Milky Way

The Milky Way by Zacharias Topelius

Poem from Zacharias Topelius's Collected Writings, first volume (1904).

And now the lamp is out and now the night is silent and clear
and now all the memories of long lost days are rising
and gentle tales fly around like streaks in the blue
and wonderful and wistful and warm is the heart then.

The bright stars gaze down into the winter night's glow
as blissful a smile as if there were no death on earth.
Do you understand their silent language? I know a story yet
I have it learned from the stars and do you want to hear it?

Far away on a star he lived in the splendour of the evening sky;
she lived in a different sun and in a different region.
And Salami was her name and Zulamit was his
and both loved so much and loved each other.

They both lived on earth before and loved even then
but were separated by night and death and sorrow and sin too.
Then white wings grew fast on them in the peace of death
they were judged far apart on different stars stay.

But they thought of each other in the home of the blue heights.
immeasurable lay a space of glory and suns between them
countless worlds wonders of the Creator's wise hand
spread between Salami and Zulamit on fire.

And then Zulamit has an evening of the power of desire consumed
began to build a bridge of light from world to world
and then has Salami as he from the edge of his sun
begun to build a bridge from pole to pole.

For a thousand years they built with unwavering faith
and so the Milky Way was built a magnificent star bridge
that embraces the highest vault of heaven and the orbit of the zodiac
and binds together the shores of the ocean of space.

Horror gripped the cherubim to God rose their flight:
"O Lord, look what Salami and Zulamit have built!"
But God Almighty smiled and a bright light spread far and wide
"What love has built in my world I will not tear down."

And Salami and Zulamit when the bridge was finished
they leapt into each other's arms - and soon a star bright
the brightest on the vault of heaven ran up in their wake
that after a thousand years of mourning in bloom a heart beats.

And all that on the dark earth has loved tenderly and joyfully
and were separated by sin and sorrow and anguish and death and night
it only has the power to build itself from world to world a bridge
be sure it shall reach its love its longing shall find rest.

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