A knight is reclining on a rock on beach at night, pretending to be asleep, as curious fairies gather around him, emboldened enough to touch and feel him.
This illustration accompanies “The Fairies” (Die Nixen) by Heinrich Heine. Below is the full poem, translated by Julian Fane:
The waves they plash on the lonely strand,
The moon gives out her beams;
A fair knight rests on the silvery sand,
Begirt with happy dreams.
The beautiful Fairies, fairy-bedight.
Rise out of the great sea’s deeps;
They softly draw near to the youthful knight,
And they think that he certainly sleeps.
Then one with curious fingers feels
The feathers that deck his bonnet;
Another close to his shoulder-knot steals,
And plays with the chain upon it.
A third one laughs, and with cunning hand
Unsheaths the sword from its keeper;
And, leaning against the glittering brand,
She watches, well-pleased, the sleeper.
A fourth, she flutters about and above.
And sighs from her little bosom:
“Ah me! that I were thy true, true love,
Thou beautiful human blossom!”