The Poems of Goethe
by Goethe
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Happy his breast, with pureness bless'd,

And the dark eyes 'neath his eyebrows placed,

With full many a beauteous line are graced. Happy his breast, with pureness bless'd, Soon as seen, thy love must be confess'd.

His mouth is red—its power I dread,

On his lips morn's fragrant incense lies,

Round his lips the cooling Zephyr sighs. His mouth is red—its power I dread, With one glance from him, all sorrow's fled.

His blood is true, his heart bold too,

In his soft arms, strength, protection, dwells

And his face with noble pity swells. His blood is true, his heart bold too, Blest the one whom those dear arms may woo!

1816.. ——- SICILIAN SONG.

YE black and roguish eyes,

If ye command. Each house in ruins lies,

No town can stand. And shall my bosom's chain,—

This plaster wall, To think one moment, deign,—

Shall ii not fall?

1811. ——- SWISS SONG,

Up in th' mountain I was a-sitting, With the bird there As my guest, Blithely singing, Blithely springing, And building His nest.

In the garden I was a-standing, And the bee there Saw as well, Buzzing, humming, Going, coming, And building His cell.

O'er the meadow I was a-going, And there saw the Butterflies, Sipping, dancing, Flying, glancing, And charming The eyes.

And then came my Dear Hansel, And I show'd them With glee, Sipping, quaffing, And he, laughing, Sweet kisses Gave me.

1811. ——- FINNISH SONG.

IF the loved one, the well-known one, Should return as he departed, On his lips would ring my kisses, Though the wolf's blood might have dyed them; And a hearty grasp I'd give him, Though his finger-ends were serpents.

Wind! Oh, if thou hadst but reason, Word for word in turns thou'dst carry, E'en though some perchance might perish 'Tween two lovers so far distant.

All choice morsels I'd dispense with, Table-flesh of priests neglect too, Sooner than renounce my lover, Whom, in Summer having vanquish'd, I in Winter tamed still longer.

1810. ——- GIPSY SONG.

IN the drizzling mist, with the snow high-pil'd, In the Winter night, in the forest wild, I heard the wolves with their ravenous howl, I heard the screaming note of the owl:

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

I shot, one day, a cat in a ditch— The dear black cat of Anna the witch; Upon me, at night, seven were-wolves came down, Seven women they were, from out of the town.

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

I knew them all; ay, I knew them straight; First, Anna, then Ursula, Eve, and Kate, And Barbara, Lizzy, and Bet as well; And forming a ring, they began to yell:

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!

Then call'd I their names with angry threat: "What wouldst thou, Anna? What wouldst thou, Bet?" At hearing my voice, themselves they shook, And howling and yelling, to flight they took.

Wille wau wau wau!

Wille wo wo wo!

Wito hu!


[For a fine account of the fearful sack of Magdeburg, by Tilly, in the year 1613, see SCHILLER's History of the Thirty Years' War.]

OH, Magdeberg the town! Fair maids thy beauty crown, Thy charms fair maids and matrons crown; Oh, Magdeburg the town!

Where all so blooming stands, Advance fierce Tilly's bands; O'er gardens and o'er well—till'd lands Advance fierce Tilly's bands.

Now Tilly's at the gate. Our homes who'll liberate? Go, loved one, hasten to the gate, And dare the combat straight!

There is no need as yet, However fierce his threat; Thy rosy cheeks I'll kiss, sweet pet! There is no need as yet.

My longing makes me pale. Oh, what can wealth avail? E'en now thy father may be pale. Thou mak'st my courage fail.

Oh, mother, give me bread! Is then my father dead? Oh, mother, one small crust of bread! Oh, what misfortune dread!

Thy father, dead lies he, The trembling townsmen flee, Adown the street the blood runs free; Oh, whither shall we flee?

The churches ruined lie, The houses burn on high, The roofs they smoke, the flames out fly, Into the street then hie!

No safety there they meet! The soldiers fill the Street, With fire and sword the wreck complete: No safety there they meet!

Down falls the houses' line, Where now is thine or mine? That bundle yonder is not thine, Thou flying maiden mine!

The women sorrow sore. The maidens far, far more. The living are no virgins more; Thus Tilly's troops make war! ——-


——— What we sing in company Soon from heart to heart will fly. ——-

THE Gesellige Lieder, which I have angicisled as above, as several of them cannot be called convivial songs, are separated by Goethe from his other songs, and I have adhered to the same arrangement. The Ergo bibamus is a well-known drinking song in Germany, where it enjoys vast popularity.


[Composed for a merry party that used to meet, in 1802, at Goethe's house.]

FATE now allows us,

'Twixt the departing

And the upstarting, Happy to be; And at the call of

Memory cherish'd,

Future and perish'd Moments we see.

Seasons of anguish,—

Ah, they must ever

Truth from woe sever, Love and joy part; Days still more worthy

Soon will unite us,

Fairer songs light us, Strength'ning the heart.

We, thus united,

Think of, with gladness,

Rapture and sadness, Sorrow now flies. Oh, how mysterious

Fortune's direction!

Old the connection,

New-born the prize!

Thank, for this, Fortune,

Wavering blindly!

Thank all that kindly Fate may bestow! Revel in change's

Impulses clearer,

Love far sincerer, More heartfelt glow!

Over the old one,

Wrinkles collected,

Sad and dejected, Others may view; But, on us gently

Shineth a true one,

And to the new one We, too, are new.

As a fond couple

'Midst the dance veering,

First disappearing, Then reappear, So let affection

Guide thro' life's mazy

Pathways so hazy Into the year!


[This little song describes the different members of the party just spoken of.]

WHY pacest thou, my neighbour fair,

The garden all alone? If house and land thou seek'st to guard,

I'd thee as mistress own.

My brother sought the cellar-maid,

And suffered her no rest; She gave him a refreshing draught,

A kiss, too, she impress'd.

My cousin is a prudent wight,

The cook's by him ador'd; He turns the spit round ceaselessly,

To gain love's sweet reward.

We six together then began

A banquet to consume, When lo! a fourth pair singing came,

And danced into the room.

Welcome were they,—and welcome too

Was a fifth jovial pair. Brimful of news, and stored with tales

And jests both new and rare.

For riddles, spirit, raillery,

And wit, a place remain'd; A sixth pair then our circle join'd,

And so that prize was gain'd.

And yet to make us truly blest,

One miss'd we, and full sore; A true and tender couple came,—

We needed them no more.

The social banquet now goes on,

Unchequer'd by alloy; The sacred double-numbers then

Let us at once enjoy!


OH prophetic bird so bright, Blossom-songster, cuckoo bight! In the fairest time of year, Dearest bird, oh! deign to hear What a youthful pair would pray, Do thou call, if hope they may: Thy cuck-oo, thy cuck-oo. Ever more cuck-oo, cuck-oo!

Hearest thou? A loving pair Fain would to the altar fare; Yes! a pair in happy youth, Full of virtue, full of truth. Is the hour not fix'd by fate? Say, how long must they still wait? Hark! cuck-oo! hark! cuck-oo! Silent yet! for shame, cuck-oo!

'Tis not our fault, certainly! Only two years patient be! But if we ourselves please here, Will pa-pa-papas appear? Know that thou'lt more kindness do us, More thou'lt prophesy unto us. One! cuck-oo! Two! cuck-oo! Ever, ever, cuck-oo, cuck-oo, coo!

If we've calculated clearly, We have half a dozen nearly. If good promises we'll give, Wilt thou say how long we'II live? Truly, we'll confess to thee, We'd prolong it willingly. Coo cuck-oo, coo cuck-oo, Coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo!

Life is one continued feast— (If we keep no score, at least). If now we together dwell, Will true love remain as well? For if that should e'er decay, Happiness would pass away. Coo cuck-oo, coo cuck-oo, Coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo!

1803.* (Gracefully in infinitum.) ——- THE HAPPY COUPLE.

AFTER these vernal rains

That we so warmly sought, Dear wife, see how our plains

With blessings sweet are fraught! We cast our distant gaze

Far in the misty blue; Here gentle love still strays,

Here dwells still rapture true.

Thou seest whither go

Yon pair of pigeons white, Where swelling violets blow

Round sunny foliage bright. 'Twas there we gather'd first

A nosegay as we roved; There into flame first burst

The passion that we proved.

Yet when, with plighted troth,

The priest beheld us fare Home from the altar both,

With many a youthful pair,— Then other moons had birth,

And many a beauteous sun, Then we had gain'd the earth

Whereon life's race to run.

A hundred thousand fold

The mighty bond was seal'd; In woods, on mountains cold,

In bushes, in the field, Within the wall, in caves,

And on the craggy height, And love, e'en o'er the waves,

Bore in his tube the light.

Contented we remain'd,

We deem'd ourselves a pair; 'Twas otherwise ordain'd,

For, lo! a third was there; A fourth, fifth, sixth appear'd,

And sat around our board; And now the plants we've rear'd

High o'er our heads have soar'd!

How fair and pleasant looks,

On yonder beauteous spot, Embraced by poplar-brooks,

The newly-finish'd cot! Who is it there that sits

In that glad home above? Is't not our darling Fritz

With his own darling love?

Beside yon precipice,

Whence pent-up waters steal, And leaving the abyss,

Fall foaming through the wheel, Though people often tell

Of millers' wives so fair, Yet none can e'er excel

Our dearest daughter there!

Yet where the thick-set green

Stands round yon church and sad, Where the old fir-tree's seen

Alone tow'rd heaven to nod,— 'Tis there the ashes lie

Of our untimely dead; From earth our gaze on high

By their blest memory's led.

See how yon hill is bright

With billowy-waving arms! The force returns, whose might

Has vanquished war's alarms. Who proudly hastens here

With wreath-encircled brow? 'Tis like our child so dear

Thus Charles comes homeward now.

That dearest honour'd guest

Is welcom'd by the bride; She makes the true one blest,

At the glad festal tide. And ev'ry one makes haste

To join the dance with glee; While thou with wreaths hast graced

The youngest children three.

To sound of flute and horn

The time appears renew'd, When we, in love's young morn,

In the glad dance upstood; And perfect bliss I know

Ere the year's course is run, For to the font we go

With grandson and with son!


[Written and sung in honour of the birthday of the Pastor Ewald at the time of Goethe's happy connection with Lily.]

IN ev'ry hour of joy

That love and wine prolong, The moments we'll employ

To carol forth this song! We're gathered in His name,

Whose power hath brought us here; He kindled first our flame,

He bids it burn more clear.

Then gladly glow to-night,

And let our hearts combine! Up! quaff with fresh delight

This glass of sparkling wine! Up! hail the joyous hour,

And let your kiss be true; With each new bond of power

The old becomes the new!

Who in our circle lives,

And is not happy there? True liberty it gives,

And brother's love so fair. Thus heart and heart through life

With mutual love are fill'd; And by no causeless strife

Our union e'er is chill'd.

Our hopes a God has crown'd

With life-discernment free, And all we view around,

Renews our ecstasy. Ne'er by caprice oppress'd,

Our bliss is ne'er destroy'd; More freely throbs our breast,

By fancies ne'er alloy'd.

Where'er our foot we set,

The more life's path extends, And brighter, brighter yet

Our gaze on high ascends. We know no grief or pain,

Though all things fall and rise; Long may we thus remain!

Eternal be our ties!


COULD this early bliss but rest

Constant for one single hour! But e'en now the humid West

Scatters many a vernal shower. Should the verdure give me joy?

'Tis to it I owe the shade; Soon will storms its bloom destroy,

Soon will Autumn bid it fade.

Eagerly thy portion seize,

If thou wouldst possess the fruit! Fast begin to ripen these,

And the rest already shoot. With each heavy storm of rain

Change comes o'er thy valley fair; Once, alas! but not again

Can the same stream hold thee e'er.

And thyself, what erst at least

Firm as rocks appear'd to rise, Walls and palaces thou seest

But with ever-changing eyes. Fled for ever now the lip

That with kisses used to glow, And the foot, that used to skip

O'er the mountain, like the roe.

And the hand, so true and warm,

Ever raised in charity, And the cunning-fashion'd form,—

All are now changed utterly. And what used to bear thy name,

When upon yon spot it stood, Like a rolling billow came,

Hast'ning on to join the flood.

Be then the beginning found

With the end in unison, Swifter than the forms around

Are themselves now fleeting on! Thank the merit in thy breast,

Thank the mould within thy heart, That the Muses' favour blest Ne'er will perish, ne'er depart.

1803.* ——- TABLE SONG.

[Composed for the merry party already mentioned, on the occasion of the departure for France of the hereditary prince, who was one of the number, and who is especially alluded to in the 3rd verse.]

O'ER me—how I cannot say,—

Heav'nly rapture's growing. Will it help to guide my way

To yon stars all-glowing? Yet that here I'd sooner be,

To assert I'm able, Where, with wine and harmony,

I may thump the table.

Wonder not, my dearest friends,

What 'tis gives me pleasure; For of all that earth e'er lends,

'Tis the sweetest treasure. Therefore solemnly I swear,

With no reservation, That maliciously I'll ne'er

Leave my present station.

Now that here we're gather'd round,

Chasing cares and slumbers, Let, methought, the goblet sound

To the bard's glad numbers! Many a hundred mile away,

Go those we love dearly; Therefore let us here to-day

Make the glass ring clearly!

Here's His health, through Whom we live!

I that faith inherit. To our king the next toast give,

Honour is his merit, 'Gainst each in— and outward foe

He's our rock and tower. Of his maintenance thinks he though,

More that grows his power.

Next to her good health I drink,

Who has stirr'd my passion; Of his mistress let each think,

Think in knightly fashion. If the beauteous maid but see

Whom 'tis I now call so, Let her smiling nod to me:

"Here's my love's health also!"

To those friends,—the two or three,—

Be our next toast given, In whose presence revel we,

In the silent even,— Who the gloomy mist so cold

Scatter gently, lightly; To those friends, then, new or old,

Let the toast ring brightly.

Broader now the stream rolls on,

With its waves more swelling, While in higher, nobler tone,

Comrades, we are dwelling,— We who with collected might,

Bravely cling together, Both in fortune's sunshine bright,

And in stormy weather.

Just as we are gather'd thus,

Others are collected; On them, therefore, as on us,

Be Fate's smile directed! From the springhead to the sea,

Many a mill's revolving, And the world's prosperity

Is the task I'm solving.

1802. ——- WONT AND DONE.

I HAVE loved; for the first time with passion I rave! I then was the servant, but now am the slave;

I then was the servant of all: By this creature so charming I now am fast bound, To love and love's guerdon she turns all around,

And her my sole mistress I call.

l've had faith; for the first time my faith is now strong! And though matters go strangely, though matters go wrong,

To the ranks of the faithful I'm true: Though ofttimes 'twas dark and though ofttimes 'twas drear, In the pressure of need, and when danger was near,

Yet the dawning of light I now view.

I have eaten; but ne'er have thus relish'd my food! For when glad are the senses, and joyous the blood,

At table all else is effaced As for youth, it but swallows, then whistles an air; As for me, to a jovial resort I'd repair,

Where to eat, and enjoy what I taste.

I have drunk; but have never thus relish'd the bowl! For wine makes us lords, and enlivens the soul,

And loosens the trembling slave's tongue. Let's not seek to spare then the heart-stirring drink, For though in the barrel the old wine may sink,

In its place will fast mellow the young.

I have danced, and to dancing am pledged by a vow! Though no caper or waltz may be raved about now,

In a dance that's becoming, whirl round. And he who a nosegay of flowers has dress'd, And cares not for one any more than the rest,

With a garland of mirth is aye crown'd.

Then once more be merry, and banish all woes! For he who but gathers the blossoming rose.

By its thorns will be tickled alone. To-day still, as yesterday, glimmers the star; Take care from all heads that hang down to keep far,

And make but the future thine own.


In this noble ring to-day

Let my warning shame ye! Listen to my solemn voice,—

Seldom does it name ye. Many a thing have ye intended,

Many a thing have badly ended, And now I must blame ye.

At some moment in our lives

We must all repent us! So confess, with pious trust,

All your sins momentous! Error's crooked pathways shunning.

Let us, on the straight road running, Honestly content us!

Yes! we've oft, when waking, dream'd,

Let's confess it rightly; Left undrain'd the brimming cup,

When it sparkled brightly; Many a shepherd's-hour's soft blisses,

Many a dear mouth's flying kisses We've neglected lightly.

Mute and silent have we sat,

Whilst the blockheads prated, And above e'en song divine

Have their babblings rated; To account we've even call'd us

For the moments that enthrall'd us, With enjoyment freighted.

If thou'lt absolution grant

To thy true ones ever, We, to execute thy will,

Ceaseless will endeavour, From half-measures strive to wean us,

Wholly, fairly, well demean us, Resting, flagging never.

At all blockheads we'll at once

Let our laugh ring clearly, And the pearly-foaming wine

Never sip at merely. Ne'er with eye alone give kisses,

But with boldness suck in blisses From those lips loved dearly.

1803.* ——- COPTIC SONG.

LEAVE we the pedants to quarrel and strive,

Rigid and cautious the teachers to be! All of the wisest men e'er seen alive

Smile, nod, and join in the chorus with me: "Vain 'tis to wait till the dolt grows less silly! Play then the fool with the fool, willy-nilly,—

Children of wisdom,—remember the word!"

Merlin the old, from his glittering grave, When I, a stripling, once spoke to him,—gave

Just the same answer as that I've preferr'd; "Vain 'tis to wait till the dolt grows less silly! Play then the fool with the fool, willy-nilly,—

Children of wisdom,—remember the word!"

And on the Indian breeze as it booms, And in the depths of Egyptian tombs,

Only the same holy saying I've heard: "Vain 'tis to wait till the dolt grows less silly! Play then the fool with the fool, willy-nilly,—

Children of wisdom,—remember the word!"

1789.* ——- ANOTHER.

Go! obedient to my call,

Turn to profit thy young days,

Wiser make betimes thy breast

In Fate's balance as it sways,

Seldom is the cock at rest; Thou must either mount, or fall,

Thou must either rule and win,

Or submissively give in, Triumph, or else yield to clamour: Be the anvil or the hammer.


MY trust in nothing now is placed,

Hurrah! So in the world true joy I taste,

Hurrah! Then he who would be a comrade of mine Must rattle his glass, and in chorus combine, Over these dregs of wine.

I placed my trust in gold and wealth,

Hurrah! But then I lost all joy and health,

Lack-a-day! Both here and there the money roll'd, And when I had it here, behold, From there had fled the gold!

I placed my trust in women next,

Hurrah! But there in truth was sorely vex'd,

Lack-a-day! The False another portion sought, The True with tediousness were fraught, The Best could not be bought.

My trust in travels then I placed,

Hurrah! And left my native land in haste.

Lack-a-day! But not a single thing seem'd good, The beds were bad, and strange the food, And I not understood.

I placed my trust in rank and fame,

Hurrah! Another put me straight to shame,

Lack-a-day! And as I had been prominent, All scowl'd upon me as I went, I found not one content.

I placed my trust in war and fight,

Hurrah! We gain'd full many a triumph bright,

Hurrah! Into the foeman's land we cross'd, We put our friends to equal cost, And there a leg I lost.

My trust is placed in nothing now,

Hurrah! At my command the world must bow,

Hurrah! And as we've ended feast and strain, The cup we'll to the bottom drain; No dregs must there remain!

1806. ——- FORTUNE OF WAR.

NOUGHT more accursed in war I know

Than getting off scot-free; Inured to danger, on we go

In constant victory; We first unpack, then pack again,

With only this reward, That when we're marching, we complain,

And when in camp, are bor'd.

The time for billeting comes next,—

The peasant curses it; Each nobleman is sorely vex'd,

'Tis hated by the cit. Be civil, bad though be thy food,

The clowns politely treat; If to our hosts we're ever rude,

Jail-bread we're forced to eat.

And when the cannons growl around,

And small arms rattle clear, And trumpet, trot, and drum resound,

We merry all appear; And as it in the fight may chance,

We yield, then charge amain, And now retire, and now advance,

And yet a cross ne'er gain.

At length there comes a musket-ball,

And hits the leg, please Heaven; And then our troubles vanish all,

For to the town we're driven, (Well cover'd by the victor's force,)

Where we in wrath first came,— The women, frightened then, of course,

Are loving now and tame.

Cellar and heart are open'd wide,

The cook's allow'd no rest; While beds with softest down supplied

Are by our members press'd. The nimble lads upon us wait,

No sleep the hostess takes Her shift is torn in pieces straight,—

What wondrous lint it makes!

If one has tended carefully

The hero's wounded limb, Her neighbour cannot rest, for she

Has also tended him. A third arrives in equal haste,

At length they all are there, And in the middle he is placed

Of the whole band so fair!

On good authority the king

Hears how we love the fight, And bids them cross and ribbon bring,

Our coat and breast to dight. Say if a better fate can e'er

A son of Mars pursue! 'Midst tears at length we go from there,

Beloved and honour'd too.

1814. ——- OPEN TABLE.

MANY a guest I'd see to-day,

Met to taste my dishes! Food in plenty is prepar'd,

Birds, and game, and fishes. Invitations all have had,

All proposed attending. Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

Pretty girls I hope to see,

Dear and guileless misses, Ignorant how sweet it is

Giving tender kisses. Invitations all have had,

All proposed attending. Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

Women also I expect,

Loving tow'rd their spouses, Whose rude grumbling in their breasts

Greater love but rouses. Invitations they've had too,

All proposed attending! Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

I've too ask'd young gentlemen,

Who are far from haughty, And whose purses are well-stock'd,

Well-behaved, not haughty. These especially I ask'd,

All proposed attending. Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

Men I summon'd with respect,

Who their own wives treasure; Who in ogling other Fair

Never take a pleasure. To my greetings they replied,

All proposed attending. Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

Then to make our joy complete,

Poets I invited, Who love other's songs far more

Than what they've indited. All acceded to my wish,

All proposed attending. Johnny, go and look around!

Are they hither wending?

Not a single one appears,

None seem this way posting. All the soup boils fast away,

Joints are over-roasting. Ah, I fear that we have been

Rather too unbending! Johnny, tell me what you think!

None are hither wending.

Johnny, run and quickly bring

Other guests to me now! Each arriving as he is—

That's the plan, I see now. In the town at once 'tis known,

Every one's commending. Johnny, open all the doors:

All are hither wending!

1815.* ——- THE RECKONING.


LET no cares now hover o'er us

Let the wine unsparing run! Wilt thou swell our merry chorus?

Hast thou all thy duty done?


Two young folks—the thing is curious—

Loved each other; yesterday Both quite mild, to-day quite furious,

Next day, quite the deuce to pay! If her neck she there was stooping,

He must here needs pull his hair. I revived their spirits drooping,

And they're now a happy pair.


Surely we for wine may languish!

Let the bumper then go round! For all sighs and groans of anguish

Thou to-day in joy hast drown'd.


Why, young orphan, all this wailing?

"Would to heaven that I were dead! For my guardian's craft prevailing

Soon will make me beg my bread." Knowing well the rascal genus,

Into court I dragg'd the knave; Fair the judges were between us,

And the maiden's wealth did save.


Surely we for wine may languish!

Let the bumper then go round! For all sighs and groans of anguish

Thou to-day in joy hast drown'd.


To a little fellow, quiet,

Unpretending and subdued, Has a big clown, running riot,

Been to-day extremely rude. I bethought me of my duty,

And my courage swell'd apace, So I spoil'd the rascal's beauty,

Slashing him across the face.


Surely we for wine may languish!

Let the bumper then go round! For all sighs and groans of anguish

Thou to-day in joy hast drown'd.


Brief must be my explanation,

For I really have done nought. Free from trouble and vexation,

I a landlord's business bought. There I've done, with all due ardour,

All that duty order'd me; Each one ask'd me for the larder,

And there was no scarcity.


Surely we for wine may languish!

Let the bumper then go round! For all sighs and groans of anguish

Thou to-day in joy hast drown'd.


Each should thus make proclamation

Of what he did well to-day! That's the match whose conflagration

Should inflame our tuneful lay. Let it be our precept ever

To admit no waverer here! For to act the good endeavour,

None but rascals meek appear.


Surely we for wine may languish!

Let the bumper then go round! For all sighs and groans of anguish

We have now in rapture drown'd.


Let each merry minstrel enter,

He's right welcome to our hall! 'Tis but with the selftormentor

That we are not liberal;

For we fear that his caprices,

That his eye-brows dark and sad, That his grief that never ceases

Hide an empty heart, or bad.


No one now for wine shall languish!

Here no minstrel shall be found, Who all sighs and groans of anguish,

Has not first in rapture drown'd!

1810. ——- ERGO BIBAMUS!

FOR a praiseworthy object we're now gather'd here,

So, brethren, sing: ERGO BIBAMUS! Tho' talk may be hush'd, yet the glasses ring clear,

Remember then: ERGO BIBAMUS! In truth 'tis an old, 'tis an excellent word, With its sound so befitting each bosom is stirr'd, And an echo the festal hall filling is heard,

A glorious ERGO BIBAMUS!

I saw mine own love in her beauty so rare,

And bethought me of: ERGO BIBAMUS; So I gently approach'd, and she let me stand there,

While I help'd myself, thinking: BIBAMUS! And when she's appeased, and will clasp you and kiss, Or when those embraces and kisses ye miss, Take refuge, till sound is some worthier bliss,

In the comforting ERGO BIBAMUS!

I am call'd by my fate far away from each friend;

Ye loved ones, then: ERGO BIBAMUS! With wallet light-laden from hence I must wend.

So double our ERGO BIBAMUS! Whate'er to his treasures the niggard may add, Yet regard for the joyous will ever be had, For gladness lends over its charms to the glad,

So, brethren, sing; ERGO BIBAMUS!

And what shall we say of to-day as it flies?

I thought but of: ERGO BIBAMUS 'Tis one of those truly that seldom arise,

So again and again sing: BIBAMUS! For joy through a wide-open portal it guides, Bright glitter the clouds, as the curtain divides, An a form, a divine one, to greet us in glides,

While we thunder our: ERGO BIBAMUS!

1810. ——- EPIPHANIAS.

THE three holy kings with their star's bright ray,— They eat and they drink, but had rather not pay; They like to eat and drink away, They eat and drink, but had rather not pay.

The three holy kings have all come here, In number not four, but three they appear; And if a fourth join'd the other three, Increased by one their number would be.

The first am I,—the fair and the white, I ought to be seen when the sun shines bright! But, alas! with all my spices and myrrh, No girl now likes me,—I please not her.

The next am I,—the brown and the long, Known well to women, known well to song. Instead of spices, 'tis gold I bear, And so I'm welcome everywhere.

The last am I,—the black and small, And fain would be right merry withal. I like to eat and to drink full measure, I eat and drink, and give thanks with pleasure.

The three holy kings are friendly and mild, They seek the Mother, and seek the Child; The pious Joseph is sitting by, The ox and the ass on their litter lie.

We're bringing gold, we're bringing myrrh, The women incense always prefer; And if we have wine of a worthy growth, We three to drink like six are not loth.

As here we see fair lads and lasses, But not a sign of oxen or asses, We know that we have gone astray And so go further on our way. ——-


——- Poet's art is ever able To endow with truth mere fable. —— MIGNON. [This universally known poem is also to be found in Wilhelm Meister.]

KNOW'ST thou the land where the fair citron blows, Where the bright orange midst the foliage glows, Where soft winds greet us from the azure skies, Where silent myrtles, stately laurels rise, Know'st thou it well?

'Tis there, 'tis there, That I with thee, beloved one, would repair.

Know'st thou the house? On columns rests its pile, Its halls are gleaming, and its chambers smile, And marble statues stand and gaze on me: "Poor child! what sorrow hath befallen thee?" Know'st thou it well?

'Tis there, 'tis there, That I with thee, protector, would repair!

Know'st thou the mountain, and its cloudy bridge? The mule can scarcely find the misty ridge; In caverns dwells the dragon's olden brood, The frowning crag obstructs the raging flood. Know'st thou it well?

'Tis there, 'tis there, Our path lies—Father—thither, oh repair!

1795.* ——- THE MINSTREL.

[This fine poem is introduced in the second book of Wilhelm Meister.]

"WHAT tuneful strains salute mine ear

Without the castle walls? Oh, let the song re-echo here,

Within our festal halls!" Thus spake the king, the page out-hied; The boy return'd; the monarch cried:

"Admit the old man yonder!"

"All hail, ye noble lords to-night!

All hail, ye beauteous dames! Star placed by star! What heavenly sight!

Whoe'er can tell their names? Within this glittering hall sublime, Be closed, mine eyes! 'tis not the time

For me to feast my wonder."

The minstrel straightway closed his eyes,

And woke a thrilling tone; The knights look'd on in knightly guise,

Fair looks tow'rd earth were thrown. The monarch, ravish'd by the strain, Bade them bring forth a golden chain,

To be his numbers' guerdon.

"The golden chain give not to me,

But give the chain to those In whose bold face we shiver'd see

The lances of our foes. Or give it to thy chancellor there; With other burdens he may bear

This one more golden burden.

"I sing, like birds of blithesome note,

That in the branches dwell; The song that rises from the throat

Repays the minstrel well. One boon I'd crave, if not too bold— One bumper in a cup of gold

Be as my guerdon given."

The bowl he raised, the bowl he quaff'd:

"Oh drink, with solace fraught! Oh, house thrice-blest, where such a draught

A trifling gift is thought! When Fortune smiles, remember me, And as I thank you heartily,

As warmly thank ye Heaven!"

1795.* ——- BALLAD


[Goethe began to write an opera called Lowenstuhl, founded upon the old tradition which forms the subject of this Ballad, but he never carried out his design.]

OH, enter old minstrel, thou time-honour'd one! We children are here in the hall all alone,

The portals we straightway will bar. Our mother is praying, our father is gone

To the forest, on wolves to make war. Oh sing us a ballad, the tale then repeat,

'Till brother and I learn it right; We long have been hoping a minstrel to meet,

For children hear tales with delight.

"At midnight, when darkness its fearful veil weaves, His lofty and stately old castle he leaves,

But first he has buried his wealth. What figure is that in his arms one perceives,

As the Count quits the gateway by stealth? O'er what is his mantle so hastily thrown?

What bears he along in his flight? A daughter it is, and she gently sleeps on"—

The children they hear with delight.

"The morning soon glimmers. the world is so wide, In valleys and forests a home is supplied,

The bard in each village is cheer'd. Thus lives he and wanders, while years onward glide,

And longer still waxes his beard; But the maiden so fair in his arms grows amain,

'Neath her star all-protecting and bright, Secured in the mantle from wind and from rain—"

The children they hear with delight.

"And year upon year with swift footstep now steals, The mantle it fades, many rents it reveals,

The maiden no more it can hold. The father he sees her, what rapture he feels!

His joy cannot now be controll'd. How worthy she seems of the race whence she springs,

How noble and fair to the sight! What wealth to her dearly-loved father she brings!"—

The children they hear with delight.

"Then comes there a princely knight galloping by, She stretches her hand out, as soon as he's nigh,

But alms he refuses to give. He seizes her hand, with a smile in his eye:

'Thou art mine!' he exclaims, 'while I live!' 'When thou know'st,' cries the old man, 'the treasure that's there,

A princess thou'lt make her of right; Betroth'd be she now, on this spot green and fair—'"

The children they hear with delight.

"So she's bless'd by the priest on the hallowed place, And she goes with a smiling but sorrowful face,

From her father she fain would not part. The old man still wanders with ne'er-changing pace,

He covers with joy his sad heart. So I think of my daughter, as years pass away,

And my grandchildren far from my sight; I bless them by night, and I bless them by day"—

The children they hear with delight.

He blesses the children: a knocking they hear, The father it is! They spring forward in fear,

The old man they cannot conceal— "Thou beggar, wouldst lure, then, my children so dear?

Straight seize him, ye vassals of steel! To the dungeon most deep, with the fool-hardy knave!"

The mother from far hears the fight; She hastens with flatt'ring entreaty to crave—

The children they hear with delight.

The vassals they suffer the Bard to stand there, And mother and children implore him to spare,

The proud prince would stifle his ire, 'Till driven to fury at hearing their prayer,

His smouldering anger takes fire: "Thou pitiful race! Oh, thou beggarly crew!

Eclipsing my star, once so bright! Ye'll bring me destruction, ye sorely shall rue!"

The children they hear with affright.

The old man still stands there with dignified mien, The vassals of steel quake before him, I ween,

The Count's fury increases in power; "My wedded existence a curse long has been,

And these are the fruits from that flower! 'Tis ever denied, and the saying is true,

That to wed with the base-born is right; The beggar has borne me a beggarly crew,—"

The children they hear with affright.

"If the husband, the father, thus treats you with scorn, If the holiest bonds by him rashly are torn,

Then come to your father—to me! The beggar may gladden life's pathway forlorn,

Though aged and weak he may be. This castle is mine! thou hast made it thy prey,

Thy people 'twas put me to flight; The tokens I bear will confirm what I say"—

The children they hear with delight.

"The king who erst govern'd returneth again, And restores to the Faithful the goods that were ta'en,

I'll unseal all my treasures the while; The laws shall be gentle, and peaceful the reign"—

The old man thus cries with a smile— "Take courage, my son! all hath turned out for good,

And each hath a star that is bright, Those the princess hath borne thee are princely in blood,"—

The children thy hear with delight.

1816. ——- THE VIOLET.

UPON the mead a violet stood, Retiring, and of modest mood,

In truth, a violet fair. Then came a youthful shepherdess, And roam'd with sprightly joyousness, And blithely woo'd

With carols sweet the air

"Ah!" thought the violet, "had I been For but the smallest moment e'en

Nature's most beauteous flower, 'Till gather'd by my love, and press'd, When weary, 'gainst her gentle breast, For e'en, for e'en

One quarter of an hour!"

Alas! alas! the maid drew nigh, The violet failed to meet her eye,

She crush'd the violet sweet. It sank and died, yet murmur'd not: "And if I die, oh, happy lot, For her I die,

And at her very feet!"


THERE was a wooer blithe and gay,

A son of France was he,— Who in his arms for many a day,

As though his bride were she, A poor young maiden had caress'd, And fondly kiss'd, and fondly press'd,

And then at length deserted.

When this was told the nut-brown maid,

Her senses straightway fled; She laugh'd and wept, and vow'd and pray'd,

And presently was dead. The hour her soul its farewell took, The boy was sad, with terror shook,

Then sprang upon his charger.

He drove his spurs into his side,

And scour'd the country round; But wheresoever he might ride,

No rest for him was found. For seven long days and nights he rode, It storm'd, the waters overflow'd,

It bluster'd, lighten'd, thunder'd.

On rode he through the tempest's din,

Till he a building spied; In search of shelter crept he in,

When he his steed had tied. And as he groped his doubtful way, The ground began to rock and sway,—

He fell a hundred fathoms.

When he recover'd from the blow,

He saw three lights pass by; He sought in their pursuit to go,

The lights appear'd to fly. They led his footsteps all astray, Up, down, through many a narrow way

Through ruin'd desert cellars.

When lo! he stood within a hall,

With hollow eyes. and grinning all; They bade him taste the fare.

A hundred guests sat there. He saw his sweetheart 'midst the throng, Wrapp'd up in grave-clothes white and long;

She turn'd, and——*

1774. (* This ballad is introduced in Act II. of Claudine of Villa Bella, where it is suddenly broken off, as it is here.) ——- THE ERL-KING.

WHO rides there so late through the night dark and drear? The father it is, with his infant so dear; He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm, He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?" "Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side! Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?" "My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me! Full many a game I will play there with thee; On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold, My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?" "Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives; 'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there? My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care My daughters by night their glad festival keep, They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see, How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?" "My darling, my darling, I see it aright, 'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy! And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ." "My father, my father, he seizes me fast, Full sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild, He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child; He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,— The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.

1782.* ——- JOHANNA SEBUS.

[To the memory of an excellent and beautiful girl of 17, belonging to the village of Brienen, who perished on the 13th of January, 1809, whilst giving help on the occasion of the breaking up of the ice on the Rhine, and the bursting of the dam of Cleverham.]


"I'll bear thee, mother, across the swell,

'Tis not yet high, I can wade right well."

"Remember us too! in what danger are we!

Thy fellow-lodger, and children three!

The trembling woman!—Thou'rt going away!"

She bears the mother across the spray.

"Quick! haste to the mound, and awhile there wait,

I'll soon return, and all will be straight.

The mound's close by, and safe from the wet;

But take my goat too, my darling pet!"


She places the mother safe on the shore;

Fair Susan then turns tow'rd the flood once more.

"Oh whither? Oh whither? The breadth fast grows,

Both here and there the water o'erflows.

Wilt venture, thou rash one, the billows to brave?" "THEY SHALL, AND THEY MUST BE PRESERVED FROM THE WAVE!"


Fair Susan returns by the way she had tried,

The waves roar around, but she turns not aside;

She reaches the mound, and the neighbour straight,

But for her and the children, alas, too late!


The foaming abyss gapes wide, and whirls round,

The women and children are borne to the ground;

The horn of the goat by one is seized fast,

But, ah, they all must perish at last!

Fair Susan still stands-there, untouch'd by the wave;

The youngest, the noblest, oh, who now will save?

Fair Susan still stands there, as bright as a star,

But, alas! all hope, all assistance is far.

The foaming waters around her roar,

To save her, no bark pushes off from the shore.

Her gaze once again she lifts up to Heaven,

Then gently away by the flood she is driven.


The rushing water the wilderness covers,

Yet Susan's image still o'er it hovers.—

The water sinks, the plains re-appear.

Fair Susan's lamented with many a tear,—

May he who refuses her story to tell,

Be neglected in life and in death as well!

1809. ——- THE FISHERMAN.

THE waters rush'd, the waters rose,

A fisherman sat by, While on his line in calm repose

He cast his patient eye. And as he sat, and hearken'd there,

The flood was cleft in twain, And, lo! a dripping mermaid fair

Sprang from the troubled main.

She sang to him, and spake the while:

"Why lurest thou my brood, With human wit and human guile

From out their native flood? Oh, couldst thou know how gladly dart

The fish across the sea, Thou wouldst descend, e'en as thou art,

And truly happy be!

"Do not the sun and moon with grace

Their forms in ocean lave? Shines not with twofold charms their face,

When rising from the wave? The deep, deep heavens, then lure thee not,—

The moist yet radiant blue,— Not thine own form,—to tempt thy lot

'Midst this eternal dew?"

The waters rush'd, the waters rose,

Wetting his naked feet; As if his true love's words were those,

His heart with longing beat. She sang to him, to him spake she,

His doom was fix'd, I ween; Half drew she him, and half sank he,

And ne'er again was seen.

1779.* ——- THE KING OF THULE.*

(* This ballad is also introduced in Faust, where it is sung by Margaret.)

IN Thule lived a monarch,

Still faithful to the grave, To whom his dying mistress

A golden goblet gave.

Beyond all price he deem'd it,

He quaff'd it at each feast; And, when he drain'd that goblet,

His tears to flow ne'er ceas'd.

And when he felt death near him,

His cities o'er he told, And to his heir left all things,

But not that cup of gold.

A regal banquet held he

In his ancestral ball, In yonder sea-wash'd castle,

'Mongst his great nobles all.

There stood the aged reveller,

And drank his last life's-glow,— Then hurl'd the holy goblet

Into the flood below.

He saw it falling, filling,

And sinking 'neath the main, His eyes then closed for ever,

He never drank again.

1774. ——-




I KNOW a flower of beauty rare,

Ah, how I hold it dear! To seek it I would fain repair,

Were I not prison'd here. My sorrow sore oppresses me, For when I was at liberty,

I had it close beside me.

Though from this castle's walls so steep

I cast mine eyes around, And gaze oft from the lofty keep,

The flower can not be found. Whoe'er would bring it to my sight, Whether a vassal he, or knight,

My dearest friend I'd deem him.


I blossom fair,—thy tale of woes

I hear from 'neath thy grate. Thou doubtless meanest me, the rose.

Poor knight of high estate! Thou hast in truth a lofty mind; The queen of flowers is then enshrin'd,

I doubt not, in thy bosom.


Thy red, in dress of green array'd,

As worth all praise I hold; And so thou'rt treasured by each maid

Like precious stones or gold. Thy wreath adorns the fairest face But still thou'rt not the flower whose grace

I honour here in silence.


The rose is wont with pride to swell,

And ever seeks to rise; But gentle sweethearts love full well

The lily's charms to prize, The heart that fills a bosom true, That is, like me, unsullied too,

My merit values duly.


In truth, I hope myself unstain'd,

And free from grievous crime; Yet I am here a prisoner chain'd,

And pass in grief my time, To me thou art an image sure Of many a maiden, mild and pure,

And yet I know a dearer.


That must be me, the pink, who scent

The warder's garden here; Or wherefore is he so intent

My charms with care to rear? My petals stand in beauteous ring, Sweet incense all around I fling,

And boast a thousand colours.


The pink in truth we should not slight,

It is the gardener's pride It now must stand exposed to light,

Now in the shade abide. Yet what can make the Count's heart glow Is no mere pomp of outward show;

It is a silent flower.


Here stand I, modestly half hid,

And fain would silence keep; Yet since to speak I now am bid,

I'll break my silence deep. If, worthy Knight, I am that flower, It grieves me that I have not power

To breathe forth all my sweetness.


The violet's charms I prize indeed,

So modest 'tis, and fair, And smells so sweet; yet more I need

To ease my heavy care. The truth I'll whisper in thine ear: Upon these rocky heights so drear,

I cannot find the loved one.

The truest maiden 'neath the sky

Roams near the stream below, And breathes forth many a gentle sigh,

Till I from hence can go. And when she plucks a flow'ret blue, And says "Forget-me-not!"—I, too,

Though far away, can feel it.

Ay, distance only swells love's might,

When fondly love a pair; Though prison'd in the dungeon's night,

In life I linger there And when my heart is breaking nigh, "Forget-me-not!" is all I cry,

And straightway life returneth.


WITH a bridegroom's joyous bearing,

Mounts Sir Curt his noble beast, To his mistress' home repairing,

There to hold his wedding feast; When a threatening foe advances

From a desert, rocky spot; For the fray they couch their lances,

Not delaying, speaking not.

Long the doubtful fight continues,

Victory then for Curt declares; Conqueror, though with wearied sinews,

Forward on his road he fares. When he sees, though strange it may be,

Something 'midst the foliage move; 'Tis a mother, with her baby,

Stealing softly through the grove!

And upon the spot she beckons—

"Wherefore, love, this speed so wild? Of the wealth thy storehouse reckons,

Hast thou nought to give thy child!" Flames of rapture now dart through him,

And he longs for nothing more, While the mother seemeth to him

Lovely as the maid of yore.

But he hears his servants blowing,

And bethinks him of his bride; And ere long, while onward going,

Chances past a fair to ride; In the booths he forthwith buys him

For his mistress many a pledge; But, alas! some Jews surprise him,

And long-standing debts allege.

And the courts of justice duly

Send the knight to prison straight. Oh accursed story, truly!

For a hero, what a fate! Can my patience such things weather?

Great is my perplexity. Women, debts, and foes together,—

Ah, no knight escapes scot free!

1803.* ——- WEDDING SONG.

THE tale of the Count our glad song shall record

Who had in this castle his dwelling, Where now ye are feasting the new-married lord,

His grandson of whom we are telling. The Count as Crusader had blazon'd his fame, Through many a triumph exalted his name, And when on his steed to his dwelling he came,

His castle still rear'd its proud head, But servants and wealth had all fled.

'Tis true that thou, Count, hast return'd to thy home,

But matters are faring there ill. The winds through the chambers at liberty roam,

And blow through the windows at will What's best to be done in a cold autumn night? Full many I've pass'd in more piteous plight; The morn ever settles the matter aright.

Then quick, while the moon shines so clear,

To bed on the straw, without fear,

And whilst in a soft pleasing slumber he lay,

A motion he feels 'neath his bed. The rat, an he likes it, may rattle away!

Ay, had he but crumbs there outspread! But lo! there appears a diminutive wight, A dwarf 'tis, yet graceful, and bearing a light, With orator-gestures that notice invite,

At the feet of the Count on the floor

Who sleeps not, though weary full sore.

"We've long been accustom'd to hold here our feast,

Since thou from thy castle first went; And as we believed thou wert far in the East,

To revel e'en now we were bent. And if thou'lt allow it, and seek not to chide, We dwarfs will all banquet with pleasure and pride, To honour the wealthy, the beautiful bride

Says the Count with a smile, half-asleep;—

"Ye're welcome your quarters to keep!"

Three knights then advance, riding all in a group,

Who under the bed were conceal'd; And then is a singing and noise-making troop

Of strange little figures reveal'd; And waggon on waggon with all kinds of things— The clatter they cause through the ear loudly rings— The like ne'er was seen save in castles of kings;

At length, in a chariot of gold,

The bride and the guests too, behold!

Then all at full gallop make haste to advance,

Each chooses his place in the hall; With whirling and waltzing, and light joyous dance,

They begin with their sweethearts the ball. The fife and the fiddle all merrily sound, Thy twine, and they glide, and with nimbleness bound, Thy whisper, and chatter, and, chatter around;

The Count on the scene casts his eye,

And seems in a fever to lie.

They hustle, and bustle, and rattle away

On table, on bench, and on stool; Then all who had joined in the festival gay

With their partners attempt to grow cool. The hams and the sausages nimbly they bear, And meat, fish, and poultry in plenty are there, Surrounded with wine of the vintage most rare:

And when they have revell'd full long,

They vanish at last with a song.

* * * * * *

And if we're to sing all that further occurr'd,

Pray cease ye to bluster and prate; For what he so gladly in small saw and heard

He enjoy'd and he practis'd in great. For trumpets, and singing, and shouts without end On the bridal-train, chariots and horsemen attend, They come and appear, and they bow and they bend,

In merry and countless array.

Thus was it, thus is it to-day.


ALL my weary days I pass'd

Sick at heart and poor in purse.

Poverty's the greatest curse,

Riches are the highest good! And to end my woes at last,

Treasure-seeking forth I sped.

"Thou shalt have my soul instead!"

Thus I wrote, and with my blood.

Ring round ring I forthwith drew,

Wondrous flames collected there,

Herbs and bones in order fair,

Till the charm had work'd aright. Then, to learned precepts true,

Dug to find some treasure old,

In the place my art foretold

Black and stormy was the night.

Coming o'er the distant plain,

With the glimmer of a star,

Soon I saw a light afar,

As the hour of midnight knell'd. Preparation was in vain.

Sudden all was lighted up

With the lustre of a cup

That a beauteous boy upheld.

Sweetly seem'd his eves to laugh

Neath his flow'ry chaplet's load;

With the drink that brightly glow'd,

He the circle enter'd in. And he kindly bade me quaff:

Then methought "This child can ne'er,

With his gift so bright and fair,

To the arch-fiend be akin."

"Pure life's courage drink!" cried he: "This advice to prize then learn,—

Never to this place return

Trusting in thy spells absurd; Dig no longer fruitlessly.

Guests by night, and toil by day!

Weeks laborious, feast-days gay!

Be thy future magic-word!

1797. ——- THE RAT-CATCHER.

I AM the bard known far and wide, The travell'd rat-catcher beside; A man most needful to this town, So glorious through its old renown. However many rats I see, How many weasels there may be, I cleanse the place from ev'ry one, All needs must helter-skelter run.

Sometimes the bard so full of cheer As a child-catcher will appear, Who e'en the wildest captive brings, Whene'er his golden tales he sings. However proud each boy in heart, However much the maidens start, I bid the chords sweet music make, And all must follow in my wake.

Sometimes the skilful bard ye view In the form of maiden-catcher too; For he no city enters e'er, Without effecting wonders there. However coy may be each maid, However the women seem afraid, Yet all will love-sick be ere long To sound of magic lute and song.

[Da Capo.] 1803.* ——-


As I calmly sat and span,

Toiling with all zeal, Lo! a young and handsome man

Pass'd my spinning-wheel.

And he praised,—what harm was there?—

Sweet the things he said— Praised my flax-resembling hair,

And the even thread.

He with this was not content,

But must needs do more; And in twain the thread was rent,

Though 'twas safe before.

And the flax's stonelike weight

Needed to be told; But no longer was its state

Valued as of old.

When I took it to the weaver,

Something felt I start, And more quickly, as with fever,

Throbb'd my trembling heart.

Then I bear the thread at length

Through the heat, to bleach; But, alas, I scarce have strength

To the pool to reach.

What I in my little room

Span so fine and slight,— As was likely. I presume—

Came at last to light.


THE father's name ye ne'er shall be told

Of my darling unborn life; "Shame, shame," ye cry, "on the strumpet bold!"

Yet I'm an honest wife.

To whom I'm wedded, ye ne'er shall be told,

Yet he's both loving and fair; He wears on his neck a chain of gold,

And a hat of straw doth he wear.

If scorn 'tis vain to seek to repel,

On me let the scorn be thrown. I know him well, and he knows me well,

And to God, too, all is known.

Sir Parson and Sir Bailiff, again,

I pray you, leave me in peace! My child it is, my child 'twill remain,

So let your questionings cease!



WHERE goest thou? Where? Miller's daughter so fair!

Thy name, pray?—


'Tis Lizzy.

PAGE. Where goest thou? Where? With the rake in thy hand?

MILLER'S DAUGHTER. Father's meadows and land

To visit, I'm busy.

PAGE. Dost go there alone?

MILLER'S DAUGHTER. By this rake, sir, 'tis shown

That we're making the hay; And the pears ripen fast In the garden at last,

So I'll pick them to-day.

PAGE. Is't a silent thicket I yonder view?

MILLER'S DAUGHTER. Oh, yes! there are two; There's one on each side.

PAGE. I'll follow thee soon; When the sun burns at noon We'll go there, o'urselves from his rays to hide, And then in some glade all-verdant and deep—

MILLER'S DAUGHTER. Why, people would say—

PAGE. Within mine arms thou gently wilt sleep.


Your pardon, I pray! Whoever is kiss'd by the miller-maid, Upon the spot must needs be betray'd.

'Twould give me distress

To cover with white Your pretty dark dress. Equal with equal! then all is right! That's the motto in which I delight. I am in love with the miller-boy; He wears nothing that I could destroy.


[This sweet Ballad, and the one entitled The Maid of the Mill's Repentance, were written on the occasion of a visit paid by Goethe to Switzerland. The Maid of the Mill's Treachery, to which the latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following year.]


SAY, sparkling streamlet, whither thou

Art going! With joyous mien thy waters now

Are flowing. Why seek the vale so hastily? Attend for once, and answer me!


Oh youth, I was a brook indeed;

But lately My bed they've deepen'd, and my speed

Swell'd greatly, That I may haste to yonder mill. And so I'm full and never still.


The mill thou seekest in a mood

Contented, And know'st not how my youthful blood

'S tormented. But doth the miller's daughter fair Gaze often on thee kindly there?


She opes the shutters soon as light

Is gleaming; And comes to bathe her features bright

And beaming. So full and snow-white is her breast,— I feel as hot as steam suppress'd.


If she in water can inflame

Such ardour, Surely, then, flesh and blood to tame

Is harder. When once is seen her beauteous face, One ever longs her steps to trace.


Over the wheel I, roaring, bound,

All-proudly, And ev'ry spoke whirls swiftly round,

And loudly. Since I have seen the miller's daughter, With greater vigour flows the water.


Like others, then, can grief, poor brook,

Oppress thee? "Flow on!"—thus she'll, with smiling look,

Address thee. With her sweet loving glance, oh say, Can she thy flowing current stay?


'Tis sad, 'tis sad to have to speed

From yonder; I wind, and slowly through the mead

Would wander; And if the choice remain'd with me, Would hasten back there presently.


Farewell, thou who with me dost prove

Love's sadness! Perchance some day thou'lt breathe of love

And gladness. Go, tell her straight, and often too, The boy's mute hopes and wishes true.

1797. ——-


[This Ballad is introduced in the Wanderjahre, in a tale called The Foolish Pilgrim.]

WHENCE comes our friend so hastily,

When scarce the Eastern sky is grey? Hath he just ceased, though cold it be,

In yonder holy spot to pray? The brook appears to hem his path,

Would he barefooted o'er it go? Why curse his orisons in wrath,

Across those heights beclad with snow?

Alas! his warm bed he bath left,

Where he had look'd for bliss, I ween; And if his cloak too, had been reft,

How fearful his disgrace had been! By yonder villain sorely press'd,

His wallet from him has been torn; Our hapless friend has been undress'd,

Left well nigh naked as when born.

The reason why he came this road,

Is that he sought a pair of eyes, Which, at the mill, as brightly glow'd

As those that are in Paradise. He will not soon again be there;

From out the house he quickly hied, And when he gain'd the open air,

Thus bitterly and loudly cried

"Within her gaze, so dazzling bright,

No word of treachery I could read; She seem'd to see me with delight,

Yet plann'd e'en then this cruel deed! Could I, when basking in her smile,

Dream of the treason in her breast? She bade kind Cupid stay awhile,

And he was there, to make us blest.

"To taste of love's sweet ecstasy

Throughout the night, that endless seem'd, And for her mother's help to cry

Only when morning sunlight beam'd! A dozen of her kith and kin,

A very human flood, in-press'd Her cousins came, her aunts peer'd in,

And uncles, brothers, and the rest.

"Then what a tumult, fierce and loud!

Each seem'd a beast of prey to be; The maiden's honour all the crowd,

With fearful shout, demand of me. Why should they, madmen-like, begin

To fall upon a guiltless youth? For he who such a prize would win,

Far nimbler needs must be, in truth.

"The way to follow up with skill

His freaks, by love betimes is known: He ne'er will leave, within a mill,

Sweet flowers for sixteen years alone.— They stole my clothes away,—yes, all!

And tried my cloak besides to steal. How strange that any house so small

So many rascals could conceal!

"Then I sprang up, and raved, and swore,

To force a passage through them there. I saw the treacherous maid once more,

And she was still, alas, so fair They all gave way before my wrath,

Wild outcries flew about pell-mell; At length I managed to rush forth,

With voice of thunder, from that hell.

"As maidens of the town we fly,

We'll shun you maidens of the village; Leave it to those of quality

Their humble worshippers to pillage. Yet if ye are of practised skill,

And of all tender ties afraid, Exchange your lovers, if ye will,

But never let them be betray'd."

Thus sings he in the winter-night,

While not a blade of grass was green. I laugh'd to see his piteous plight,

For it was well-deserved, I ween. And may this be the fate of all,

Who treat by day their true loves ill, And, with foolhardy daring, crawl

By night to Cupid's treacherous mill!



AWAY, thou swarthy witch! Go forth

From out my house, I tell thee! Or else I needs must, in my wrath,

Expel thee! What's this thou singest so falsely, forsooth, Of love and a maiden's silent truth?

Who'll trust to such a story!


I sing of a maid's repentant fears,

And long and bitter yearning; Her levity's changed to truth and tears

All-burning. She dreads no more the threats of her mother, She dreads far less the blows of her brother,

Than the dearly loved-one's hatred.


Of selfishness sing and treacherous lies,

Of murder and thievish plunder! Such actions false will cause no surprise,

Or wonder. When they share their booty, both clothes and purse,— As bad as you gipsies, and even worse,

Such tales find ready credence.


"Alas, alas! oh what have I done?

Can listening aught avail me? I hear him toward my room hasten on,

To hail me. My heart beat high, to myself I said: 'O would that thou hadst never betray'd

That night of love to thy mother!'"


Alas! I foolishly ventured there,

For the cheating silence misled me; Ah, sweetest! let me to thee repair,—

Nor dread me! When suddenly rose a fearful din, Her mad relations came pouring in.

My blood still boils in my body!


"Oh when will return an hour like this?

I pine in silent sadness; I've thrown away my only true bliss

With madness. Alas, poor maid! O pity my youth! My brother was then full cruel in troth

To treat the loved one so basely!"


The swarthy woman then went inside,

To the spring in the courtyard yonder; Her eyes from their stain she purified,

And,—wonder!— Her face and eyes were radiant and bright, And the maid of the mill was disclosed to the sight

Of the startled and angry stripling!


Thou sweetest, fairest, dearly-loved life!

Before thine anger I cower; But blows I dread not, nor sharp-edged knife,—

This hour Of sorrow and love to thee I'll sing, And myself before thy feet I'll fling,

And either live or die there!


Affection, say, why buried so deep

In my heart hast thou lain hidden? By whom hast thou now to awake from thy sleep

Been bidden? Ah love, that thou art immortal I see! Nor knavish cunning nor treachery

Can destroy thy life so godlike.


If still with as fond and heartfelt love,

As thou once didst swear, I'm cherish'd, Then nought of the rapture we used to prove

Is perish'd. So take the woman so dear to thy breast! In her young and innocent charms be blest,

For all are thine from henceforward!


Now, sun, sink to rest! Now, sun, arise!

Ye stars, be now shining, now darkling! A star of love now gleams in the skies,

All-sparkling! As long as the fountain may spring and run, So long will we two be blended in one,

Upon each other's bosoms!



CANST thou give, oh fair and matchless maiden,

'Neath the shadow of the lindens yonder,—

Where I'd fain one moment cease to wander,— Food and drink to one so heavy laden?


Wouldst thou find refreshment, traveller weary,

Bread, ripe fruit and cream to meet thy wishes,—

None but Nature's plain and homely dishes,— Near the spring may soothe thy wanderings dreary.


Dreams of old acquaintance now pass through me,

Ne'er-forgotten queen of hours of blisses.

Likenesses I've often found, but this is One that quite a marvel seemeth to me!


Travellers often wonder beyond measure,

But their wonder soon see cause to smother;

Fair and dark are often like each other, Both inspire the mind with equal pleasure.


Not now for the first time I surrender

To this form, in humble adoration;

It was brightest midst the constellation In the hail adorn'd with festal splendour.


Be thou joyful that 'tis in my power

To complete thy strange and merry story!

Silks behind her, full of purple glory, Floated, when thou saw'st her in that hour.


No, in truth, thou hast not sung it rightly!

Spirits may have told thee all about it;

Pearls and gems they spoke of, do not doubt it,— By her gaze eclipsed,—it gleam'd so brightly!


This one thing I certainly collected:

That the fair one—(say nought, I entreat thee!)

Fondly hoping once again to meet thee, Many a castle in the air erected.


By each wind I ceaselessly was driven,

Seeking gold and honour, too, to capture!

When my wand'rings end, then oh, what rapture, If to find that form again 'tis given!


'Tis the daughter of the race now banish'd

That thou seest, not her likeness only;

Helen and her brother, glad though lonely, Till this farm of their estate now vanish'd.


But the owner surely is not wanting

Of these plains, with ev'ry beauty teeming?

Verdant fields, broad meads, and pastures gleaming, Gushing springs, all heav'nly and enchanting.


Thou must hunt the world through, wouldst thou find him!—

We have wealth enough in our possession,

And intend to purchase the succession, When the good man leaves the world behind him.


I have learnt the owner's own condition,

And, fair maiden, thou indeed canst buy it;

But the cost is great, I won't deny it,— Helen is the price,—with thy permission!


Did then fate and rank keep us asunder,

And must Love take this road, and no other?

Yonder comes my dear and trusty brother; What will he say to it all, I wonder?


THE queen in the lofty hall takes her place,

The tapers around her are flaming; She speaks to the page: "With a nimble pace

Go, fetch me my purse for gaming.

'Tis lying, I'll pledge,

On my table's edge." Each nerve the nimble boy straineth, And the end of the castle soon gaineth.

The fairest of maidens was sipping sherbet

Beside the queen that minute; Near her mouth broke the cup,—and she got so wet!

The very devil seem'd in it

What fearful distress

'Tis spoilt, her gay dress. She hastens, and ev'ry nerve straineth, And the end of the castle soon gaineth.

The boy was returning, and quickly came,

And met the sorrowing maiden; None knew of the fact,—and yet with Love's flame,

Those two had their hearts full laden.

And, oh the bliss

Of a moment like this! Each falls on the breast of the other, With kisses that well nigh might smother.

They tear themselves asunder at last,

To her chamber she hastens quickly, To reach the queen the page hies him fast,

Midst the swords and the fans crowded thickly.

The queen spied amain

On his waistcoat a stain; For nought was inscrutable to her, Like Sheba's queen—Solomon's wooer.

To her chief attendant she forthwith cried

"We lately together contended, And thou didst assert, with obstinate pride,

That the spirit through space never wended,—

That traces alone

By the present were shown,— That afar nought was fashion'd—not even By the stars that illumine you heaven.

"Now see! while a goblet beside me they drain'd,

They spilt all the drink in the chalice; And straightway the boy had his waistcoat stain'd

At the furthermost end of the palace.—

Let them newly be clad!

And since I am glad That it served as a proof so decided, The cost will by me be provided."


A CHILD refused to go betimes

To church like other people; He roam'd abroad, when rang the chimes

On Sundays from the steeple.

His mother said: "Loud rings the bell,

Its voice ne'er think of scorning; Unless thou wilt behave thee well,

'Twill fetch thee without warning."

The child then thought: "High over head

The bell is safe suspended—" So to the fields he straightway sped

As if 'twas school-time ended.

The bell now ceas'd as bell to ring,

Roused by the mother's twaddle; But soon ensued a dreadful thing!—

The bell begins to waddle.

It waddles fast, though strange it seem;

The child, with trembling wonder, Runs off, and flies, as in a dream;

The bell would draw him under.

He finds the proper time at last,

And straightway nimbly rushes To church, to chapel, hastening fast

Through pastures, plains, and bushes.

Each Sunday and each feast as well,

His late disaster heeds he; The moment that he bears the bell,

No other summons needs he.


"OH, would we were further! Oh, would we were home, The phantoms of night tow'rd us hastily come,

The band of the Sorceress sisters. They hitherward speed, and on finding us here, They'll drink, though with toil we have fetch'd it, the beer,

And leave us the pitchers all empty."

Thus speaking, the children with fear take to flight, When sudden an old man appears in their sight:

"Be quiet, child! children, be quiet! From hunting they come, and their thirst they would still, So leave them to swallow as much as they will,

And the Evil Ones then will be gracious."

As said, so 'twas done! and the phantoms draw near, And shadowlike seem they, and grey they appear,

~Yet blithely they sip and they revel The beer has all vanish'd, the pitchers are void; With cries and with shouts the wild hunters, o'erjoy'd,

Speed onward o'er vale and o'er mountain.

The children in terror fly nimbly tow'rd home, And with them the kind one is careful to come:

"My darlings, oh, be not so mournful!— "They'll blame us and beat us, until we are dead."— "No, no! ye will find that all goes well," he said;

"Be silent as mice, then, and listen!

"And he by whose counsels thus wisely ye're taught, Is he who with children loves ever to sport.

The trusty and faithful old Eckart. Ye have heard of the wonder for many a day, But ne'er had a proof of the marvellous lay,—

Your hands hold a proof most convincing."

They arrive at their home, and their pitchers they place By the side of their parents, with fear on their face,

Awaiting a beating and scolding. But see what they're tasting: the choicest of beer! Though three times and four times they quaff the good cheer

The pitchers remain still unemptied.

The marvel it lasts till the dawning of day; All people who hear of it doubtless will say:

"What happen'd at length to the pitchers?" In secret the children they smile, as they wait; At last, though, they stammer, and stutter, and prate,

And straightway the pitchers were empty.

And if, children, with kindness address'd ye may be, Whether father, or master, or alderman he,

Obey him, and follow his bidding! And if 'tis unpleasant to bridle the tongue, Yet talking is bad, silence good for the young—

And then will the beer fill your pitchers!


THE warder looks down at the mid hour of night,

On the tombs that lie scatter'd below: The moon fills the place with her silvery light,

And the churchyard like day seems to glow. When see! first one grave, then another opes wide, And women and men stepping forth are descried,

In cerements snow-white and trailing.

In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch,

And whirl round in dances so gay; The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich,

But the cerements stand in their way; And as modesty cannot avail them aught here, They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear

Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.

Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh,

As the troop with strange gestures advance, And a rattle and clatter anon rises high,

As of one beating time to the dance. The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer, When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear:

"Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!"

Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled

Behind the church-door with all speed; The moon still continues her clear light to shed

On the dance that they fearfully lead. But the dancers at length disappear one by one, And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don,

And under the turf all is quiet.

But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still,

And gropes at the graves in despair; Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill

The shroud he soon scents in the air. So he rattles the door—for the warder 'tis well That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel,

All cover'd with crosses in metal.

The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow,

There remains for reflection no time; On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now,

And from point on to point hastes to climb. Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed! Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed,

Advances the dreaded pursuer.

The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale,

The shroud to restore fain had sought; When the end,—now can nothing to save him avail,—

In a tooth formed of iron is caught. With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run, When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One,

And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.


I AM now,—what joy to hear it!—

Of the old magician rid; And henceforth shall ev'ry spirit

Do whate'er by me is bid;

I have watch'd with rigour

All he used to do,

And will now with vigour

Work my wonders too.

Wander, wander

Onward lightly,

So that rightly

Flow the torrent,

And with teeming waters yonder

In the bath discharge its current!

And now come, thou well-worn broom,

And thy wretched form bestir; Thou hast ever served as groom,

So fulfil my pleasure, sir!

On two legs now stand,

With a head on top;

Waterpail in hand,

Haste, and do not stop!

Wander, wander

Onward lightly,

So that rightly

Flow the torrent,

And with teeming waters yonder

In the bath discharge its current!

See! he's running to the shore,

And has now attain'd the pool, And with lightning speed once more

Comes here, with his bucket full!

Back he then repairs;

See how swells the tide!

How each pail he bears

Straightway is supplied!

Stop, for, lo!

All the measure

Of thy treasure

Now is right!—

Ah, I see it! woe, oh woe!

I forget the word of might.

Ah, the word whose sound can straight

Make him what he was before! Ah, he runs with nimble gait!

Would thou wert a broom once more!

Streams renew'd for ever

Quickly bringeth he;

River after river

Rusheth on poor me!

Now no longer

Can I bear him;

I will snare him,

Knavish sprite!

Ah, my terror waxes stronger!

What a look! what fearful sight

Oh, thou villain child of hell!

Shall the house through thee be drown'd Floods I see that wildly swell,

O'er the threshold gaining ground.

Wilt thou not obey,

Oh, thou broom accurs'd?

Be thou still I pray,

As thou wert at first!

Will enough

Never please thee?

I will seize thee,

Hold thee fast,

And thy nimble wood so tough,

With my sharp axe split at last.

See, once more he hastens back!

Now, oh Cobold, thou shalt catch it! I will rush upon his track;

Crashing on him falls my hatchet.

Bravely done, indeed!

See, he's cleft in twain!

Now from care I'm freed,

And can breathe again.

Woe, oh woe!

Both the parts,

Quick as darts,

Stand on end,

Servants of my dreaded foe!

Oh, ye gods protection send!

And they run! and wetter still

Grow the steps and grows the hail. Lord and master hear me call!

Ever seems the flood to fill,

Ah, he's coming! see,

Great is my dismay!

Spirits raised by me

Vainly would I lay!

"To the side

Of the room

Hasten, broom,

As of old!

Spirits I have ne'er untied

Save to act as they are told."


[First published in Schiller's Horen, in connection with a friendly contest in the art of ballad-writing between the two great poets, to which many of their finest works are owing.]

ONCE a stranger youth to Corinth came,

Who in Athens lived, but hoped that he From a certain townsman there might claim,

As his father's friend, kind courtesy.

Son and daughter, they

Had been wont to say

Should thereafter bride and bridegroom be.

But can he that boon so highly prized,

Save tis dearly bought, now hope to get? They are Christians and have been baptized,

He and all of his are heathens yet.

For a newborn creed,

Like some loathsome weed,

Love and truth to root out oft will threat.

Father, daughter, all had gone to rest,

And the mother only watches late; She receives with courtesy the guest,

And conducts him to the room of state.

Wine and food are brought,

Ere by him besought;

Bidding him good night. she leaves him straight.

But he feels no relish now, in truth,

For the dainties so profusely spread; Meat and drink forgets the wearied youth,

And, still dress'd, he lays him on the bed.

Scarce are closed his eyes,

When a form in-hies

Through the open door with silent tread.

By his glimmering lamp discerns he now

How, in veil and garment white array'd, With a black and gold band round her brow,

Glides into the room a bashful maid.

But she, at his sight,

Lifts her hand so white,

And appears as though full sore afraid.

"Am I," cries she, "such a stranger here,

That the guest's approach they could not name? Ah, they keep me in my cloister drear,

Well nigh feel I vanquish'd by my shame.

On thy soft couch now

Slumber calmly thou!

I'll return as swiftly as I came."

"Stay, thou fairest maiden!" cries the boy,

Starting from his couch with eager haste: "Here are Ceres', Bacchus' gifts of joy;

Amor bringest thou, with beauty grac'd!

Thou art pale with fear!

Loved one let us here

Prove the raptures the Immortals taste."

"Draw not nigh, O Youth! afar remain!

Rapture now can never smile on me; For the fatal step, alas! is ta'en,

Through my mother's sick-bed phantasy.

Cured, she made this oath:

'Youth and nature both

Shall henceforth to Heav'n devoted be.'

"From the house, so silent now, are driven

All the gods who reign'd supreme of yore; One Invisible now rules in heaven,

On the cross a Saviour they adore.

Victims slay they here,

Neither lamb nor steer, But the altars reek with human gore."

And he lists, and ev'ry word he weighs,

While his eager soul drinks in each sound: "Can it be that now before my gaze

Stands my loved one on this silent ground?

Pledge to me thy troth!

Through our father's oath:

With Heav'ns blessing will our love be crown'd."

"Kindly youth, I never can be thine!

'Tis my sister they intend for thee. When I in the silent cloister pine,

Ah, within her arms remember me!

Thee alone I love,

While love's pangs I prove;

Soon the earth will veil my misery."

"No! for by this glowing flame I swear,

Hymen hath himself propitious shown: Let us to my fathers house repair,

And thoult find that joy is not yet flown,

Sweetest, here then stay,

And without delay

Hold we now our wedding feast alone!"

Then exchange they tokens of their truth;

She gives him a golden chain to wear, And a silver chalice would the youth

Give her in return of beauty rare.

"That is not for me;

Yet I beg of thee, One lock only give me of thy hair."

Now the ghostly hour of midnight knell'd,

And she seem'd right joyous at the sign; To her pallid lips the cup she held,

But she drank of nought but blood-red wine.

For to taste the bread

There before them spread,

Nought he spoke could make the maid incline.

To the youth the goblet then she brought,—

He too quaff'd with eager joy the bowl. Love to crown the silent feast he sought,

Ah! full love-sick was the stripling's soul.

From his prayer she shrinks,

Till at length he sinks

On the bed and weeps without control.

And she comes, and lays her near the boy:

"How I grieve to see thee sorrowing so! If thou think'st to clasp my form with joy,

Thou must learn this secret sad to know;

Yes! the maid, whom thou

Call'st thy loved one now,

Is as cold as ice, though white as snow."

Then he clasps her madly in his arm,

While love's youthful might pervades his frame: "Thou might'st hope, when with me, to grow warm,

E'en if from the grave thy spirit came!

Breath for breath, and kiss!

Overflow of bliss!

Dost not thou, like me, feel passion's flame?"

Love still closer rivets now their lips,

Tears they mingle with their rapture blest, From his mouth the flame she wildly sips,

Each is with the other's thought possess'd.

His hot ardour's flood

Warms her chilly blood,

But no heart is beating in her breast.

In her care to see that nought went wrong,

Now the mother happen'd to draw near; At the door long hearkens she, full long,

Wond'ring at the sounds that greet her ear.

Tones of joy and sadness,

And love's blissful madness,

As of bride and bridegroom they appear,

From the door she will not now remove

'Till she gains full certainty of this; And with anger hears she vows of love,

Soft caressing words of mutual bliss.

"Hush! the cock's loud strain!

But thoult come again,

When the night returns!"—then kiss on kiss.

Then her wrath the mother cannot hold,

But unfastens straight the lock with ease "In this house are girls become so bold,

As to seek e'en strangers' lusts to please?"

By her lamp's clear glow

Looks she in,—and oh!

Sight of horror!—'tis her child she sees.

Fain the youth would, in his first alarm,

With the veil that o'er her had been spread, With the carpet, shield his love from harm;

But she casts them from her, void of dread,

And with spirit's strength,

In its spectre length,

Lifts her figure slowly from the bed.

"Mother! mother!"—Thus her wan lips say:

"May not I one night of rapture share? From the warm couch am I chased away?

Do I waken only to despair?

It contents not thee

To have driven me

An untimely shroud of death to wear?

"But from out my coffin's prison-bounds

By a wond'rous fate I'm forced to rove, While the blessings and the chaunting sounds

That your priests delight in, useless prove.

Water, salt, are vain

Fervent youth to chain,

Ah, e'en Earth can never cool down love!

"When that infant vow of love was spoken,

Venus' radiant temple smiled on both. Mother! thou that promise since hast broken,

Fetter'd by a strange, deceitful oath.

Gods, though, hearken ne'er,

Should a mother swear

To deny her daughter's plighted troth.

From my grave to wander I am forc'd,

Still to seek The Good's long-sever'd link, Still to love the bridegroom I have lost,

And the life-blood of his heart to drink;

When his race is run,

I must hasten on,

And the young must 'neath my vengeance sink,

"Beauteous youth! no longer mayst thou live;

Here must shrivel up thy form so fair; Did not I to thee a token give,

Taking in return this lock of hair?

View it to thy sorrow!

Grey thoult be to-morrow,

Only to grow brown again when there.

"Mother, to this final prayer give ear!

Let a funeral pile be straightway dress'd; Open then my cell so sad and drear,

That the flames may give the lovers rest!

When ascends the fire

From the glowing pyre,

To the gods of old we'll hasten, blest."



[This very fine Ballad was also first given in the Horen.] (MAHADEVA is one of the numerous names of Seeva, the destroyer,— the great god of the Brahmins.)

MAHADEVA,* Lord of earth

For the sixth time comes below,

As a man of mortal birth,—

Like him, feeling joy and woe.

Hither loves he to repair,

And his power behind to leave;

If to punish or to spare,

Men as man he'd fain perceive. And when he the town as a trav'ller hath seen, Observing the mighty, regarding the mean, He quits it, to go on his journey, at eve.

He was leaving now the place,

When an outcast met his eyes,—

Fair in form, with painted face,—

Where some straggling dwellings rise.

"Maiden, hail!"—"Thanks! welcome here!

Stay!—I'll join thee in the road.'

"Who art thou?"—"A Bayadere,

And this house is love's abode." The cymbal she hastens to play for the dance, Well skill'd in its mazes the sight to entrance, Then by her with grace is the nosegay bestow'd.

Then she draws him, as in play,

O'er the threshold eagerly:

"Beauteous stranger, light as day

Thou shalt soon this cottage see.

I'll refresh thee, if thou'rt tired,

And will bathe thy weary feet;

Take whate'er by thee's desired,

Toying, rest, or rapture sweet."— She busily seeks his feign'd suff'rings to ease; Then smiles the Immortal; with pleasure he sees That with kindness a heart so corrupted can beat.

And he makes her act the part

Of a slave; he's straight obey'd.

What at first had been but art,

Soon is nature in the maid.

By degrees the fruit we find,

Where the buds at first obtain;

When obedience fills the mind,

Love will never far remain. But sharper and sharper the maiden to prove, The Discerner of all things below and above, Feigns pleasure, and horror, and maddening pain.

And her painted cheeks he kisses,

And his vows her heart enthrall;

Feeling love's sharp pangs and blisses,

Soon her tears begin to fall.

At his feet she now must sink,

Not with thoughts of lust or gain,—

And her slender members shrink,

And devoid of power remain. And so the bright hours with gladness prepare Their dark, pleasing veil of a texture so fair, And over the couch softly, tranquilly reign.

Late she falls asleep, thus bless'd,—

Early wakes, her slumbers fled,

And she finds the much-loved guest

On her bosom lying dead.

Screaming falls she on him there,

But, alas, too late to save!

And his rigid limbs they bear

Straightway to their fiery grave. Then hears she the priests and the funeral song, Then madly she runs, and she severs the throng: "Why press tow'rd the pile thus? Why scream thus, and rave?"

Then she sinks beside his bier,

And her screams through air resound:

"I must seek my spouse so dear,

E'en if in the grave he's bound.

Shall those limbs of grace divine

Fall to ashes in my sight?

Mine he was! Yes, only mine!

Ah, one single blissful night!" The priests chaunt in chorus: "We bear out the old, When long they've been weary, and late they've grown cold: We bear out the young, too, so thoughtless and light.

"To thy priests' commands give ear!

This one was thy husband ne'er;

Live still as a Bayadere,

And no duty thou need'st share.

To deaths silent realms from life,

None but shades attend man's frame,

With the husband, none but wife,—

That is duty, that is fame. Ye trumpets, your sacred lament haste to raise Oh, welcome, ye gods, the bright lustre of days! Oh, welcome to heaven the youth from the flame!"

Thus increased her torments are

By the cruel, heartless quire;

And with arms outstretching far

Leaps she on the glowing pyre.

But the youth divine outsprings

From the flame with heav'nly grace,

And on high his flight he wings,

While his arms his love embrace. In the sinner repentant the Godhead feels joy; Immortals delight thus their might to employ. Lost children to raise to a heavenly place.

1797. ——- THE PARIAH.


DREADED Brama, lord of might!

All proceed from thee alone; Thou art he who judgeth right!

Dost thou none but Brahmins own? Do but Rajahs come from thee?

None but those of high estate?

Didst not thou the ape create, Aye, and even such as we?

We are not of noble kind,

For with woe our lot is rife; And what others deadly find

Is our only source of life. Let this be enough for men,

Let them, if they will, despise us;

But thou, Brama, thou shouldst prize us, All are equal in thy ken.

Now that, Lord, this prayer is said,

As thy child acknowledge me; Or let one be born in-stead,

Who may link me on to thee! Didst not thou a Bayadere

As a goddess heavenward raise?

And we too to swell thy praise, Such a miracle would hear.

1821. ——- II. LEGEND.

[The successful manner in which Goethe employs the simple rhymeless trochaic metre in this and in many other Poems will perhaps be remarked by the reader.]

WATER-FETCHING goes the noble Brahmin's wife, so pure and lovely; He is honour'd, void of blemish. And of justice rigid, stern. Daily from the sacred river Brings she back refreshments precious;— But where is the pail and pitcher? She of neither stands in need. For with pure heart, hands unsullied, She the water lifts, and rolls it To a wondrous ball of crystal This she bears with gladsome bosom, Modestly, with graceful motion, To her husband in the house.

She to-day at dawn of morning Praying comes to Ganges' waters, Bends her o'er the glassy surface— Sudden, in the waves reflected, Flying swiftly far above her, From the highest heavens descending, She discerns the beauteous form Of a youth divine, created By the God's primeval wisdom In his own eternal breast.

When she sees him, straightway feels she Wondrous, new, confused sensations In her inmost, deepest being; Fain she'd linger o'er the vision, Then repels it,—it returneth,— And, perplex'd, she bends her flood-wards With uncertain hands to draw it; But, alas, she draws no more! For the water's sacred billows Seem to fly, to hasten from her; She but sees the fearful chasm Of a whirlpool black disclosed.

Arms drop down, and footsteps stumble, Can this be the pathway homewards? Shall she fly, or shall she tarry? Can she think, when thought and counsel, When assistance all are lost? So before her spouse appears she— On her looks he—look is judgment— Proudly on the sword he seizes, To the hill of death he drags her, Where delinquents' blood pays forfeit. What resistance could she offer? What excuses could she proffer, Guilty, knowing not her guilt?

And with bloody sword returns he, Musing, to his silent dwelling, When his son before him stands: "Whose this blood? Oh, father! father!" "The delinquent woman's!"—"Never! For upon the sword it dries not, Like the blood of the delinquent; Fresh it flows, as from the wound. Mother! mother! hither hasten! Unjust never was my father, Tell me what he now hath done."— "Silence! silence! hers the blood is!" "Whose, my father?"—"Silence! Silence!" "What! oh what! my mother's blood! What her crime? What did she? Answer! Now, the sword! the sword now hold I; Thou thy wife perchance might'st slaughter, But my mother might'st not slay! Through the flames the wife is able Her beloved spouse to follow, And his dear and only mother Through the sword her faithful son." "Stay! oh stay!" exclaim'd the father: "Yet 'tis time, so hasten, hasten! Join the head upon the body, With the sword then touch the figure, And, alive she'll follow thee."

Hastening, he, with breathless wonder, Sees the bodies of two women Lying crosswise, and their heads too; Oh, what horror! which to choose! Then his mother's head he seizes,— Does not kiss it, deadly pale 'tis,— On the nearest headless body Puts it quickly, and then blesses With the sword the pious work. Then the giant form uprises,— From the dear lips of his mother, Lips all god-like—changeless—blissful, Sound these words with horror fraught: "Son, oh son! what overhast'ning! Yonder is thy mother's body, Near it lies the impious head Of the woman who hath fallen Victim to the judgment-sword! To her body I am grafted By thy hand for endless ages; Wise in counsel, wild in action, I shall be amongst the gods. E'en the heav'nly boy's own image, Though in eye and brow so lovely, Sinking downwards to the bosom Mad and raging lust will stir.

"'Twill return again for ever, Ever rising, ever sinking, Now obscured, and now transfigur'd,— So great Brama hath ordain'd. He 'twas sent the beauteous pinions, Radiant face and slender members Of the only God-begotten, That I might be proved and tempted; For from high descends temptation, When the gods ordain it so. And so I, the Brahmin woman, With my head in Heaven reclining, Must experience, as a Pariah, The debasing power of earth.

Son, I send thee to thy father! Comfort him! Let no sad penance, Weak delay, or thought of merit, Hold thee in the desert fast Wander on through ev'ry nation, Roam abroad throughout all ages, And proclaim to e'en the meanest, That great Brama hears his cry!

"None is in his eyes the meanest— He whose limbs are lame and palsied, He whose soul is wildly riven, Worn with sorrow, hopeless, helpless, Be he Brahmin, be he Pariah, If tow'rd heaven he turns his gaze, Will perceive, will learn to know it: Thousand eyes are glowing yonder, Thousand ears are calmly list'ning, From which nought below is hid.

"If I to his throne soar upward, If he sees my fearful figure By his might transform'd to horror, He for ever will lament it,— May it to your good be found! And I now will kindly warn him, And I now will madly tell him Whatsoe'er my mind conceiveth, What within my bosom heaveth. But my thoughts, my inmost feelings— Those a secret shall remain."


MIGHTY Brama, now I'll bless thee!

'Tis from thee that worlds proceed! As my ruler I confess thee,

For of all thou takest heed.

All thy thousand ears thou keepest

Open to each child of earth; We, 'mongst mortals sunk the deepest,

Have from thee received new birth.

Bear in mind the woman's story,

Who, through grief, divine became; Now I'll wait to view His glory,

Who omnipotence can claim.


[From the Morlack.)

WHAT is yonder white thing in the forest? Is it snow, or can it swans perchance be? Were it snow, ere this it had been melted, Were it swans, they all away had hastend. Snow, in truth, it is not, swans it is not, 'Tis the shining tents of Asan Aga. He within is lying, sorely wounded; To him come his mother and his sister; Bashfully his wife delays to come there. When the torment of his wounds had lessen'd, To his faithful wife he sent this message: "At my court no longer dare to tarry, At my court, or e'en amongst my people."

When the woman heard this cruel message, Mute and full of sorrow stood that true one. At the doors she hears the feet of horses, And bethinks that Asan comes—her husband, To the tower she springs, to leap thence headlong, Her two darling daughters follow sadly, And whilst weeping bitter tears, exclaim they: These are not our father Asan's horses; 'Tis thy brother Pintorowich coming!"

So the wife of Asan turns to meet him, Clasps her arms in anguish round her brother: "See thy sister's sad disgrace, oh brother! How I'm banish'd—mother of five children!" Silently her brother from his wallet, Wrapp'd in deep red-silk, and ready written, Draweth forth the letter of divorcement, To return home to her mother's dwelling, Free to be another's wife thenceforward.

When the woman saw that mournful letter, Fervently she kiss'd her two sons' foreheads, And her two girls' cheeks with fervour kiss'd she, But she from the suckling in the cradle Could not tear herself, so deep her sorrow! So she's torn thence by her fiery brother, On his nimble steed he lifts her quickly, And so hastens, with the heart-sad woman, Straightway tow'rd his father's lofty dwelling.

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