Short the time was—seven days had pass'd not,— Yet enough 'twas; many mighty princes Sought the woman in her widow's-mourning. Sought the woman,—as their wife they sought her. And the mightiest was Imoski's Cadi, And the woman weeping begg'd her brother: By thy life, my brother, I entreat thee, Let me not another's wife be ever, Lest my heart be broken at the image Of my poor, my dearly-cherish'd children!"
To her prayer her brother would not hearken, Fix'd to wed her to Imoski's Cadi. Yet the good one ceaselessly implored him: "Send, at least a letter, oh, my brother, With this message to Imoski's Cadi: 'The young widow sends thee friendly greeting; Earnestly she prays thee, through this letter, That, when thou com'st hither, with thy Suatians, A long veil thou'lt bring me, 'neath whose shadow I may hide, when near the house of Asan, And not see my dearly cherish'd orphans.'"
Scarcely had the Cadi read this letter, Than he gather'd all his Suatians round him, And then tow'rd the bride his course directed, And the veil she ask'd for, took he with him.
Happily they reach'd the princess' dwelling, From the dwelling happily they led her. But when they approach'd the house of Asan, Lo! the children saw from high their mother, And they shouted: "To thy halls return thou! Eat thy supper with thy darling children!" Mournfully the wife of Asan heard it, Tow'rd the Suatian prince then turn'd she, saying: "Let, I pray, the Suatians and the horses At the loved ones' door a short time tarry, That I may give presents to my children."
And before the loved ones' door they tarried, And she presents gave to her poor children, To the boys gave gold-embroider'd buskins, To the girls gave long and costly dresses, To the suckling, helpless in the cradle, Gave a garment, to be worn hereafter.
This aside saw Father Asan Aga,— Sadly cried he to his darling children: "Hither come, ye dear unhappy infants, For your mother's breast is turn'd to iron, Lock'd for ever, closed to all compassion!"
When the wife of Asan heard him speak thus, On the ground, all pale and trembling, fell she, And her spirit fled her sorrowing bosom, When she saw her children flying from her.
——- May the bard these numbers praise, That are sung his fame to raise. ——-
THE Poems composed by Goethe under this title are five in number, of which three are here given. The other two are entirely personal in their allusions, and not of general interest. One of them is a Requiem on the Prince de Ligne, who died in 1814, and whom Goethe calls "the happiest man of the century," and the other was composed in honour of the 70th birthday of his friend Zelter the composer, when Goethe was himself more than 79 (1828). The following sweet aria introduced in the latter is, however, worth giving:—
THE flowers so carefully rear'd,
In a garland for him I oft twin'd: How sweet have they ever appear'd,
When wreath'd for a friend dear and kind. Then incense sweet ascended,
Then new-horn blossoms rose, With gentle zephyrs blended
In tones of soft repose. ——- IDYLL.
A village Chorus is supposed to be assembled, and about to commence its festive procession.
[Written for the birthday of the Duchess Louisa of Weimar.]
THE festal day hail ye
With garlands of pleasure,
And dances' soft measure, With rapture commingled And sweet choral song.
Oh, how I yearn from out the crowd to flee! What joy a secret glade would give to me! Amid the throng, the turmoil here, Confined the plain, the breezes e'en appear.
Now order it truly, That ev'ry one duly May roam and may wander, Now here, and now yonder,
The meadows along.
[The Chorus retreats gradually, and the song becomes fainter and fainter, till it dies away in the distance.]
In vain ye call, in vain would lure me on; True my heart speaks,—but with itself alone.
And if I may view
A blessing-fraught land,
The heaven's clear blue,
And the plain's verdant hue,
Alone I'll rejoice,
Undisturbed by man's voice.
And there I'll pay homage
To womanly merit,
Observe it in spirit,
In spirit pay homage;
To echo alone
Shall my secret be known.
[Faintly mingling with Damon's song in the distance.]
Shall my secret—be known.—
My friend, why meet I here with thee?
Thou hast'nest not to join the festal throng? No longer stay, but come with me,
And mingle in the dance and song.
Thou'rt welcome, friend! but suffer me to roam
Where these old beeches hide me from man's view: Love seeks in solitude a home,
And homage may retreat there too.
Thou seekest here a spurious fame,
And hast a mind to-day to grieve me. Love as thy portion thou mayst claim
But homage thou must share with all, believe me!
When their voices thousands raise, And the dawn of morning praise,
On before us, Heart and ear in pleasure vie;
And when thousands join in chorus,
With the feelings brightly glowing,
And the wishes overflowing, Forcibly they'll bear thee high.
[The Chorus gradually approaches, from the distance.]
Distant strains are hither wending,
And I'm gladden'd by the throng; Yes, they're coming,—yes, descending
To the valley from the height,
Let us haste, our footsteps blending
With the rhythm of the song! Yes, they come; their course they're bending
Tow'rd the wood's green sward so bright.
CHORUS. [Gradually becoming louder.]
Yes, we hither come, attending
With the harmony of song, As the hours their race are ending
On this day of blest delight.
Let none reveal The thoughts we feel, The aims we own! Let joy alone
Disclose the story! She'll prove it right And her delight
Includes the glory, Includes the bliss Of days like this!
1813. ——- RINALDO.*
[This Cantata was written for Prince Frederick of Gotha, and set to music by Winter, the Prince singing the part of Rinaldo.—See the Annalen.]
(* See Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto XVI.)
To the strand! quick, mount the bark!
If no favouring zephyrs blow,
Ply the oar and nimbly row, And with zeal your prowess mark!
O'er the sea we thus career.
Oh, let me linger one short moment here! 'Tis heaven's decree, I may not hence away. The rugged cliffs, the wood-encircled bay, Hold me a prisoner, and my flight delay.
Ye were so fair, but now that dream is o'er; The charms of earth, the charms of heaven are nought. What keeps me in this spot so terror-fraught?
My only joy is fled for evermore.
Let me taste those days so sweet,
Heav'n-descended, once again! Heart, dear heart! ay, warmly beat!
Spirit true, recall those days
Freeborn breath thy gentle lays
Mingled are with joy and pain.
Round the beds, so richly gleaming,
Rises up a palace fair; All with rosy fragrance teeming,
As in dream thou saw'st it ne'er.
And this spacious garden round,
Far extend the galleries; Roses blossom near the ground,
High in air, too, bloom the trees.
Wat'ry flakes and jets are falling.
Sweet and silv'ry strains arise; While the turtle-dove is calling,
And the nightingale replies.
Gently come! feel no alarm,
On a noble duty bent; Vanish'd now is ev'ry charm
That by magic power was lent. Friendly words and greetings calm On his wounds will pour soft balm.
Fill his mind with sweet content.
Hark! the turtle-dove is calling,
And the nightingale replies; Wat'ry flakes and jets are falling,
Mingling with their melodies.
But all of them say:
Her only we mean; But all fly away,
As soon as she's seen,— The beauteous young maiden,
With graces so rife,
Then lily and rose
In wreaths are entwining;
In dancing combining, Each zephyr that blows
Its brother is greeting,
All flying and meeting, With balsam full laden,
When waken'd to life.
No! no longer may we wait; Rouse him from his vision straight! Show the adamantine shield!
Woe! what form is here reveal'd!
'Twill disclose the cheat to thee.
Am I doom'd myself to see Thus degraded evermore?
Courage take, and all is o'er.
Be it so! I'll take fresh heart, From the spot beloved depart, Leave Armida once again,— Come then! here no more remain.
Yes, 'tis well! no more remain.
Away then! let's fly
O'er the zephyr-kiss'd ocean! The soul-lighted eye
Sees armies in motion, See proud banners wave
O'er the dust-sprinkled course.
From his forefathers brave
Draws the hero new force.
With sorrow laden,
Within this valley's
All-silent alleys The fairest maiden
Again I see.
Twice can this be? What! shall I hear it, And not have spirit To ease her pains?
And now I've see her,
Alas! how changed! With cold demeanour.
And looks estranged, With ghostly tread,— All hope is fled, Yes, fled for ever. The lightnings quiver, Each palace falls; The godlike halls, Each joyous hour Of spirit-power, With love's sweet day All fade away!
Yes, fade away!
Already are heard
The prayers of the pious.
Why longer deny us? The favouring zephyr
Forbids all delay.
Away, then! away!
With heart sadly stirr'd,
Your command I receive;
Ye force me to leave. Unkind is the zephyr,—
Oh, wherefore not stay?
Away, then! away!
1811. ——- THE FIRST WALPURGIS-NIGHT.
SWEET smiles the May!
The forest gay
From frost and ice is freed;
No snow is found,
Glad songs resound
Across the verdant mead.
Upon the height
The snow lies light,
Yet thither now we go, There to extol our Father's name,
Whom we for ages know. Amid the smoke shall gleam the flame;
Thus pure the heart will grow.
Amid the smoke shall gleam the flame; Extol we now our Father's name,
Whom we for ages know!
Up, up, then, let us go!
ONE OF THE PEOPLE.
Would ye, then, so rashly act? Would ye instant death attract? Know ye not the cruel threats
Of the victors we obey? Round about are placed their nets
In the sinful heathen's way. Ah! upon the lofty wall
Wife and children slaughter they; And we all Hasten to a certain fall.
CHORUS OF WOMEN.
Ay, upon the camp's high wall
All our children loved they slay.
Ah, what cruel victors they! And we all Hasten to a certain fall.
Who fears to-day
His rites to pay,
Deserves his chains to wear.
The forest's free!
This wood take we,
And straight a pile prepare!
Yet in the wood
To stay 'tis good
By day, till all is still, With watchers all around us plac'd
Protecting you from ill. With courage fresh, then let us haste
Our duties to fulfil.
CHORUS OF WATCHERS.
Ye valiant watchers, now divide Your numbers through the forest wide,
And see that all is still,
While they their rites fulfil.
Let us in a cunning wise, Yon dull Christian priests surprise With the devil of their talk
We'll those very priests confound. Come with prong, and come with fork.
Raise a wild and rattling sound Through the livelong night, and prowl
All the rocky passes round. Screechowl, owl, Join in chorus with our howl!
CHORUS OF WATCHERS.
Come with prong, and come with fork, Like the devil of their talk, And with wildly rattling sound, Prowl the desert rocks around! Screechowl, owl, Join in chorus with our howl!
Thus far 'tis right.
That we by night
Our Father's praises sing;
Yet when 'tis day,
To Thee we may
A heart unsullied bring.
'Tis true that now,
And often, Thou
Fav'rest the foe in fight. As from the smoke is freed the blaze,
So let our faith burn bright! And if they crush our golden ways,
Who e'er can crush Thy light?
A CHRISTIAN WATCHER.
Comrades, quick! your aid afford! All the brood of hell's abroad; See how their enchanted forms
Through and through with flames are glowing! Dragon-women, men-wolf swarms,
On in quick succession going! Let us, let us haste to fly!
Wilder yet the sounds are growing, And the archfiend roars on high; From the ground Hellish vapours rise around.
CHORUS OF CHRISTIAN WATCHERS.
Terrible enchanted forms, Dragon-women, men-wolf swarms! Wilder yet the sounds are growing! See, the archfiend comes, all-glowing! From the ground Hellish vapours rise around!
CHORUS OF DRUIDS.
As from the smoke is freed the blaze,
So let our faith burn bright! And if they crush our golden ways,
Who e'er can crush Thy light?
THESE are the most singular of all the Poems of Goethe, and to many will appear so wild and fantastic, as to leave anything but a pleasing impression. Those at the beginning, addressed to his friend Behrisch, were written at the age of eighteen, and most of the remainder were composed while he was still quite young. Despite, however, the extravagance of some of them, such as the Winter Journey over the Hartz Mountains, and the Wanderer's Storm-Song, nothing can be finer than the noble one entitled Mahomet's Song, and others, such as the Spirit Song' over the Waters, The God-like, and, above all, the magnificent sketch of Prometheus, which forms part of an unfinished piece bearing the same name, and called by Goethe a 'Dramatic Fragment.'
TO MY FRIEND.
[These three Odes are addressed to a certain Behrisch, who was tutor to Count Lindenau, and of whom Goethe gives an odd account at the end of the Seventh Book of his Autobiography.]
TRANSPLANT the beauteous tree! Gardener, it gives me pain; A happier resting-place Its trunk deserved.
Yet the strength of its nature To Earth's exhausting avarice, To Air's destructive inroads, An antidote opposed.
See how it in springtime Coins its pale green leaves! Their orange-fragrance Poisons each flyblow straight.
The caterpillar's tooth Is blunted by them; With silv'ry hues they gleam In the bright sunshine,
Its twigs the maiden Fain would twine in Her bridal-garland; Youths its fruit are seeking.
See, the autumn cometh! The caterpillar Sighs to the crafty spider,— Sighs that the tree will not fade.
Hov'ring thither From out her yew-tree dwelling, The gaudy foe advances Against the kindly tree,
And cannot hurt it, But the more artful one Defiles with nauseous venom Its silver leaves;
And sees with triumph How the maiden shudders, The youth, how mourns he, On passing by.
Transplant the beauteous tree! Gardener, it gives me pain; Tree, thank the gardener Who moves thee hence!
1767. ——- SECOND ODE.
THOU go'st! I murmur— Go! let me murmur. Oh, worthy man, Fly from this land!
Deadly marshes, Steaming mists of October Here interweave their currents, Blending for ever.
Noisome insects Here are engender'd; Fatal darkness Veils their malice.
The fiery-tongued serpent, Hard by the sedgy bank, Stretches his pamper'd body, Caress'd by the sun's bright beams.
Tempt no gentle night-rambles Under the moon's cold twilight! Loathsome toads hold their meetings Yonder at every crossway.
Injuring not, Fear will they cause thee. Oh, worthy man, Fly from this land!
1767. ——- THIRD ODE.
BE void of feeling! A heart that soon is stirr'd, Is a possession sad Upon this changing earth.
Behrisch, let spring's sweet smile Never gladden thy brow! Then winter's gloomy tempests Never will shadow it o'er.
Lean thyself ne'er on a maiden's Sorrow-engendering breast. Ne'er on the arm, Misery-fraught, of a friend.
Already envy From out his rocky ambush Upon thee turns The force of his lynx-like eyes,
Stretches his talons, On thee falls, In thy shoulders Cunningly plants them.
Strong are his skinny arms, As panther-claws; He shaketh thee, And rends thy frame.
Death 'tis to part, 'Tis threefold death To part, not hoping Ever to meet again.
Thou wouldst rejoice to leave This hated land behind, Wert thou not chain'd to me With friendships flowery chains.
Burst them! I'll not repine. No noble friend Would stay his fellow-captive, If means of flight appear.
The remembrance Of his dear friend's freedom Gives him freedom In his dungeon.
Thou go'st,—I'm left. But e'en already The last year's winged spokes Whirl round the smoking axle.
I number the turns Of the thundering wheel; The last one I bless.— Each bar then is broken, I'm free then as thou!
1767. ——- MAHOMET'S SONG.
[This song was intended to be introduced in a dramatic poem entitled Mahomet, the plan of which was not carried out by Goethe. He mentions that it was to have been sung by Ali towards the end of the piece, in honor of his master, Mahomet, shortly before his death, and when at the height of his glory, of which it is typical.]
SEE the rock-born stream! Like the gleam Of a star so bright Kindly spirits High above the clouds Nourished him while youthful In the copse between the cliffs.
Young and fresh. From the clouds he danceth Down upon the marble rocks; Then tow'rd heaven Leaps exulting.
Through the mountain-passes Chaseth he the colour'd pebbles, And, advancing like a chief, Tears his brother streamlets with him In his course.
In the valley down below 'Neath his footsteps spring the flowers, And the meadow In his breath finds life.
Yet no shady vale can stay him, Nor can flowers, Round his knees all-softly twining With their loving eyes detain him; To the plain his course he taketh, Serpent-winding,
Social streamlets Join his waters. And now moves he O'er the plain in silv'ry glory, And the plain in him exults, And the rivers from the plain, And the streamlets from the mountain, Shout with joy, exclaiming: "Brother, Brother, take thy brethren with thee, With thee to thine aged father, To the everlasting ocean, Who, with arms outstretching far, Waiteth for us; Ah, in vain those arms lie open To embrace his yearning children; For the thirsty sand consumes us In the desert waste; the sunbeams Drink our life-blood; hills around us Into lakes would dam us! Brother, Take thy brethren of the plain, Take thy brethren of the mountain With thee, to thy father's arms!
Let all come, then!— And now swells he Lordlier still; yea, e'en a people Bears his regal flood on high! And in triumph onward rolling, Names to countries gives he,—cities Spring to light beneath his foot.
Ever, ever, on he rushes, Leaves the towers' flame-tipp'd summits, Marble palaces, the offspring Of his fullness, far behind.
Cedar-houses bears the Atlas On his giant shoulders; flutt'ring In the breeze far, far above him Thousand flags are gaily floating, Bearing witness to his might.
And so beareth he his brethren, All his treasures, all his children, Wildly shouting, to the bosom Of his long-expectant sire.
1774. ——- SPIRIT SONG OVER THE WATERS.
THE soul of man Resembleth water: From heaven it cometh, To heaven it soareth. And then again To earth descendeth, Changing ever.
Down from the lofty Rocky wall Streams the bright flood, Then spreadeth gently In cloudy billows O'er the smooth rock, And welcomed kindly, Veiling, on roams it, Soft murmuring, Tow'rd the abyss.
Cliffs projecting Oppose its progress,— Angrily foams it Down to the bottom, Step by step.
Now, in flat channel, Through the meadowland steals it, And in the polish'd lake Each constellation Joyously peepeth.
Wind is the loving Wooer of waters; Wind blends together Billows all-foaming.
Spirit of man, Thou art like unto water! Fortune of man, Thou art like unto wind!
1789.* ——- MY GODDESS.
SAY, which Immortal Merits the highest reward? With none contend I, But I will give it To the aye-changing, Ever-moving Wondrous daughter of Jove. His best-beloved offspring. Sweet Phantasy.
For unto her Hath he granted All the fancies which erst To none allow'd he Saving himself; Now he takes his pleasure In the mad one.
She may, crowned with roses, With staff twined round with lilies, Roam thro' flow'ry valleys, Rule the butterfly-people, And soft-nourishing dew With bee-like lips Drink from the blossom:
Or else she may With fluttering hair And gloomy looks Sigh in the wind Round rocky cliffs, And thousand-hued. Like morn and even. Ever changing, Like moonbeam's light, To mortals appear.
Let us all, then, Adore the Father! The old, the mighty, Who such a beauteous Ne'er-fading spouse Deigns to accord To perishing mortals!
To us alone Doth he unite her, With heavenly bonds, While he commands her, in joy and sorrow, As a true spouse Never to fly us.
All the remaining Races so poor Of life-teeming earth. In children so rich. Wander and feed In vacant enjoyment, And 'mid the dark sorrows Of evanescent Restricted life,— Bow'd by the heavy Yoke of Necessity.
But unto us he Hath his most versatile, Most cherished daughter Granted,—what joy!
Lovingly greet her As a beloved one! Give her the woman's Place in our home!
And oh, may the aged Stepmother Wisdom Her gentle spirit Ne'er seek to harm!
Yet know I her sister, The older, sedater, Mine own silent friend; Oh, may she never, Till life's lamp is quench'd, Turn away from me,— That noble inciter, Comforter,—Hope!
1781. ——- WINTER JOURNEY OVER THE HARTZ MOUNTAINS.
[The following explanation is necessary, in order to make this ode in any way intelligible. The Poet is supposed to leave his companions, who are proceeding on a hunting expedition in winter, in order himself to pay a visit to a hypochondriacal friend, and also to see the mining in the Hartz mountains. The ode alternately describes, in a very fragmentary and peculiar manner, the naturally happy disposition of the Poet himself and the unhappiness of his friend; it pictures the wildness of the road and the dreariness of the prospect, which is relieved at one spot by the distant sight of a town, a very vague allusion to which is made in the third strophe; it recalls the hunting party on which his companions have gone; and after an address to Love, concludes by a contrast between the unexplored recesses of the highest peak of the Hartz and the metalliferous veins of its smaller brethren.]
LIKE the vulture Who on heavy morning clouds With gentle wing reposing Looks for his prey,— Hover, my song!
For a God hath Unto each prescribed His destined path, Which the happy one Runs o'er swiftly To his glad goal: He whose heart cruel Fate hath contracted, Struggles but vainly Against all the barriers The brazen thread raises, But which the harsh shears Must one day sever.
Through gloomy thickets Presseth the wild deer on, And with the sparrows Long have the wealthy Settled themselves in the marsh.
Easy 'tis following the chariot That by Fortune is driven, Like the baggage that moves Over well-mended highways After the train of a prince.
But who stands there apart? In the thicket, lost is his path; Behind him the bushes Are closing together, The grass springs up again, The desert engulphs him.
Ah, who'll heal his afflictions, To whom balsam was poison, Who, from love's fullness, Drank in misanthropy only? First despised, and now a despiser, He, in secret, wasteth All that he is worth, In a selfishness vain. If there be, on thy psaltery, Father of Love, but one tone That to his ear may be pleasing, Oh, then, quicken his heart! Clear his cloud-enveloped eyes Over the thousand fountains Close by the thirsty one In the desert.
Thou who createst much joy, For each a measure o'erflowing, Bless the sons of the chase When on the track of the prey, With a wild thirsting for blood, Youthful and joyous Avenging late the injustice Which the peasant resisted Vainly for years with his staff.
But the lonely one veil Within thy gold clouds! Surround with winter-green, Until the roses bloom again, The humid locks, Oh Love, of thy minstrel!
With thy glimmering torch Lightest thou him Through the fords when 'tis night, Over bottomless places On desert-like plains; With the thousand colours of morning Gladd'nest his bosom; With the fierce-biting storm Bearest him proudly on high; Winter torrents rush from the cliffs,— Blend with his psalms; An altar of grateful delight He finds in the much-dreaded mountain's Snow-begirded summit, Which foreboding nations Crown'd with spirit-dances.
Thou stand'st with breast inscrutable, Mysteriously disclosed, High o'er the wondering world, And look'st from clouds Upon its realms and its majesty, Which thou from the veins of thy brethren Near thee dost water.
1777. ——- TO FATHER* KRONOS.
[written in a post-chaise.]
(* In the original, Schwager, which has the twofold meaning of brother-in-law and postilion.)
HASTEN thee, Kronos! On with clattering trot Downhill goeth thy path; Loathsome dizziness ever, When thou delayest, assails me. Quick, rattle along, Over stock and stone let thy trot Into life straightway lead
Now once more Up the toilsome ascent Hasten, panting for breath! Up, then, nor idle be,— Striving and hoping, up, up!
Wide, high, glorious the view Gazing round upon life, While from mount unto mount Hovers the spirit eterne, Life eternal foreboding.
Sideways a roof's pleasant shade Attracts thee, And a look that promises coolness On the maidenly threshold. There refresh thee! And, maiden, Give me this foaming draught also, Give me this health-laden look!
Down, now! quicker still, down! See where the sun sets Ere he sets, ere old age Seizeth me in the morass, Ere my toothless jaws mumble, And my useless limbs totter; While drunk with his farewell beam Hurl me,—a fiery sea Foaming still in mine eye,— Hurl me, while dazzled and reeling, Down to the gloomy portal of hell.
Blow, then, gossip, thy horn, Speed on with echoing trot, So that Orcus may know we are coming; So that our host may with joy Wait at the door to receive us.
1774. ——- THE WANDERER'S STORM-SONG.
[Goethe says of this ode, that it is the only one remaining out of several strange hymns and dithyrambs composed by him at a period of great unhappiness, when the love-affair between him and Frederica had been broken off by him. He used to sing them while wandering wildly about the country. This particular one was caused by his being caught in a tremendous storm on one of these occasions. He calls it a half-crazy piece (halkunsinn), and the reader will probably agree with him.]
He whom thou ne'er leavest, Genius, Feels no dread within his heart At the tempest or the rain. He whom thou ne'er leavest, Genius, Will to the rain-clouds, Will to the hailstorm, Sing in reply As the lark sings, Oh thou on high!
Him whom thou ne'er leavest, Genius, Thou wilt raise above the mud-track With thy fiery pinions. He will wander, As, with flowery feet, Over Deucalion's dark flood, Python-slaying, light, glorious, Pythius Apollo.
Him whom thou ne'er leavest, Genius, Thou wilt place upon thy fleecy pinion When he sleepeth on the rock,— Thou wilt shelter with thy guardian wing In the forest's midnight hour.
Him whom thou ne'er leavest, Genius, Thou wilt wrap up warmly In the snow-drift; Tow'rd the warmth approach the Muses, Tow'rd the warmth approach the Graces.
Ye Muses, hover round me! Ye Graces also! That is water, that is earth, And the son of water and of earth Over which I wander, Like the gods.
Ye are pure, like the heart of the water, Ye are pure like the marrow of earth, Hov'ring round me, while I hover Over water, o'er the earth Like the gods.
Shall he, then, return, The small, the dark, the fiery peasant? Shall he, then, return, waiting Only thy gifts, oh Father Bromius, And brightly gleaming, warmth-spreading fire? Return with joy? And I, whom ye attended, Ye Muses and ye Graces, Whom all awaits that ye, Ye Muses and ye Graces, Of circling bliss in life Have glorified—shall I Return dejected?
Father Bromius! Thourt the Genius, Genius of ages, Thou'rt what inward glow To Pindar was, What to the world Phoebus Apollo.
Woe! Woe Inward warmth, Spirit-warmth, Central-point! Glow, and vie with Phoebus Apollo! Coldly soon His regal look Over thee will swiftly glide,—
Envy-struck Linger o'er the cedar's strength, Which, to flourish, Waits him not.
Why doth my lay name thee the last? Thee, from whom it began, Thee, in whom it endeth, Thee, from whom it flows, Jupiter Pluvius! Tow'rd thee streams my song. And a Castalian spring Runs as a fellow-brook, Runs to the idle ones, Mortal, happy ones, Apart from thee, Who cov'rest me around, Jupiter Pluvius!
Not by the elm-tree Him didst thou visit, With the pair of doves Held in his gentle arm,— With the beauteous garland of roses,— Caressing him, so blest in his flowers, Anacreon, Storm-breathing godhead! Not in the poplar grove, Near the Sybaris' strand, Not on the mountain's Sun-illumined brow Didst thou seize him, The flower-singing, Honey-breathing, Sweetly nodding Theocritus.
When the wheels were rattling, Wheel on wheel tow'rd the goal, High arose The sound of the lash Of youths with victory glowing, In the dust rolling, As from the mountain fall Showers of stones in the vale— Then thy soul was brightly glowing, Pindar— Glowing? Poor heart!
There, on the hill,— Heavenly might! But enough glow Thither to wend, Where is my cot!
1771. ——- THE SEA-VOYAGE.
MANY a day and night my bark stood ready laden; Waiting fav'ring winds, I sat with true friends round me, Pledging me to patience and to courage, In the haven.
And they spoke thus with impatience twofold: "Gladly pray we for thy rapid passage, Gladly for thy happy voyage; fortune In the distant world is waiting for thee, In our arms thoult find thy prize, and love too, When returning."
And when morning came, arose an uproar, And the sailors' joyous shouts awoke us; All was stirring, all was living, moving, Bent on sailing with the first kind zephyr.
And the sails soon in the breeze are swelling, And the sun with fiery love invites us; Fill'd the sails are, clouds on high are floating, On the shore each friend exulting raises Songs of hope, in giddy joy expecting Joy the voyage through, as on the morn of sailing, And the earliest starry nights so radiant.
But by God-sent changing winds ere long he's driven Sideways from the course he had intended, And he feigns as though he would surrender, While he gently striveth to outwit them,
To his goal, e'en when thus press'd, still faithful. But from out the damp grey distance rising, Softly now the storm proclaims its advent, Presseth down each bird upon the waters, Presseth down the throbbing hearts of mortals. And it cometh. At its stubborn fury, Wisely ev'ry sail the seaman striketh; With the anguish-laden ball are sporting Wind and water.
And on yonder shore are gather'd standing, Friends and lovers, trembling for the bold one: "Why, alas, remain'd he here not with us! Ah, the tempest! Cast away by fortune! Must the good one perish in this fashion? Might not he perchance.... Ye great immortals!"
Yet he, like a man, stands by his rudder; With the bark are sporting wind and water, Wind and water sport not with his bosom: On the fierce deep looks he, as a master,— In his gods, or shipwreck'd, or safe landed, Trusting ever.
1776. ——- THE EAGLE AND DOVE.
IN search of prey once raised his pinions An eaglet; A huntsman's arrow came, and reft His right wing of all motive power. Headlong he fell into a myrtle grove, For three long days on anguish fed, In torment writhed Throughout three long, three weary nights; And then was cured, Thanks to all-healing Nature's Soft, omnipresent balm. He crept away from out the copse, And stretch'd his wing—alas! Lost is all power of flight— He scarce can lift himself From off the ground To catch some mean, unworthy prey, And rests, deep-sorrowing, On the low rock beside the stream. Up to the oak he looks, Looks up to heaven, While in his noble eye there gleams a tear. Then, rustling through the myrtle boughs, behold, There comes a wanton pair of doves, Who settle down, and, nodding, strut O'er the gold sands beside the stream, And gradually approach; Their red-tinged eyes, so full of love, Soon see the inward-sorrowing one. The male, inquisitively social, leaps On the next bush, and looks Upon him kindly and complacently. "Thou sorrowest," murmurs he: "Be of good cheer, my friend! All that is needed for calm happiness Hast thou not here? Hast thou not pleasure in the golden bough That shields thee from the day's fierce glow? Canst thou not raise thy breast to catch, On the soft moss beside the brook, The sun's last rays at even? Here thou mayst wander through the flowers' fresh dew, Pluck from the overflow The forest-trees provide, Thy choicest food,—mayst quench Thy light thirst at the silvery spring. Oh friend, true happiness Lies in contentedness, And that contentedness Finds everywhere enough." "Oh, wise one!" said the eagle, while he sank In deep and ever deep'ning thought— "Oh Wisdom! like a dove thou speakest!"
1774.* ——- PROMETHEUS.
COVER thy spacious heavens, Zeus, With clouds of mist, And, like the boy who lops The thistles' heads, Disport with oaks and mountain-peaks, Yet thou must leave My earth still standing; My cottage too, which was not raised by thee; Leave me my hearth, Whose kindly glow By thee is envied.
I know nought poorer Under the sun, than ye gods! Ye nourish painfully, With sacrifices And votive prayers, Your majesty: Ye would e'en starve, If children and beggars Were not trusting fools.
While yet a child And ignorant of life, I turned my wandering gaze Up tow'rd the sun, as if with him There were an ear to hear my wailings, A heart, like mine, To feel compassion for distress.
Who help'd me Against the Titans' insolence? Who rescued me from certain death, From slavery? Didst thou not do all this thyself, My sacred glowing heart? And glowedst, young and good, Deceived with grateful thanks To yonder slumbering one?
I honour thee! and why? Hast thou e'er lighten'd the sorrows Of the heavy laden? Hast thou e'er dried up the tears Of the anguish-stricken? Was I not fashion'd to be a man By omnipotent Time, And by eternal Fate, Masters of me and thee?
Didst thou e'er fancy That life I should learn to hate, And fly to deserts, Because not all My blossoming dreams grew ripe?
Here sit I, forming mortals After my image; A race resembling me, To suffer, to weep, To enjoy, to be glad, And thee to scorn, As I!
1773. ——- GANYMEDE.
How, in the light of morning, Round me thou glowest, Spring, thou beloved one! With thousand-varying loving bliss The sacred emotions Born of thy warmth eternal Press 'gainst my bosom, Thou endlessly fair one! Could I but hold thee clasp'd Within mine arms!
Ah! upon thy bosom Lay I, pining, And then thy flowers, thy grass, Were pressing against my heart. Thou coolest the burning Thirst of my bosom, Beauteous morning breeze! The nightingale then calls me Sweetly from out of the misty vale. I come, I come! Whither? Ah, whither?
Up, up, lies my course. While downward the clouds Are hovering, the clouds Are bending to meet yearning love. For me, Within thine arms Upwards! Embraced and embracing! Upwards into thy bosom, Oh Father all-loving!
1789.* ——- THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMANITY.
WHEN the primeval All-holy Father Sows with a tranquil hand From clouds, as they roll, Bliss-spreading lightnings Over the earth, Then do I kiss the last Hem of his garment, While by a childlike awe Fiil'd is my breast.
For with immortals Ne'er may a mortal Measure himself. If he soar upwards And if he touch With his forehead the stars, Nowhere will rest then His insecure feet, And with him sport Tempest and cloud.
Though with firm sinewy Limbs he may stand On the enduring Well-grounded earth, All he is ever Able to do, Is to resemble The oak or the vine.
Wherein do gods Differ from mortals? In that the former See endless billows Heaving before them; Us doth the billow Lift up and swallow, So that we perish.
Small is the ring Enclosing our life, And whole generations Link themselves firmly On to existence's Chain never-ending.
1789. * ——- THE GODLIKE.
NOBLE be man, Helpful and good! For that alone Distinguisheth him From all the beings Unto us known.
Hail to the beings, Unknown and glorious, Whom we forebode! From his example Learn we to know them!
For unfeeling Nature is ever: On bad and on good The sun alike shineth; And on the wicked, As on the best, The moon and stars gleam.
Tempest and torrent, Thunder and hail, Roar on their path, Seizing the while, As they haste onward, One after another.
Even so, fortune Gropes 'mid the throng— Innocent boyhood's Curly head seizing,— Seizing the hoary Head of the sinner.
After laws mighty, Brazen, eternal, Must all we mortals Finish the circuit Of our existence.
Man, and man only Can do the impossible; He 'tis distinguisheth, Chooseth and judgeth; He to the moment Endurance can lend.
He and he only The good can reward, The bad can he punish, Can heal and can save; All that wanders and strays Can usefully blend. And we pay homage To the immortals As though they were men, And did in the great, What the best, in the small, Does or might do.
Be the man that is noble, Both helpful and good. Unweariedly forming The right and the useful, A type of those beings Our mind hath foreshadow'd!
——- in the wares before you spread, Types of all things may be read. ——- THE GERMAN PARNASSUS.
'NEATH the shadow
Of these bushes, On the meadow
Where the cooling water gushes. Phoebus gave me, when a boy, All life's fullness to enjoy. So, in silence, as the God Bade them with his sov'reign nod, Sacred Muses train'd my days To his praise.— With the bright and silv'ry flood Of Parnassus stirr'd my blood, And the seal so pure and chaste By them on my lips was placed.
With her modest pinions, see, Philomel encircles me! In these bushes, in yon grove,
Calls she to her sister-throng,
And their heavenly choral song Teaches me to dream of love.
Fullness waxes in my breast Of emotions social, blest; Friendship's nurturedlove awakes,— And the silence Phoebus breaks Of his mountains, of his vales, Sweetly blow the balmy gales; All for whom he shows affection, Who are worthy his protection, Gladly follow his direction.
This one comes with joyous bearing
And with open, radiant gaze; That a sterner look is wearing, This one, scarcely cured, with daring
Wakes the strength of former days; For the sweet, destructive flame Pierced his marrow and his frame. That which Amor stole before Phoebus only can restore, Peace, and joy, and harmony, Aspirations pure and free.
Brethren, rise ye! Numbers prize ye! Deeds of worth resemble they.
Who can better than the bard Guide a friend when gone astray?
If his duty he regard, More he'll do, than others may.
Yes! afar I hear them sing! Yes! I hear them touch the string, And with mighty godlike stroke
Right and duty they inspire, And evoke,
As they sing, and wake the lyre, Tendencies of noblest worth, To each type of strength give birth.
Phantasies of sweetest power Flower Round about on ev'ry bough, Bending now Like the magic wood of old, 'Neath the fruit that gleams like gold.
What we feel and what we view
In the land of highest bliss,—
This dear soil, a sun like this,— Lures the best of women too. And the Muses' breathings blest Rouse the maiden's gentle breast, Tune the throat to minstrelsy, And with cheeks of beauteous dye, Bid it sing a worthy song, Sit the sister-band among; And their strains grow softer still, As they vie with earnest will.
One amongst the band betimes
Goes to wander By the beeches, 'neath the limes,
Yonder seeking, finding yonder That which in the morning-grove She had lost through roguish Love, All her breast's first aspirations, And her heart's calm meditations, To the shady wood so fair
Gently stealing, Takes she that which man can ne'er
Duly merit,—each soft feeling,— Disregards the noontide ray And the dew at close of day,
In the plain her path she loses. Ne'er disturb her on her way!
Seek her silently, ye Muses
Shouts I hear, wherein the sound Of the waterfall is drown'd. From the grove loud clamours rise, Strange the tumult, strange the cries. See I rightly? Can it be? To the very sanctuary, Lo, an impious troop in-hies!
O'er the land Streams the band; Hot desire, Drunken-fire In their gaze Wildly plays,— Makes their hair Bristle there. And the troop, With fell swoop, Women, men, Coming then, Ply their blows And expose, Void of shame, All the frame. Iron shot, Fierce and hot, Strike with fear On the ear; All they slay On their way. O'er the land Pours the band; All take flight At their sight.
Ah, o'er ev'ry plant they rush! Ah, their cruel footsteps crush All the flowers that fill their path! Who will dare to stem their wrath?
Brethren, let us venture all!
Virtue in your pure cheek glows. Phoebus will attend our call
When he sees our heavy woes; And that we may have aright Weapons suited to the fight, He the mountain shaketh now— From its brow Rattling down Stone on stone Through the thicket spread appear. Brethren, seize them! Wherefore fear? Now the villain crew assail, As though with a storm of hail, And expel the strangers wild From these regions soft and mild Where the sun has ever smil'd!
What strange wonder do I see? Can it be? All my limbs of power are reft. And all strength my hand has left. Can it he? None are strangers that I see! And our brethren 'tis who go On before, the way to show! Oh, the reckless impious ones! How they, with their jarring tones, Beat the time, as on they hie! Quick, my brethren!—let us fly!
To the rash ones, yet a word! Ay, my voice shall now be heard, As a peal of thunder, strong!
Words as poets' arms were made,—
When the god will he obey'd, Follow fast his darts ere long.
Was it possible that ye Thus your godlike dignity Should forget? The Thyrsus rude
Must a heavy burden feel
To the hand but wont to steal O'er the lyre in gentle mood. From the sparkling waterfalls, From the brook that purling calls, Shall Silenus' loathsome beast Be allow'd at will to feast? Aganippe's * wave he sips With profane and spreading lips,— With ungainly feet stamps madly, Till the waters flow on sadly.
Fain I'd think myself deluded
In the sadd'ning sounds I hear; From the holy glades secluded
Hateful tones assail the ear. Laughter wild (exchange how mournful!)
Takes the place of love's sweet dream; Women-haters and the scornful
In exulting chorus scream. Nightingale and turtle dove
Fly their nests so warm and chaste, And, inflamed with sensual love,
Holds the Faun the Nymph embrac'd. Here a garment's torn away,
Scoffs succeed their sated bliss, While the god, with angry ray,
Looks upon each impious kiss.
Vapour, smoke, as from a fire,
And advancing clouds I view; Chords not only grace the lyre,
For the bow its chords bath too. Even the adorer's heart
Dreads the wild advancing hand, For the flames that round them dart
Show the fierce destroyer's hand.
Oh neglect not what I say,
For I speak it lovingly! From our boundaries haste away,
From the god's dread anger fly! Cleanse once more the holy place,
Turn the savage train aside! Earth contains upon its face
Many a spot unsanctified; Here we only prize the good.
Stars unsullied round us burn.
If ye, in repentant mood,
From your wanderings would return,— If ye fail to find the bliss
That ye found with us of yore,— Or when lawless mirth like this
Gives your hearts delight no more,— Then return in pilgrim guise,
Gladly up the mountain go, While your strains repentant rise,
And our brethren's advent show.
Let a new-born wreath entwine
Solemnly your temples round; Rapture glows in hearts divine
When a long-lost sinner's found. Swifter e'en than Lathe's flood
Round Death's silent house can play, Ev'ry error of the good
Will love's chalice wash away. All will haste your steps to meet,
As ye come in majesty,— Men your blessing will entreat;—
Ours ye thus will doubly be!
1798. (* Aganippe—A spring in Boeotia, which arose out of Mount Helicon, and was sacred to Apollo and the Muses.) ——- LILY'S MENAGERIE.
[Goethe describes this much-admired Poem, which he wrote in honour of his love Lily, as being "designed to change his surrender of her into despair, by drolly-fretful images."]
THERE'S no menagerie, I vow,
Excels my Lily's at this minute;
She keeps the strangest creatures in it, And catches them, she knows not how.
Oh, how they hop, and run, and rave, And their clipp'd pinions wildly wave,— Poor princes, who must all endure The pangs of love that nought can cure.
What is the fairy's name?—Is't Lily?—Ask not me! Give thanks to Heaven if she's unknown to thee.
Oh what a cackling, what a shrieking,
When near the door she takes her stand,
With her food-basket in her hand! Oh what a croaking, what a squeaking! Alive all the trees and the bushes appear, While to her feet whole troops draw near; The very fish within, the water clear Splash with impatience and their heads protrude; And then she throws around the food With such a look!—the very gods delighting (To say nought of beasts). There begins, then, a biting, A picking, a pecking, a sipping, And each o'er the legs of another is tripping, And pushing, and pressing, and flapping, And chasing, and fuming, and snapping, And all for one small piece of bread, To which, though dry, her fair hands give a taste, As though it in ambrosia had been plac'd.
And then her look! the tone
With which she calls: Pipi! Pipi! Would draw Jove's eagle from his throne; Yes, Venus' turtle doves, I wean, And the vain peacock e'en, Would come, I swear, Soon as that tone had reach'd them through the air.
E'en from a forest dark had she
Enticed a bear, unlick'd, ill-bred,
And, by her wiles alluring, led To join the gentle company, Until as tame as they was he: (Up to a certain point, be't understood!) How fair, and, ah, how good She seem'd to be! I would have drain'd my blood To water e'en her flow'rets sweet.
"Thou sayest: I! Who? How? And where?"— Well, to be plain, good Sirs—I am the bear;
In a net-apron, caught, alas!
Chain'd by a silk-thread at her feet.
But how this wonder came to pass I'll tell some day, if ye are curious; Just now, my temper's much too furious.
Ah, when I'm in the corner plac'd,
And hear afar the creatures snapping,
And see the flipping and the flapping,
I turn around
With growling sound,
And backward run a step in haste,
And look around
With growling sound.
Then run again a step in haste, And to my former post go round.
But suddenly my anger grows, A mighty spirit fills my nose, My inward feelings all revolt. A creature such as thou! a dolt! Pipi, a squirrel able nuts to crack! I bristle up my shaggy back Unused a slave to be. I'm laughed at by each trim and upstart tree To scorn. The bowling-green I fly,
With neatly-mown and well-kept grass:
The box makes faces as I pass,— Into the darkest thicket hasten I, Hoping to 'scape from the ring, Over the palings to spring! Vainly I leap and climb;
I feel a leaden spell.
That pinions me as well, And when I'm fully wearied out in time, I lay me down beside some mock-cascade,
And roll myself half dead, and foam, and cry,
And, ah! no Oreads hear my sigh, Excepting those of china made!
But, ah, with sudden power
In all my members blissful feelings reign! 'Tis she who singeth yonder in her bower!
I hear that darling, darling voice again. The air is warm, and teems with fragrance clear, Sings she perchance for me alone to hear?
I haste, and trample down the shrubs amain; The trees make way, the bushes all retreat, And so—the beast is lying at her feet.
She looks at him: "The monster's droll enough!
He's, for a bear, too mild,
Yet, for a dog, too wild, So shaggy, clumsy, rough!" Upon his back she gently strokes her foot;
He thinks himself in Paradise. What feelings through his seven senses shoot!
But she looks on with careless eyes. I lick her soles, and kiss her shoes,
As gently as a bear well may; Softly I rise, and with a clever ruse
Leap on her knee.—On a propitious day She suffers it; my ears then tickles she,
And hits me a hard blow in wanton play; I growl with new-born ecstasy; Then speaks she in a sweet vain jest, I wot "Allons lout doux! eh! la menotte! Et faites serviteur Comme un joli seigneur." Thus she proceeds with sport and glee;
Hope fills the oft-deluded beast; Yet if one moment he would lazy be,
Her fondness all at once hath ceas'd.
She doth a flask of balsam-fire possess,
Sweeter than honey bees can make,
One drop of which she'll on her finger take, When soften'd by his love and faithfulness,
Wherewith her monster's raging thirst to slake; Then leaves me to myself, and flies at last, And I, unbound, yet prison'd fast By magic, follow in her train, Seek for her, tremble, fly again. The hapless creature thus tormenteth she,
Regardless of his pleasure or his woe; Ha! oft half-open'd does she leave the door for me,
And sideways looks to learn if I will fly or no. And I—Oh gods! your hands alone Can end the spell that's o'er me thrown; Free me, and gratitude my heart will fill;
And yet from heaven ye send me down no aid—
Not quite in vain doth life my limbs pervade: I feel it! Strength is left me still.
1775. ——- TO CHARLOTTE.
'MIDST the noise of merriment and glee,
'Midst full many a sorrow, many a care, Charlotte, I remember, we remember thee,
How, at evening's hour so fair, Thou a kindly hand didst reach us,
When thou, in some happy place
Where more fair is Nature s face,
Many a lightly-hidden trace Of a spirit loved didst teach us.
Well 'tis that thy worth I rightly knew,—
That I, in the hour when first we met,
While the first impression fill'd me yet, Call'd thee then a girl both good and true.
Rear'd in silence, calmly, knowing nought,
On the world we suddenly are thrown; Hundred thousand billows round us sport;
All things charm us—many please alone, Many grieve us, and as hour on hour is stealing,
To and fro our restless natures sway; First we feel, and then we find each feeling
By the changeful world-stream borne away.
Well I know, we oft within us find
Many a hope and many a smart. Charlotte, who can know our mind?
Charlotte, who can know our heart? Ah! 'twould fain be understood, 'twould fain o'erflow
In some creature's fellow-feelings blest, And, with trust, in twofold measure know
All the grief and joy in Nature's breast.
Then thine eye is oft around thee cast,
But in vain, for all seems closed for ever. Thus the fairest part of life is madly pass'd
Free from storm, but resting never: To thy sorrow thou'rt to-day repell'd
By what yesterday obey'd thee. Can that world by thee be worthy held
Which so oft betray'd thee?
Which, 'mid all thy pleasures and thy pains,
Lived in selfish, unconcern'd repose? See, the soul its secret cells regains,
And the heart—makes haste to close. Thus found I thee, and gladly went to meet thee;
"She's worthy of all love!" I cried, And pray'd that Heaven with purest bliss might greet thee,
Which in thy friend it richly hath supplied.
1776.* ——- LOVE'S DISTRESSES.
WHO will hear me? Whom shall I lament to? Who would pity me that heard my sorrows? Ah, the lip that erst so many raptures Used to taste, and used to give responsive, Now is cloven, and it pains me sorely; And it is not thus severely wounded By my mistress having caught me fiercely, And then gently bitten me, intending To secure her friend more firmly to her: No, my tender lip is crack'd thus, only By the winds, o'er rime and frost proceeding, Pointed, sharp, unloving, having met me. Now the noble grape's bright juice commingled With the bee's sweet juice, upon the fire Of my hearth, shall ease me of my torment. Ah, what use will all this be, if with it Love adds not a drop of his own balsam?
1789.* ——- THE MUSAGETES.
IN the deepest nights of Winter To the Muses kind oft cried I: "Not a ray of morn is gleaming, Not a sign of daylight breaking; Bring, then, at the fitting moment, Bring the lamp's soft glimm'ring lustre, 'Stead of Phoebus and Aurora, To enliven my still labours!" Yet they left me in my slumbers, Dull and unrefreshing, lying, And to each late-waken'd morning Follow'd days devoid of profit.
When at length return'd the spring-time, To the nightingales thus spake I: "Darling nightingales, oh, beat ye Early, early at my window,— Wake me from the heavy slumber That chains down the youth so strongly!" Yet the love-o'erflowing songsters Their sweet melodies protracted Through the night before my window, Kept awake my loving spirit, Rousing new and tender yearnings In my newly-waken'd bosom. And the night thus fleeted o'er me, And Aurora found me sleeping,— Ay, the sun could scarce arouse me.
Now at length is come the Summer, And the early fly so busy Draws me from my pleasing slumbers At the first-born morning-glimmer. Mercilessly then returns she, Though the half-aroused one often Scares her from him with impatience, And she lures her shameless sisters, So that from my weary eyelids Kindly sleep ere long is driven. From my couch then boldly spring I, And I seek the darling Muses, in the beechen-grove I find them, Full of pieasure to receive me; And to the tormenting insects Owe I many a golden hour. Thus be ye, unwelcome beings, Highly valued by the poet, As the flies my numbers tell of.
1798. ——- MORNING LAMENT.
OH thou cruel deadly-lovely maiden, Tell me what great sin have I committed, That thou keep'st me to the rack thus fasten'd, That thou hast thy solemn promise broken?
'Twas but yestere'en that thou with fondness Press'd my hand, and these sweet accents murmured: "Yes, I'll come, I'll come when morn approacheth, Come, my friend, full surely to thy chamber."
On the latch I left my doors, unfasten'd, Having first with care tried all the hinges, And rejoic'd right well to find they creak'd not.
What a night of expectation pass'd I! For I watch'd, and ev'ry chime I number'd; If perchance I slept a few short moments, Still my heart remain'd awake forever, And awoke me from my gentle slumbers.
Yes, then bless'd I night's o'erhanging darkness, That so calmly cover'd all things round me; I enjoy'd the universal silence, While I listen'd ever in the silence, If perchance the slightest sounds were stirring.
"Had she only thoughts, my thoughts resembling, Had she only feelings, like my feelings, She would not await the dawn of morning. But, ere this, would surely have been with me."
Skipp'd a kitten on the floor above me, Scratch'd a mouse a panel in the corner, Was there in the house the slightest motion, Ever hoped I that I heard thy footstep, Ever thought I that I heard thee coming. And so lay I long, and ever longer, And already was the daylight dawning, And both here and there were signs of movement.
"Is it yon door? Were it my door only!" In my bed I lean'd upon my elbow, Looking tow'rd the door, now half-apparent, If perchance it might not be in motion. Both the wings upon the latch continued, On the quiet hinges calmly hanging.
And the day grew bright and brighter ever; And I heard my neighbour's door unbolted, As he went to earn his daily wages, And ere long I heard the waggons rumbling, And the city gates were also open'd, While the market-place, in ev'ry corner, Teem'd with life and bustle and confusion.
In the house was going now and coming Up and down the stairs, and doors were creaking Backwards now, now forwards,—footsteps clatter'd Yet, as though it were a thing all-living, From my cherish'd hope I could not tear me.
When at length the sun, in hated splendour. Fell upon my walls, upon my windows, Up I sprang, and hasten'd to the garden, There to blend my breath, so hot and yearning, With the cool refreshing morning breezes, And, it might be, even there to meet thee: But I cannot find thee in the arbour, Or the avenue of lofty lindens.
1789.* ——- THE VISIT.
FAIN had I to-day surprised my mistress, But soon found I that her door was fasten'd. Yet I had the key safe in my pocket, And the darling door I open'd softly! In the parlour found I not the maiden, Found the maiden not within her closet, Then her chamber-door I gently open'd, When I found her wrapp'd in pleasing slumbers, Fully dress'd, and lying on the sofa.
While at work had slumber stolen o'er her; For her knitting and her needle found I Resting in her folded bands so tender; And I placed myself beside her softly, And held counsel, whether I should wake her.
Then I looked upon the beauteous quiet That on her sweet eyelids was reposing On her lips was silent truth depicted, On her cheeks had loveliness its dwelling, And the pureness of a heart unsullied In her bosom evermore was heaving. All her limbs were gracefully reclining, Set at rest by sweet and godlike balsam. Gladly sat I, and the contemplation Held the strong desire I felt to wake her Firmer and firmer down, with mystic fetters.
"Oh, thou love," methought, "I see that slumber, Slumber that betrayeth each false feature, Cannot injure thee, can nought discover That could serve to harm thy friend's soft feelings.
"Now thy beauteous eyes are firmly closed, That, when open, form mine only rapture. And thy sweet lips are devoid of motion, Motionless for speaking or for kissing; Loosen'd are the soft and magic fetters Of thine arms, so wont to twine around me, And the hand, the ravishing companion Of thy sweet caresses, lies unmoving. Were my thoughts of thee but based on error, Were the love I bear thee self-deception, I must now have found it out, since Amor Is, without his bandage, placed beside me."
Long I sat thus, full of heartfelt pleasure At my love, and at her matchless merit; She had so delighted me while slumbering, That I could not venture to awake her.
Then I on the little table near her Softly placed two oranges, two roses; Gently, gently stole I from her chamber. When her eyes the darling one shall open, She will straightway spy these colourd presents, And the friendly gift will view with wonder, For the door will still remain unopen'd.
If perchance I see to-night the angel, How will she rejoice,—reward me doubly For this sacrifice of fond affection!
1765. ——- THE MAGIC NET.
Do I see a contest yonder? See I miracles or pastimes? Beauteous urchins, five in number, 'Gainst five sisters fair contending,— Measured is the time they're beating— At a bright enchantress' bidding. Glitt'ring spears by some are wielded, Threads are others nimbly twining,
So that in their snares, the weapons One would think, must needs be captured, Soon, in truth, the spears are prison'd; Yet they, in the gentle war-dance, One by one escape their fetters In the row of loops so tender, That make haste to seize a free one Soon as they release a captive.
So with contests, strivings, triumphs, Flying now, and now returning, Is an artful net soon woven, In its whiteness like the snow-flakes, That, from light amid the darkness, Draw their streaky lines so varied, As e'en colours scarce can draw them.
Who shall now receive that garment Far beyond all others wish'd-for? Whom our much-loved mistress favour As her own acknowledged servant? I am blest by kindly Fortune's Tokens true, in silence pray'd for! And I feel myself held captive, To her service now devoted.
Yet, e'en while I, thus enraptured, Thus adorn'd, am proudly wand'ring, See! yon wantons are entwining, Void of strife, with secret ardour, Other nets, each fine and finer, Threads of twilight interweaving, Moonbeams sweet, night-violets' balsam.
Ere the net is noticed by us, Is a happier one imprison'd, Whom we, one and all, together Greet with envy and with blessings.
1803. ——- THE GOBLET.
ONCE I held a well-carved brimming goblet,— In my two hands tightly clasp'd I held it, Eagerly the sweet wine sipp'd I from it, Seeking there to drown all care and sorrow.
Amor enter'd in, and found me sitting, And he gently smiled in modest fashion, Smiled as though the foolish one he pitied.
"Friend, I know a far more beauteous vessel, One wherein to sink thy spirit wholly; Say, what wilt thou give me, if I grant it, And with other nectar fill it for thee?"
Oh, how kindly hath he kept his promise! For to me, who long had yearn'd, he granted Thee, my Lida, fill'd with soft affection.
When I clasp mine arms around thee fondly, When I drink in love's long-hoarded balsam From thy darling lips so true, so faithful, Fill'd with bliss thus speak I to my spirit "No! a vessel such as this, save Amor Never god hath fashion'd or been lord of! Such a form was ne'er produced by Vulcan With his cunning, reason-gifted hammers! On the leaf-crown'd mountains may Lyaeus Bid his Fauns, the oldest and the wisest, Pass the choicest clusters through the winepress, And himself watch o'er the fermentation: Such a draught no toil can e'er procure him!"
1781. ——- TO THE GRASSHOPPER.
[The strong resemblance of this fine poem to Cowley's Ode bearing the same name, and beginning "Happy insect! what can be," will be at once seen.]
HAPPY art thou, darling insect, Who, upon the trees' tall branches, By a modest draught inspired, Singing, like a monarch livest! Thou possessest as thy portion All that on the plains thou seest, All that by the hours is brought thee 'Mongst the husbandmen thou livest, As a friend, uninjured by them, Thou whom mortals love to honour, Herald sweet of sweet Spring's advent! Yes, thou'rt loved by all the Muses,
Phoebus' self, too, needs must love thee; They their silver voices gave thee, Age can never steal upon thee. Wise and gentle friend of poets, Born a creature fleshless, bloodless, Though Earth's daughter, free from suff'ring, To the gods e'en almost equal.
1781. ——- FROM 'THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER.'
[Prefixed to the second edition.]
EV'RY youth for love's sweet portion sighs,
Ev'ry maiden sighs to win man's love; Why, alas! should bitter pain arise
From the noblest passion that we prove?
Thou, kind soul, bewailest, lov'st him well,
From disgrace his memory's saved by thee; Lo, his spirit signs from out its cell:
BE A MAN, NOR SEEK TO FOLLOW ME.
1775. ——- TRILOGY OF PASSION.
I. TO WERTHER.
[This poem, written at the age of seventy-five, was appended to an edition of 'Werther,' published at that time.]
ONCE more, then, much-wept shadow, thou dost dare
Boldly to face the day's clear light, To meet me on fresh blooming meadows fair,
And dost not tremble at my sight. Those happy times appear return'd once more.
When on one field we quaff'd refreshing dew, And, when the day's unwelcome toils were o'er,
The farewell sunbeams bless'd our ravish'd view; Fate bade thee go,—to linger here was mine,— Going the first, the smaller loss was thine.
The life of man appears a glorious fate: The day how lovely, and the night how great! And we 'mid Paradise-like raptures plac'd, The sun's bright glory scarce have learn'd to taste.
When strange contending feelings dimly cover, Now us, and now the forms that round us hover; One's feelings by no other are supplied, 'Tis dark without, if all is bright inside; An outward brightness veils my sadden'd mood, When Fortune smiles,—how seldom understood! Now think we that we know her, and with might A woman's beauteous form instils delight; The youth, as glad as in his infancy, The spring-time treads, as though the spring were he Ravish'd, amazed, he asks, how this is done? He looks around, the world appears his own. With careless speed he wanders on through space, Nor walls, nor palaces can check his race; As some gay flight of birds round tree-tops plays, So 'tis with him who round his mistress strays; He seeks from AEther, which he'd leave behind him, The faithful look that fondly serves to bind him.
Yet first too early warn'd, and then too late, He feels his flight restrain'd, is captur'd straight To meet again is sweet, to part is sad, Again to meet again is still more glad, And years in one short moment are enshrin'd; But, oh, the harsh farewell is hid behind!
Thou smilest, friend, with fitting thoughts inspired; By a dread parting was thy fame acquired, Thy mournful destiny we sorrow'd o'er, For weal and woe thou left'st us evermore, And then again the passions' wavering force Drew us along in labyrinthine course; And we, consumed by constant misery, At length must part—and parting is to die! How moving is it, when the minstrel sings, To 'scape the death that separation brings! Oh grant, some god, to one who suffers so, To tell, half-guilty, his sad tale of woe
When man had ceased to utter his lament,
A god then let me tell my tale of sorrow.
WHAT hope of once more meeting is there now In the still-closed blossoms of this day? Both heaven and hell thrown open seest thou; What wav'ring thoughts within the bosom play No longer doubt! Descending from the sky, She lifts thee in her arms to realms on high.
And thus thou into Paradise wert brought,
As worthy of a pure and endless life; Nothing was left, no wish, no hope, no thought,
Here was the boundary of thine inmost strife: And seeing one so fair, so glorified, The fount of yearning tears was straightway dried.
No motion stirr'd the day's revolving wheel,
In their own front the minutes seem'd to go; The evening kiss, a true and binding seal,
Ne'er changing till the morrow's sunlight glow. The hours resembled sisters as they went. Yet each one from another different.
The last hour's kiss, so sadly sweet, effac'd
A beauteous network of entwining love. Now on the threshold pause the feet, now haste.
As though a flaming cherub bade them move; The unwilling eye the dark road wanders o'er, Backward it looks, but closed it sees the door.
And now within itself is closed this breast,
As though it ne'er were open, and as though, Vying with ev'ry star, no moments blest
Had, in its presence, felt a kindling glow; Sadness, reproach, repentance, weight of care, Hang heavy on it in the sultry air.
Is not the world still left? The rocky steeps,
Are they with holy shades no longer crown'd? Grows not the harvest ripe? No longer creeps
The espalier by the stream,—the copse around? Doth not the wondrous arch of heaven still rise, Now rich in shape, now shapeless to the eyes?
As, seraph-like, from out the dark clouds' chorus,
With softness woven, graceful, light, and fair, Resembling Her, in the blue aether o'er us,
A slender figure hovers in the air,— Thus didst thou see her joyously advance, The fairest of the fairest in the dance.
Yet but a moment dost thou boldly dare
To clasp an airy form instead of hers; Back to thine heart! thou'lt find it better there,
For there in changeful guise her image stirs What erst was one, to many turneth fast, In thousand forms, each dearer than the last.
As at the door, on meeting lingerd she,
And step by step my faithful ardour bless'd, For the last kiss herself entreated me,
And on my lips the last last kiss impress'd,— Thus clearly traced, the lov'd one's form we view, With flames engraven on a heart so true,—
A heart that, firm as some embattled tower,
Itself for her, her in itself reveres, For her rejoices in its lasting power,
Conscious alone, when she herself appears; Feels itself freer in so sweet a thrall, And only beats to give her thanks in all.
The power of loving, and all yearning sighs
For love responsive were effaced and drown'd; While longing hope for joyous enterprise
Was form'd, and rapid action straightway found; If love can e'er a loving one inspire, Most lovingly it gave me now its fire;
And 'twas through her!—an inward sorrow lay
On soul and body, heavily oppress'd; To mournful phantoms was my sight a prey,
In the drear void of a sad tortured breast; Now on the well-known threshold Hope hath smil'd, Herself appeareth in the sunlight mild.
Unto the peace of God, which, as we read,
Blesseth us more than reason e'er bath done, Love's happy peace would I compare indeed,
When in the presence of the dearest one. There rests the heart, and there that sweetest thought, The thought of being hers, is check'd by nought.
In the pure bosom doth a yearning float,
Unto a holier, purer, unknown Being Its grateful aspiration to devote,
The Ever-Nameless then unriddled seeing; We call it: piety!—such blest delight I feel a share in, when before her sight.
Before her sight, as 'neath the sun's hot ray,
Before her breath, as 'neath the spring's soft wind, In its deep wintry cavern melts away
Self-love, so long in icy chains confin'd; No selfishness and no self-will are nigh, For at her advent they were forced to fly.
It seems as though she said: "As hours pass by
They spread before us life with kindly plan; Small knowledge did the yesterday supply,
To know the morrow is conceal'd from man; And if the thought of evening made me start, The sun at setting gladden'd straight my heart.
"Act, then, as I, and look, with joyous mind,
The moment in the face; nor linger thou! Meet it with speed, so fraught with life, so kind
In action, and in love so radiant now; Let all things be where thou art, childlike ever, Thus thoult be all, thus, thou'lt be vanquish'd never."
Thou speakest well, methought, for as thy guide
The moment's favour did a god assign, And each one feels himself when by thy side,
Fate's fav'rite in a moment so divine; I tremble at thy look that bids me go, Why should I care such wisdom vast to know?
Now am I far! And what would best befit
The present minute? I could scarcely tell; Full many a rich possession offers it,
These but offend, and I would fain repel. Yearnings unquenchable still drive me on, All counsel, save unbounded tears, is gone.
Flow on, flow on in never-ceasing course,
Yet may ye never quench my inward fire! Within my bosom heaves a mighty force,
Where death and life contend in combat dire. Medicines may serve the body's pangs to still; Nought but the spirit fails in strength of will,—
Fails in conception; wherefore fails it so?
A thousand times her image it portrays; Enchanting now, and now compell'd to go,
Now indistinct, now clothed in purest rays! How could the smallest comfort here be flowing? The ebb and flood, the coming and the going!
* * * * * *
Leave me here now, my life's companions true!
Leave me alone on rock, in moor and heath; But courage! open lies the world to you,
The glorious heavens above, the earth beneath; Observe, investigate, with searching eyes, And nature will disclose her mysteries.
To me is all, I to myself am lost,
Who the immortals' fav'rite erst was thought; They, tempting, sent Pandoras to my cost,
So rich in wealth, with danger far more fraught; They urged me to those lips, with rapture crown'd, Deserted me, and hurl'd me to the ground.
[Composed, when 74 years old, for a Polish lady, who excelled in playing on the pianoforte.]
PASSION brings reason—who can pacify
An anguish'd heart whose loss hath been so great? Where are the hours that fled so swiftly by?
In vain the fairest thou didst gain from fate; Sad is the soul, confused the enterprise;
The glorious world, how on the sense it dies!
In million tones entwined for evermore,
Music with angel-pinions hovers there, To pierce man's being to its inmost core,
Eternal beauty has its fruit to bear; The eye grows moist, in yearnings blest reveres The godlike worth of music as of tears.
And so the lighten'd heart soon learns to see
That it still lives, and beats, and ought to beat, Off'ring itself with joy and willingly,
In grateful payment for a gift so sweet. And then was felt,—oh may it constant prove!— The twofold bliss of music and of love.
THE remembrance of the Good Keep us ever glad in mood.
The remembrance of the Fair Makes a mortal rapture share.
The remembrance of one's Love Blest Is, if it constant prove.
The remembrance of the One Is the greatest joy that's known.
1828. ——- [Written at the age of 77.]
WHEN I was still a youthful wight,
So full of enjoyment and merry, The painters used to assert, in spite,
That my features were small—yes, very; Yet then full many a beauteous child With true affection upon me smil'd.
Now as a greybeard I sit here in state,
By street and by lane held in awe, sirs; And may be seen, like old Frederick the Great,
On pipebowls, on cups, and on saucers. Yet the beauteous maidens, they keep afar; Oh vision of youth! Oh golden star!
1826. ——- FOR EVER.
THE happiness that man, whilst prison'd here,
Is wont with heavenly rapture to compare,— The harmony of Truth, from wavering clear,—
Of Friendship that is free from doubting care,— The light which in stray thoughts alone can cheer
The wise,—the bard alone in visions fair,— In my best hours I found in her all this, And made mine own, to mine exceeding bliss.
1820.* ——- FROM AN ALBUM OF 1604.
HOPE provides wings to thought, and love to hope. Rise up to Cynthia, love, when night is clearest, And say, that as on high her figure changeth, So, upon earth, my joy decays and grows. And whisper in her ear with modest softness, How doubt oft hung its head, and truth oft wept. And oh ye thoughts, distrustfully inclined, If ye are therefore by the loved one chided, Answer: 'tis true ye change, but alter not, As she remains the same, yet changeth ever. Doubt may invade the heart, but poisons not, For love is sweeter, by suspicion flavour'd. If it with anger overcasts the eye, And heaven's bright purity perversely blackens, Then zephyr-sighs straight scare the clouds away, And, changed to tears, dissolve them into rain. Thought, hope, and love remain there as before, Till Cynthia gleams upon me as of old.
1820.* ——- LINES ON SEEING SCHILLER'S SKULL.
[This curious imitation of the ternary metre of Dante was written at the age of 77.]
WITHIN a gloomy charnel-house one day
I view'd the countless skulls, so strangely mated, And of old times I thought, that now were grey.
Close pack'd they stand, that once so fiercely hated, And hardy bones, that to the death contended,
Are lying cross'd,—to lie for ever, fated. What held those crooked shoulder-blades suspended?
No one now asks; and limbs with vigour fired, The hand, the foot—their use in life is ended.
Vainly ye sought the tomb for rest when tired; Peace in the grave may not be yours; ye're driven
Back into daylight by a force inspired; But none can love the wither'd husk, though even
A glorious noble kernel it contained. To me, an adept, was the writing given
Which not to all its holy sense explained, When 'mid the crowd, their icy shadows flinging,
I saw a form, that glorious still remained. And even there, where mould and damp were clinging,
Gave me a blest, a rapture-fraught emotion, As though from death a living fount were springing.
What mystic joy I felt! What rapt devotion! That form, how pregnant with a godlike trace!
A look, how did it whirl me tow'rd that ocean Whose rolling billows mightier shapes embrace!
Mysterious vessel! Oracle how dear! Even to grasp thee is my hand too base,
Except to steal thee from thy prison here With pious purpose, and devoutly go
Back to the air, free thoughts, and sunlight clear. What greater gain in life can man e'er know
Than when God-Nature will to him explain How into Spirit steadfastness may flow,
How steadfast, too, the Spirit-Born remain.
1826. ——- ROYAL PRAYER.
HA, I am the lord of earth! The noble,
Who're in my service, love me. Ha, I am the lord of earth! The noble,
O'er whom my sway extendeth, love I. Oh, grant me, God in Heaven, that I may ne'er
Dispense with loftiness and love!
1815.* ——- HUMAN FEELINGS.
AH, ye gods! ye great immortals In the spacious heavens above us! Would ye on this earth but give us Steadfast minds and dauntless courage We, oh kindly ones, would leave you All your spacious heavens above us!
1815.* ——- ON THE DIVAN.
HE who knows himself and others
Here will also see, That the East and West, like brothers,
Parted ne'er shall be.
Thoughtfully to float for ever
'Tween two worlds, be man's endeavour! So between the East and West
To revolve, be my behest!
1833.* ——- EXPLANATION OF AN ANCIENT WOODCUT, REPRESENTING HANS SACHS' POETICAL MISSION.
[I feel considerable hesitation in venturing to offer this version of a poem which Carlyle describes to be 'a beautiful piece (a very Hans Sacks beatified, both in character and style), which we wish there was any possibility of translating.' The reader will be aware that Hans Sachs was the celebrated Minstrel- Cobbler of Nuremberg, who Wrote 208 plays, 1700 comic tales, and between 4000 and 5000 lyric poems. He flourished throughout almost the whole of the 16th century.]
EARLY within his workshop here, On Sundays stands our master dear; His dirty apron he puts away, And wears a cleanly doublet to-day; Lets wax'd thread, hammer, and pincers rest, And lays his awl within his chest; The seventh day he takes repose From many pulls and many blows.
Soon as the spring-sun meets his view, Repose begets him labour anew; He feels that he holds within his brain A little world, that broods there amain, And that begins to act and to live, Which he to others would gladly give.
He had a skilful eye and true, And was full kind and loving too. For contemplation, clear and pure,— For making all his own again, sure; He had a tongue that charm'd when 'twas heard, And graceful and light flow'd ev'ry word; Which made the Muses in him rejoice, The Master-singer of their choice.
And now a maiden enter'd there, With swelling breast, and body fair; With footing firm she took her place, And moved with stately, noble grace; She did not walk in wanton mood, Nor look around with glances lewd.
She held a measure in her hand, Her girdle was a golden band, A wreath of corn was on her head, Her eye the day's bright lustre shed; Her name is honest Industry, Else, Justice, Magnanimity.
She enter'd with a kindly greeting; He felt no wonder at the meeting, For, kind and fair as she might be, He long had known her, fancied he.
"I have selected thee," she said, "From all who earth's wild mazes tread, That thou shouldst have clear-sighted sense, And nought that's wrong shouldst e'er commence. When others run in strange confusion, Thy gaze shall see through each illusion When others dolefully complain, Thy cause with jesting thou shalt gain, Honour and right shalt value duly, In everything act simply, truly,— Virtue and godliness proclaim, And call all evil by its name, Nought soften down, attempt no quibble, Nought polish up, nought vainly scribble. The world shall stand before thee, then, As seen by Albert Durer's ken, In manliness and changeless life, In inward strength, with firmness rife. Fair Nature's Genius by the hand Shall lead thee on through every land, Teach thee each different life to scan, Show thee the wondrous ways of man, His shifts, confusions, thrustings, and drubbings, Pushings, tearings, pressings, and rubbings; The varying madness of the crew, The anthill's ravings bring to view; But thou shalt see all this express'd, As though 'twere in a magic chest. Write these things down for folks on earth, In hopes they may to wit give birth."— Then she a window open'd wide, And show'd a motley crowd outside, All kinds of beings 'neath the sky, As in his writings one may spy.
Our master dear was, after this, On Nature thinking, full of bliss, When tow'rd him, from the other side He saw an aged woman glide; The name she bears, Historia, Mythologia, Fabula; With footstep tottering and unstable She dragg'd a large and wooden carved-table, Where, with wide sleeves and human mien, The Lord was catechizing seen; Adam, Eve, Eden, the Serpent's seduction, Gomorrah and Sodom's awful destruction, The twelve illustrious women, too, That mirror of honour brought to view; All kinds of bloodthirstiness, murder, and sin, The twelve wicked tyrants also were in, And all kinds of goodly doctrine and law; Saint Peter with his scourge you saw, With the world's ways dissatisfied, And by our Lord with power supplied. Her train and dress, behind and before, And e'en the seams, were painted o'er With tales of worldly virtue and crime.— Our master view'd all this for a time; The sight right gladly he survey'd, So useful for him in his trade, Whence he was able to procure Example good and precept sure, Recounting all with truthful care, As though he had been present there. His spirit seem'd from earth to fly, He ne'er had turned away his eye, Did he not just behind him hear A rattle of bells approaching near. And now a fool doth catch his eye, With goat and ape's leap drawing nigh A merry interlude preparing With fooleries and jests unsparing. Behind him, in a line drawn out, He dragg'd all fools, the lean and stout, The great and little, the empty and full, All too witty, and all too dull, A lash he flourish'd overhead, As though a dance of apes he led, Abusing them with bitterness, As though his wrath would ne'er grow less.
While on this sight our master gazed, His head was growing well-nigh crazed: What words for all could he e'er find, Could such a medley be combined? Could he continue with delight For evermore to sing and write? When lo, from out a cloud's dark bed In at the upper window sped The Muse, in all her majesty, As fair as our loved maids we see. With clearness she around him threw Her truth, that ever stronger grew.
"I, to ordain thee come," she spake: "So prosper, and my blessing take! The holy fire that slumb'ring lies Within thee, in bright flames shall rise; Yet that thine ever-restless life May still with kindly strength be rife, I, for thine inward spirit's calm. Have granted nourishment and balm, That rapture may thy soul imbue, Like some fair blossom bathed in dew."— Behind his house then secretly Outside the doorway pointed she, Where, in a shady garden-nook, A beauteous maid with downcast look Was sitting where a stream was flowing, With elder bushes near it growing, She sat beneath an apple tree, And nought around her seem'd to see. Her lap was full of roses fair, Which in a wreath she twined with care. And, with them, leaves and blossoms blended: For whom was that sweet wreath intended? Thus sat she, modest and retired, Her bosom throbb'd, with hope inspired; Such deep forebodings fill'd her mind, No room for wishing could she find, And with the thoughts that o'er it flew, Perchance a sigh was mingled too.
"But why should sorrow cloud thy brow? That, dearest love, which fills thee now Is fraught with joy and ecstasy. Prepared in one alone for thee, That he within thine eye may find Solace when fortune proves unkind, And be newborn through many a kiss, That he receives with inward bliss; When'er he clasps thee to his breast. May he from all his toils find rest When he in thy dear arms shall sink, May he new life and vigour drink: Fresh joys of youth shalt thou obtain, In merry jest rejoice again. With raillery and roguish spite, Thou now shalt tease him, now delight. Thus Love will nevermore grow old, Thus will the minstrel ne'er be cold!"
While he thus lives, in secret bless'd, Above him in the clouds doth rest An oak-wreath, verdant and sublime, Placed on his brow in after-time; While they are banish'd to the slough, Who their great master disavow.
——- Lovingly I'll sing of love; Ever comes she from above. ——- THE FRIENDLY MEETING.
IN spreading mantle to my chin conceald,
I trod the rocky path, so steep and grey,
Then to the wintry plain I bent my way Uneasily, to flight my bosom steel'd.
But sudden was the newborn day reveal'd:
A maiden came, in heavenly bright array,
Like the fair creatures of the poet's lay In realms of song. My yearning heart was heal'd.
Yet turn'd I thence, till she had onward pass'd,
While closer still the folds to draw I tried,
As though with heat self-kindled to grow warm;
But follow'd her. She stood. The die was cast!
No more within my mantle could I hide;
I threw it off,—she lay within mine arm.
1807-8. ——- IN A WORD.
THUS to be chain'd for ever, can I bear?
A very torment that, in truth, would be.
This very day my new resolve shall see.— I'll not go near the lately-worshipp'd Fair.
Yet what excuse, my heart, can I prepare
In such a case, for not consulting thee?
But courage! while our sorrows utter we In tones where love, grief, gladness have a share.
But see! the minstrel's bidding to obey,
Its melody pours forth the sounding lyre,
Yearning a sacrifice of love to bring.
Scarce wouldst thou think it—ready is the lay;
Well, but what then? Methought in the first fire
We to her presence flew, that lay to sing.
18078. ——- THE MAIDEN SPEAKS.
How grave thou loookest, loved one! wherefore so?
Thy marble image seems a type of thee;
Like it, no sign of life thou giv'st to me; Compared with thee, the stone appears to glow.
Behind his shield in ambush lurks the foe,
The friend's brow all-unruffled we should see.
I seek thee, but thou seek'st away to flee; Fix'd as this sculptured figure, learn to grow!
Tell me, to which should I the preference pay?
Must I from both with coldness meet alone?
The one is lifeless, thou with life art blest.
In short, no longer to throw words away,
I'll fondy kiss and kiss and kiss this stone,
Till thou dost tear me hence with envious breast.
1807. ——- GROWTH.
O'ER field and plain, in childhood's artless days,
Thou sprang'st with me, on many a spring-morn fair.
"For such a daughter, with what pleasing care, Would I, as father, happy dwellings raise!"
And when thou on the world didst cast thy gaze,
Thy joy was then in household toils to share.
"Why did I trust her, why she trust me e'er? For such a sister, how I Heaven should praise!"
Nothing can now the beauteous growth retard;
Love's glowing flame within my breast is fann'd.
Shall I embrace her form, my grief to end?
Thee as a queen must I, alas, regard:
So high above me placed thou seem'st to stand;
Before a passing look I meekly bend.
18078. ——- FOOD IN TRAVEL.
IF to her eyes' bright lustre I were blind,
No longer would they serve my life to gild.
The will of destiny must be fulfilid,— This knowing, I withdrew with sadden'd mind.
No further happiness I now could find:
The former longings of my heart were still'd;
I sought her looks alone, whereon to build My joy in life,—all else was left behind.
Wine's genial glow, the festal banquet gay,
Ease, sleep, and friends, all wonted pleasures glad
I spurn'd, till little there remain'd to prove.
Now calmly through the world I wend my way:
That which I crave may everywhere be had,
With me I bring the one thing needful—love.
18078. ——- DEPARTURE.
WITH many a thousand kiss not yet content,
At length with One kiss I was forced to go;
After that bitter parting's depth of woe, I deem'd the shore from which my steps I bent,
Its hills, streams, dwellings, mountains, as I went,
A pledge of joy, till daylight ceased to glow;
Then on my sight did blissful visions grow In the dim-lighted, distant firmament,
And when at length the sea confined my gaze,
My ardent longing fill'd my heart once more;
What I had lost, unwillingly I sought.
Then Heaven appear'd to shed its kindly rays:
Methought that all I had possess'd of yore
Remain'd still mine—that I was reft of nought.
18078. ——- THE LOVING ONE WRITES.
THE look that thy sweet eyes on mine impress
The pledge thy lips to mine convey,—the kiss,—
He who, like me, hath knowledge sure of this, Can he in aught beside find happiness?
Removed from thee, friend-sever'd, in distress,
These thoughts I vainly struggle to dismiss:
They still return to that one hour of bliss, The only one; then tears my grief confess.
But unawares the tear makes haste to dry:
He loves, methinks, e'en to these glades so still,—
And shalt not thou to distant lands extend?
Receive the murmurs of his loving sigh;
My only joy on earth is in thy will,
Thy kindly will tow'rd me; a token send!
18078. ——- THE LOVING ONE ONCE MORE.
WHY do I o'er my paper once more bend?
Ask not too closely, dearest one, I pray
For, to speak truth, I've nothing now to say; Yet to thy hands at length 'twill come, dear friend.
Since I can come not with it, what I send
My undivided heart shall now convey,
With all its joys, hopes, pleasures, pains, to-day: All this hath no beginning, hath no end.
Henceforward I may ne'er to thee confide
How, far as thought, wish, fancy, will, can reach,
My faithful heart with thine is surely blended.
Thus stood I once enraptured by thy side,
Gazed on thee, and said nought. What need of speech?
My very being in itself was ended.
18078. ——- SHE CANNOT END.
WHEN unto thee I sent the page all white,
Instead of first thereon inscribing aught,
The space thou doubtless filledst up in sport. And sent it me, to make my joy grow bright.
As soon as the blue cover met my sight,
As well becomes a woman, quick as thought
I tore it open, leaving hidden nought, And read the well-known words of pure delight:
MY ONLY BEING! DEAREST HEART! SWEET CHILD!
How kindly thou my yearning then didst still
With gentle words, enthralling me to thee.
In truth methought I read thy whispers mild
Wherewith thou lovingly my soul didst fill,
E'en to myself for aye ennobling me.
18078. ——- NEMESIS.
WHEN through the nations stalks contagion wild,
We from them cautiously should steal away.
E'en I have oft with ling'ring and delay Shunn'd many an influence, not to be defil'd.
And e'en though Amor oft my hours beguil'd,
At length with him preferr'd I not to play,
And so, too, with the wretched sons of clay, When four and three-lined verses they compil'd.
But punishment pursues the scoffer straight,
As if by serpent-torch of furies led
From bill to vale, from land to sea to fly.
I hear the genie's laughter at my fate;
Yet do I find all power of thinking fled
In sonnet-rage and love's fierce ecstasy.
1807-8. ——- THE CHRISTMAS-BOX.
THIS box, mine own sweet darling, thou wilt find
With many a varied sweetmeat's form supplied;
The fruits are they of holy Christmas tide, But baked indeed, for children's use design'd.
I'd fain, in speeches sweet with skill combin'd,
Poetic sweetmeats for the feast provide;
But why in such frivolities confide? Perish the thought, with flattery to blind!
One sweet thing there is still, that from within,
Within us speaks,—that may be felt afar;
This may be wafted o'er to thee alone.
If thou a recollection fond canst win,
As if with pleasure gleam'd each well-known star,
The smallest gift thou never wilt disown.
1807. ——- THE WARNING.
WHEN sounds the trumpet at the Judgment Day,
And when forever all things earthly die,
We must a full and true account supply Of ev'ry useless word we dropp'd in play.
But what effect will all the words convey
Wherein with eager zeal and lovingly,
That I might win thy favour, labour'd I, If on thine ear alone they die away?
Therefore, sweet love, thy conscience bear in mind,
Remember well how long thou hast delay'd,
So that the world such sufferings may not know.
If I must reckon, and excuses find
For all things useless I to thee have said,
To a full year the Judgment Day will grow
18078. ——- THE EPOCHS.
ON Petrarch's heart, all other days before,
In flaming letters written, was impress d
GOOD FRIDAY. And on mine, be it confess'd, Is this year's ADVENT, as it passeth o'er.
I do not now begin,—I still adore
Her whom I early cherish'd in my breast;,
Then once again with prudence dispossess'd, And to whose heart I'm driven back once more.
The love of Petrarch, that all-glorious love,
Was unrequited, and, alas, full sad;
One long Good Friday 'twas, one heartache drear
But may my mistress' Advent ever prove,
With its palm-jubilee, so sweet and glad,
One endless Mayday, through the livelong year!
1807. ——- THE DOUBTERS AND THE LOVERS.
YE love, and sonnets write! Fate's strange behest!
The heart, its hidden meaning to declare,
Must seek for rhymes, uniting pair with pair: Learn, children, that the will is weak, at best.
Scarcely with freedom the o'erflowing breast
As yet can speak, and well may it beware;
Tempestuous passions sweep each chord that's there, Then once more sink to night and gentle rest.
Why vex yourselves and us, the heavy stone
Up the steep path but step by step to roll?
It falls again, and ye ne'er cease to strive.
But we are on the proper road alone!
If gladly is to thaw the frozen soul,
The fire of love must aye be kept alive.
18078. ——- CHARADE.
Two words there 'are, both short, of beauty rare,
Whose sounds our lips so often love to frame,
But which with clearness never can proclaim The things whose own peculiar stamp they bear.