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The Poems of Goethe

Part 11 out of 11

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Where on the verdant plain

Dancers we see,
Spreading themselves amain

Over the lea.
Some boldly climbing are

O'er the steep brake,
Others are floating far

O'er the smooth lake.
All for a purpose move,

All with life teem,
While the sweet stars above

Blissfully gleam.


MY heart is sad,

My peace is o'er;
I find it never

And nevermore.

When gone is he,
The grave I see;
The world's wide all
Is turned to gall.

Alas, my head

Is well-nigh crazed;
My feeble mind

Is sore amazed.

My heart is sad,

My peace is o'er;
I find it never

And nevermore.

For him from the window

Alone I spy;
For him alone

From home go I.

His lofty step,

His noble form,
His mouth's sweet smile,

His glances warm,

His voice so fraught

With magic bliss,
His hand's soft pressure,

And, ah, his kiss!

My heart is sad,

My peace is o'er;
I find it never

And nevermore.

My bosom yearns

For his form so fair;
Ah, could I clasp him

And hold him there!

My kisses sweet

Should stop his breath,
And 'neath his kisses

I'd sink in death!


Margaret. Faust.


DOST thou believe in God?


Doth mortal live

Who dares to say that he believes in God?
Go, bid the priest a truthful answer give,

Go, ask the wisest who on earth e'er trod,--
Their answer will appear to be
Given alone in mockery.


Then thou dost not believe? This sayest thou?


Sweet love, mistake not what I utter now!
Who knows His name?
Who dares proclaim:--
Him I believe?
Who so can feel
His heart to steel
To sari believe Him not?
The All-Embracer,
The All-Sustained,
Holds and sustains He not
Thee, me, Himself?

Hang not the heavens their arch overhead?
Lies not the earth beneath us, firm?
Gleam not with kindly glances
Eternal stars on high?
Looks not mine eye deep into thine?
And do not all things
Crowd on thy head and heart,
And round thee twine, in mystery eterne,
Invisible, yet visible?
Fill, then, thy heart, however vast, with this,
And when the feeling perfecteth thy bliss,
O, call it what thou wilt,
Call it joy! heart! love! God!
No name for it I know!
'Tis feeling all--nought else;
Name is but sound and smoke,
Obscuring heaven's bright glow.

MARGARET, Placing fresh flowers in the flower-pots.

O THOU well-tried in grief,

Grant to thy child relief,
And view with mercy this unhappy one!

The sword within thy heart,

Speechless with bitter smart,
Thou Lookest up towards thy dying son.

Thou look'st to God on high,

And breathest many a sigh
O'er his and thy distress, thou holy One!

Who e'er can know

The depth of woe

Piercing my very bone?
The sorrows that my bosom fill,
Its trembling, its aye-yearning will,

Are known to thee, to thee alone!

Wherever I may go,

With woe, with woe, with woe,
My bosom sad is aching!

I scarce alone can creep,

I weep, I weep, I weep,
My very heart is breaking.

The flowers at my window

My falling tears bedewed,
When I, at dawn of morning,

For thee these flow'rets strewed.

When early to my chamber

The cheerful sunbeams stole,
I sat upon my pallet,

In agony of soul.

Help! rescue me from death and misery!

Oh, thou well-tried in grief,

Grant to thy child relief,
And view with mercy my deep agony!




WHEN in spring the gentle rain

Breathes into the flower new birth,
When the green and happy plain

Smiles upon the sons of earth,
Haste to give what help we may,

Little elves of wondrous might!
Whether good or evil they,

Pity for them feels the sprite.


WHEN the moist and balmy gale

Round the verdant meadow sighs,
Odors sweet in misty veil

At the twilight-hour arise.
Murmurings soft of calm repose

Rock the heart to child-like rest,
And the day's bright portals close

On the eyes with toil oppress'd.

Night already reigns o'er all,

Strangely star is link'd to star;
Planets mighty, sparkling small,

Glitter near and gleam afar.
Gleam above in clearer night,

Glitter in the glassy sea;
Pledging pure and calm delight,

Rules the moon in majesty.

Now each well-known hour is over,

Joy and grief have pass'd away;
Feel betimes! thoult then recover:

Trust the newborn eye of day.
Vales grow verdant, hillocks teem,

Shady nooks the bushes yield,
And with waving, silvery gleam,

Rocks the harvest in the field.

Wouldst thou wish for wish obtain,

Look upon yon glittering ray!
Lightly on thee lies the chain,

Cast the shell of sleep away!
Tarry not, but be thou bold,

When the many loiter still;
All with ease may be controll'd

By the man of daring will.


HARK! the storm of hours draws near,
Loudly to the spirit-ear
Signs of coming day appear.
Rocky gates are wildly crashing,
Phoebus' wheels are onward dashing;

(A wonderful noise proclaims the approach of the sun.)

Light doth mighty sounds beget!
Pealing loud as rolling thunder,
Eye and ear it fills with wonder,

Though itself unconscious yet.
Downward steals it,'mongst the flowers
Seeking deeper, stiller bowers,
'Mongst the foliage, 'neath the rock;
Thou'lt be deafened by the shock!


[Hovering in the higher regions of air, and hearing the immortal
part of Faust.]

THE spirit-region's noble limb

Hath 'scaled the Archfiend's power;
For we have strength to rescue him

Who labours ev'ry hour.
And if he feels within his breast

A ray of love from heaven.
He's met by all the squadron blest

With welcome gladly given.


Yonder roses, from the holy
Hands of penitents so lowly,
Help'd to render us victorious,
And to do the deed all-glorious;
For they gain'd us this soul-treasure.

Evil ones those roses banish'd,

Devils, when we met them, vanish'd.
Spirits felt love's pangs with pleasure,
Where hell's torments used to dwell;
E'en the hoary king of hell
Felt sharp torments through him run.
Shout for joy! the prize is won.


Strains of mortality

Long have oppress'd us;
Pure could they ever be,

If of asbestos.
If mighty spirit-strength

Elements ever
Knew how to seize at length,

Angels could never
Link'd twofold natures move,

Where single-hearted;
By nought but deathless love

Can they be parted.


See where a spirit-race

Bursts on the sight!
Dimly their forms I trace

Round the far height.
Each cloud becometh clear,
While the bright troops appear

Of the blest boys,

From the Earth's burden free,
In a glad company

Drinking in joys,
Born of the world above,

Springtime and bliss.
May they forerunners prove
Of a more perfect love,

Link'd on to this!


Thus as a chrysalis

Gladly we gain him,
And as a pledge of bliss

Safely retain him;
When from the shell he's free

Whereby he's tainted,
Perfect and fair he'll be,

Holy and sainted.

(In the highest, purest cell.)

Wide is the prospect here,

Raised is the soul;
Women on high appear,

Seeking their goal.

'Mongat them the radiant one,

Queen of the skies,
In her bright starry crown

Greets my glad eyes.

(With ecstasy.)

Thou who art of earth the queen.

Let me, 'neath the blue
Heav'nly canopy serene

Thy sweet mystery view!
Grant the gentle solemn force

Which the breast can move.
And direct our onward course

Tow'rd thy perfect love.
Dauntless let our courage be,

At thy bright behest;
Mild our ardour suddenly,

When thou bidd'st us rest.
Virgin, type of holiness,

Mother, honour-crown'd,
Thou whom we as queen confess,

Godlike and renowned.

Round her, in gentle play,

Light clouds are stealing;
Penitents fair are they,

Who, humbly kneeling,
Sip in the ether sweet,
As they for grace entreat.

Thou, who art from passions free,

Kindly art inclin'd,
When the sons of frailty

Seek thee, meek in mind.

Borne by weakness' stream along,

Hard it is to save them;
Who can burst lust's chains so strong,

That, alas, enslave them?
O how soon the foot may slip,

When the smooth ground pressing!
O, how false are eye and lip,

False a breath caressing!

MATER GLORLOSA hovers past.


To bring realms on high

In majesty soaring,
O, hark to our cry

Thy pity imploring,
Thou help to the cheerless,
In glory so peerless!

MAGNA PECCATRIX (St. Luke vii. 36).

By the love, which o'er the feet

Of thy God-transfigur'd Son
Dropp'd the team, like balsam sweet,

Spite of ev'ry scornful one;
By the box of ointment rare,

Whence the drops so fragrant fell;
By the locks, whose gentle care

Dried His holy members well--

muller SAMARITANA (St, John iv.).

By the well where Abram erst

Drove his flocks to drink their fill;
By the bucket which the thirst

Of the Saviour served to still;
By the fountain, balm-exhaling,

That from yon bright region flows,
Ever clear and never failing.

As round ev'ry world it goes--

MARIA AEGYPTIACA (Acta Sanctorum).

By the sacred spot immortal,

Where the Lord's remains they plac'd;
By the arm, that from the portal

Drove me back with warning haste;
By my forty years of lowly

Penance in a desert land;
By the farewell greetings holy

That I wrote upon the sand--


Thou who ne'er thy radiant face

From the greatest sinners hides,
Thou who Thine atoning grace

Through eternity provident,

Let this soul, by virtue stirr'd,

Self-forgetful though when living,
That perceived not that it err'd,

Feel thy mercy, sin forgiving!

(Once named Margaret, pressing near them.)

Oh radiance-spreading One,

Who equall'd art by none,
In mercy view mine ecstasy!

For he whom erst I loved,

No more by sorrow proved,
Returns at length to me!

(Approaching as they hover round.)

He now in strength of limb

Far doth outweigh us,
And, as we tended him,

So will repay us.
Early removed were we

Far from life's story;
Train'd now himself, will he

Train us in glory.

THE PENITENT, once named Margaret.

Link'd with the noble band of spirits,

Scarce can the new one feel or see
The radiant life he now inherits,

So like that holy band is he.
See how he bursts each bond material,

And parts the olden veil at length,--
In vesture clad of grace ethereal,

Comes in the glow of youthful strength.
Oh, let me guide his steps victorious,

While dazzled by the new-born light.


Come! raise thyself to spheres more glorious,
He'll follow when thou matzoth his sight.

(Prostrated in adoration.)

O repentant sinful ones,

On that bright face gaze ye,
And, in grateful orisons,

Your blest fortune praise ye!
Be each virtue of the mind

To thy service given!
Virgin, mother, be thou kind!

Goddess, queen of heaven!


Each thing of mortal birth

Is but a type
What was of feeble worth

Here becomes ripe.
What was a mystery

Here meets the eye;
The ever-womanly

Draws us on high.




YE children of mortals
The deities dread!
The mastery hold they
In hands all-eternal,
And use them, unquestioned,
What manner they like.

Let him fear them doubly,
Whom they have uplifted!
On cliffs and on clouds, oh,
Round tables all-golden,
he seats are made ready.

When rises contention,
The guests are humid downwards
With shame and dishonor
To deep depths of midnight,
And vainly await they,
Bound fast in the darkness,
A just condemnation.

But they remain ever
In firmness unshaken
Round tables all-golden.
On stride they from mountain
To mountain far distant:
From out the abysses'
Dark jaws, the breath rises
Of torment-choked Titans
Up tow'rds them, like incense
In light clouds ascending.

The rulers immortal
Avert from whole peoples
Their blessing-fraught glances,
And shun, in the children,
To trace the once cherish'd,
Still, eloquent features
Their ancestors wore.

Thus chanted the Parae;
The old man, the banish'd,
In gloomy vault lying,
Their song overheareth,
Sons, grandsons remembereth,
And shaketh his head.


LIEBETRAUT plays and sings.

HIS bow and dart bearing,
And torch brightly flaring,

Dan Cupid on flies;
With victory laden,
To vanquish each maiden

He roguishly tries.

Up! up!

On! on!
His arms rattle loudly,
His wings rustle proudly,
And flames fill his eyes.

Then finds he each bosom

Defenseless and bare;
They gladly receive him

And welcome him there.
The point of his arrows

He lights in the glow;
They clasp him and kiss him

And fondle him so.
He e o! Pap!



CLARA winds a skein, and sings with Brackenburg.

THE drum gives the signal!

Loud rings the shrill fife!
My love leads his troops on

Full arm'd for the strife,
While his hand grasps his lance
As they proudly advance.

My bosom pants wildly!
My blood hotly flows!
Oh had I a doublet,
A helmet, and hose!

Through the gate with bold footstep

I after him hied,--
Each province, each country

Explored by his side.
The coward foe trembled
Then rattled our shot:
What bliss e'er resembled

A soldier's glad lot!


CLARA sings.


And sadness
And pensiveness blending


And burning
In torment ne'er ending;

Sad unto death,
Proudly soaring above;

Happy alone
Is the soul that doth love!



WHO never eat with tears his bread,

Who never through night's heavy hours
Sat weeping on his lonely bed,--

He knows you not, ye heavenly powers!

Through you the paths of life we gain,

Ye let poor mortals go astray,
And then abandon them to pain,--

E'en here the penalty we pay,
WHO gives himself to solitude,

Soon lonely will remain;
Each lives, each loves in joyous mood,

And leaves him to his pain.

Yes! leave me to my grief!
Were solitude's relief

E'er granted me,

Alone I should not be.

A lover steals, on footstep light,

To learn if his love's alone;
Thus o'er me steals, by day and night,

Anguish before unknown,
Thus o'er me steals deep grief.
Ah, when I find relief

Within the tomb so lonely,

Will rest be met with only!

My grief no mortals know,

Except the yearning!
Alone, a prey to woe,

All pleasure spurning,
Up tow'rds the sky I throw

A gaze discerning.

He who my love can know

Seems ne'er returning;
With strange and fiery glow

My heart is burning.
My grief no mortals know,

Except the yearning!

SING no more in mournful tones

Of the loneliness of night;
For 'tis made, ye beauteous ones,

For all social pleasures bright.

As of old to man a wife

As his better half was given,
So the night is half our life,

And the fairest under heaven.

How can ye enjoy the day,

Which obstructs our rapture's tide?
Let it waste itself away;

Worthless 'tis for aught beside.

But when in the darkling hours

From the lamp soft rays are glowing,
And from mouth to mouth sweet showers,

Now of jest, now love, are flowing,--

When the nimble, wanton boy,

Who so wildly spends his days,
Oft amid light sports with joy

O'er some trifling gift delays,

When the nightingale is singing

Strains the lover holds so dear,
Though like sighs and wailings ringing

In the mournful captive's ear,--

With what heart-emotion blest

Do ye hearken to the bell,
Wont of safety and of rest

With twelve solemn strokes to tell!

Therefore in each heavy hour,

Let this precept fill your heart:
O'er each day will sorrow loud,

Rapture ev'ry night impart.

[This fine piece, written originally in 1805, on Schiller's
death, was altered and recast by Goethe in 1815, on the occasion
of the performance on the stage of the Song of the Bell. Hence
the allusion in the last verse.]

To this city joy reveal it!

Peace as its first signal peal it!

(Song of the Bell--concluding lines.)

AND so it proved! The nation felt, ere long,

That peaceful signal, and, with blessings fraught,
A new-born joy appear'd; in gladsome song

To hail the youthful princely pair we sought;
While in a living, ever-swelling throng

Mingled the crowds from ev'ry region brought,
And on the stage, in festal pomp array'd
The HOMAGE OF THE ARTS * we saw displayed.

(* The title of a lyric piece composed by Schiller in honour of
the marriage of the hereditary Prince of Weimar to the Princess
Maria of Russia, and performed in 1804.)

When, lo! a fearful midnight sound I hear,

That with a dull and mournful echo rings.
And can it be that of our friend so dear

It tells, to whom each wish so fondly clings?
Shall death overcome a life that all revere?

How such a loss to all confusion brings!
How such a parting we must ever rue!
The world is weeping,--shall not we weep too?

He was our own! How social, yet how great

Seem'd in the light of day his noble mind!
How was his nature, pleasing yet sedate,

Now for glad converse joyously incline,
Then swiftly changing, spirit-fraught, elate,

Life's plan with deep-felt meaning it design'd,
Fruitful alike in counsel and in deed!
This have we proved, this tasted, in our need.

He was our own! O may that thought so blest

Overcome the voice of wailing and of woe
He might have sought the Lasting, safe at rest

In harbour, when the tempest ceased to blow.
Meanwhile his mighty spirit onward press'd

Where goodness, beauty, truth, for ever grow;
And in his rear, in shadowy outline, lay
The vulgar, which we all, alas, obey!

Now doth he deck the garden-turret fair

Where the stars' language first illuded his soul,
As secretly yet clearly through the air

On the eterne, the living sense it stole;
And to his own, and our great profit, there

Exchangeth he the seasons as they roll;
Thus nobly doth he vanquish, with renown,
The twilight and the night that weigh us down.

Brighter now glow'd his cheek, and still more bright.

With that unchanging, ever-youthful glow,--
That courage which overcomes, in hard-fought fight,

Sooner or later, ev'ry earthly foe--
That faith which, soaring to the realms of light,

Now boldly Presseth on, now bendeth low,
So that the good may work, wax, thrive amain,
So that the day the noble may attain.

Yet, though so skill'd, of such transcendent worth,

This boarded scaffold doth he not despise;
The fate that on its axis turns the earth

From day to night, here shows he to our eyes,
Raising, through many a work of glorious birth,

Art and the artist's fame up tow'rd the skies.
He fills with blossoms of the noblest strife,
With life itself, this effigy of life.

His giant-step, as ye full surely knew,

Measured the circle of the will and deed,
Each country's changing thoughts and morals too,

The darksome book with clearness could he read;
Yet how he, breathless 'midst his friends so true,

Despaired in sorrow, scarce from pain was freed,--
All this have we, in sadly happy years,
For he was ours, bewailed with feeling tears.

When from the agonizing weight of grief

He raised his eyes upon the world again,
We show'd him how his thoughts might find relief

From the uncertain present's heavy chain,
Gave his fresh-kindled mind a respite brief,

With kindly skill beguiling ev'ry pain,
And e'en at eve, when setting was his sun,
From his wan cheeks a gentle smile we won.

Full early had he read the stern decree,

Sorrow and death to him, alas, were known;
Ofttimes recovering, now departed he,--

Dread tidings, that our hearts had fear'd to own!
Yet his transfigured being now can see

Itself, e'en here on earth, transfigured grown.
What his own age reproved, and deem'd a crime,
Hath been ennobled now by death and time.

And many a soul that with him strove in fight,

And his great merit grudged to recognise,
Now feels the impress of his wondrous might,

And in his magic fetters gladly lies;
E'en to the highest bath he winged his flight,

In close communion link'd with all we prize.
Extol him then! What mortals while they live
But half receive, posterity shall give.

Thus is he left us, who so long ago,--

Ten years, alas, already!--turn'd from earth;
We all, to our great joy, his precepts know,

Oh may the world confess their priceless worth!
In swelling tide tow'rd every region flow

The thoughts that were his own peculiar birth;
He gleams like some departing meteor bright,
Combining, with his own, eternal light.


Now, gentle reader, is our journey ended,

Mute is our minstrel, silent is our song;
Sweet the bard's voice whose strains our course attended,

Pleasant the paths he guided us along.
Now must we part,--Oh word all full of sadness,
Changing to pensive retrospect our gladness!

Reader, farewell! we part perchance for ever,

Scarce may I hope to meet with thee again;
But e'en though fate our fellowship may sever,

Reader, will aught to mark that tie remain?
Yes! there is left one sad sweet bond of union,--
Sorrow at parting links us in communion.

But of the twain, the greater is my sorrow,--

Reader, and why?--Bethink thee of the sun,
How, when he sets, he waiteth for the morrow,

Proudly once more his giant-race to run,--
Yet, e'en when set, a glow behind him leaving,
Gladdening the spirit, which had else been grieving.

Thus mayst thou feel, for thou to GOETHE only

Baldest farewell, nor camest aught for me.
Twofold my parting, leaving me all lonely,--

I now must part from GOETHE and from thee,
Parting at once from comrade and from leader,--
Farewell, great minstrel! farewell, gentle reader!

Hush'd is the harp, its music sunk in slumbers,
Memory alone can waken now its numbers.

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