Part 6 out of 11
Wind blends together
Spirit of man,
Thou art like unto water!
Fortune of man,
Thou art like unto wind!
SAY, which Immortal
Merits the highest reward?
With none contend I,
But I will give it
To the aye-changing,
Wondrous daughter of Jove.
His best-beloved offspring.
For unto her
Hath he granted
All the fancies which erst
To none allow'd he
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,
Like morn and even.
Like moonbeam's light,
To mortals appear.
Let us all, then,
Adore the Father!
The old, the mighty,
Who such a beauteous
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
Bow'd by the heavy
Yoke of Necessity.
But unto us he
Hath his most versatile,
Most cherished daughter
Lovingly greet her
As a beloved one!
Give her the woman's
Place in our home!
And oh, may the aged
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,
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
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
Which foreboding nations
Crown'd with spirit-dances.
Thou stand'st with breast inscrutable,
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.
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
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.
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,
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
Thourt the Genius,
Genius of ages,
Thou'rt what inward glow
To Pindar was,
What to the world
Woe! Woe Inward warmth,
Glow, and vie with
His regal look
Over thee will swiftly glide,--
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,
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,
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,
Not in the poplar grove,
Near the Sybaris' strand,
Not on the mountain's
Didst thou seize him,
When the wheels were rattling,
Wheel on wheel tow'rd the goal,
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,--
But enough glow
Thither to wend,
Where is my cot!
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,
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,
THE EAGLE AND DOVE.
IN search of prey once raised his pinions
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!"
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,
And votive prayers,
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,
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,
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.
Within thine arms
Embraced and embracing!
Upwards into thy bosom,
Oh Father all-loving!
THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMANITY.
WHEN the primeval
Sows with a tranquil hand
From clouds, as they roll,
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
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
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
NOBLE be man,
Helpful and good!
For that alone
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!
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--
Curly head seizing,--
Seizing the hoary
Head of the sinner.
After laws mighty,
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.
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 nurturedÄlove 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,
As they sing, and wake the lyre,
Tendencies of noblest worth,
To each type of strength give birth.
Phantasies of sweetest power
Round about on ev'ry bough,
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
Takes she that which man can ne'er
Duly merit,--each soft feeling,--
Disregards the noontide ray
And the dew at close of day,Ä
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;
In their gaze
Makes their hair
And the troop,
With fell swoop,
Ply their blows
Void of shame,
All the frame.
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
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!
(* Aganippe--A spring in Boeotia, which arose out of Mount
Helicon, and was sacred to Apollo and the Muses.)
[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.
'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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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