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The Poems of Goethe

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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.

[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!


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.


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.


[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.


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!


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!


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!


[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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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


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!



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.


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.

'Tis well in days of age and youth so fair,

One on the other boldly to inflame;

And if those words together link'd we name,
A blissful rapture we discover there.

But now to give them pleasure do I seek,

And in myself my happiness would find;

I hope in silence, but I hope for this:

Gently, as loved one's names, those words to speak

To see them both within one image shrin'd,

Both in one being to embrace with bliss.



In these numbers be express'd
Meaning deep, 'neath merry jest.


A FELLOW says: "I own no school or college;
No master lives whom I acknowledge;
And pray don't entertain the thought
That from the dead I e'er learnt aught."
This, if I rightly understand,
Means: "I'm a blockhead at first hand."


No! in truth there's here no lack:
White the bread, the maidens black!
To another town, next night:
Black the bread, the maidens white!


THUS roll I, never taking ease,
My tub, like Saint Diogenes,
Now serious am, now seek to please;
Now love and hate in turn one sees;
The motives now are those, now these;
Now nothings, now realities.
Thus roll I, never taking ease,
My tub, like Saint Diogenes.


IF thou to be a slave shouldst will,
Thou'lt get no pity, but fare ill;
And if a master thou wouldst be,
The world will view it angrily;
And if in statu quo thou stay,
That thou art but a fool, they'll say.


THOUGH tempers are bad and peevish folks swear,
Remember to ruffle thy brows, friend, ne'er;
And let not the fancies of women so fair
E'er serve thy pleasure in life to impair.


WHEN head and heart are busy, say,

What better can be found?
Who neither loves nor goes astray,

Were better under ground.


MODEST men must needs endure,

And the bold must humbly bow;
Thus thy fate's the same, be sure,

Whether bold or modest thou.


IF thou wouldst live unruffled by care,
Let not the past torment thee e'er;
As little as possible be thou annoy'd,
And let the present be ever enjoy'd;
Ne'er let thy breast with hate be supplied,
And to God the future confide.


IF thou wouldst live unruffled by care,
Let not the past torment thee e'er;
If any loss thou hast to rue,
Act as though thou wert born anew;
Inquire the meaning of each day,
What each day means itself will say;
In thine own actions take thy pleasure,
What others do, thou'lt duly treasure;
Ne'er let thy breast with hate be supplied,
And to God the future confide.


IF wealth is gone--then something is gone!

Quick, make up thy mind,

And fresh wealth find.
If honour is gone--then much is gone!

Seek glory to find,

And people then will alter their mind.
If courage is gone--then all is gone!
'Twere better that thou hadst never been born.


HE who with life makes sport,

Can prosper never;
Who rules himself in nought,

Is a slave ever.

MAY each honest effort be

Crown'd with lasting constancy.


EACH road to the proper end
Runs straight on, without a bend.


SILENCE deep rules o'er the waters,

Calmly slumb'ring lies the main,
While the sailor views with trouble

Nought but one vast level plain.

Not a zephyr is in motion!

Silence fearful as the grave!
In the mighty waste of ocean

Sunk to rest is ev'ry wave.


THE mist is fast clearing.
And radiant is heaven,
Whilst AEolus loosens
Our anguish-fraught bond.
The zephyrs are sighing,
Alert is the sailor.
Quick! nimbly be plying!
The billows are riven,
The distance approaches;
I see land beyond!


CARELESSLY over the plain away,
Where by the boldest man no path
Cut before thee thou canst discern,
Make for thyself a path!

Silence, loved one, my heart!
Cracking, let it not break!
Breaking, break not with thee!


I FEEL that I'm possess'd of nought,
Saving the free unfetterd thought

Which from my bosom seeks to flow,
And each propitious passing hour
That suffers me in all its power

A loving fate with truth to know.


WHEREFORE ever ramble on?

For the Good is lying near,
Fortune learn to seize alone,

For that Fortune's ever here.


OLD age is courteous--no one more:
For time after time he knocks at the door,
But nobody says, "Walk in, sir, pray!"
Yet turns he not from the door away,
But lifts the latch, and enters with speed.
And then they cry "A cool one, indeed!"


As a boy, reserved and naughty;
As a youth, a coxcomb and haughty;
As a man, for action inclined;
As a greybeard, fickle in mind.--
Upon thy grave will people read:
This was a very man, indeed!


IF men are never their thoughts to employ,
Take care to provide them a life full of joy;
But if to some profit and use thou wouldst bend them,
Take care to shear them, and then defend them.


WEEP ye not, ye children dear,

That as yet ye are unborn:
For each sorrow and each tear

Makes the father's heart to mourn.

Patient be a short time to it,

Unproduced, and known to none;
If your father cannot do it,

By your mother 'twill be done.


MANY good works I've done and ended,
Ye take the praise--I'm not offended;
For in the world, I've always thought
Each thing its true position hath sought.
When praised for foolish deeds am I,
I set off laughing heartily;
When blamed for doing something good,
I take it in an easy mood.
If some one stronger gives me hard blows,
That it's a jest, I feign to suppose:
But if 'tis one that's but my own like,
I know the way such folks to strike.
When Fortune smiles, I merry grow,
And sing in dulci jubilo;
When sinks her wheel, and tumbles me o'er,
I think 'tis sure to rise once more.

In the sunshine of summer I ne'er lament,
Because the winter it cannot prevent;
And when the white snow-flakes fall around,
I don my skates, and am off with a bound.
Though I dissemble as I will,
The sun for me will ne'er stand still;
The old and wonted course is run,
Until the whole of life is done;
Each day the servant like the lord,
In turns comes home, and goes abroad;
If proud or humble the line they take,
They all must eat, drink, sleep, and wake.
So nothing ever vexes me;
Act like the fool, and wise ye'll be!



Joy from that in type we borrow,
Which in life gives only sorrow.

A DRAGON-FLY with beauteous wing
Is hov'ring o'er a silv'ry spring;
I watch its motions with delight,--
Now dark its colours seem, now bright;
Chameleon-like appear, now blue,
Now red, and now of greenish hue.
Would it would come still nearer me,
That I its tints might better see

It hovers, flutters, resting ne'er!

But hush! it settles on the mead.
I have it safe now, I declare!

And when its form I closely view,

'Tis of a sad and dingy blue--
Such, Joy-Dissector, is thy case indeed


A YOUNG fig-tree its form lifts high

Within a beauteous garden;
And see, a goat is sitting by.

As if he were its warden.

But oh, Quirites, how one errs!

The tree is guarded badly;
For round the other side there whirrs

And hums a beetle madly.

The hero with his well-mail'd coat

Nibbles the branches tall so;
A mighty longing feels the goat

Gently to climb up also.

And so, my friends, ere long ye see

The tree all leafless standing;
It looks a type of misery,

Help of the gods demanding.

Then listen, ye ingenuous youth,

Who hold wise saws respected:
From he-goat and from beetles-tooth

A tree should be protected!


WHILE he is mark'd by vision clear

Who fathoms Nature's treasures,
The man may follow, void of fear,

Who her proportions measures.

Though for one mortal, it is true,

These trades may both be fitted,
Yet, that the things themselves are two

Must always be admitted.

Once on a time there lived a cook

Whose skill was past disputing,
Who in his head a fancy took

To try his luck at shooting.

So, gun in hand, he sought a spot

Where stores of game were breeding,
And there ere long a cat he shot

That on young birds was feeding.

This cat he fancied was a hare,

Forming a judgment hasty,
So served it up for people's fare,

Well-spiced and in a pasty.

Yet many a guest with wrath was fill'd

(All who had noses tender):
The cat that's by the sportsman kill'd

No cook a hare can render.


THERE lived in the desert a holy man

To whom a goat-footed Faun one day
Paid a visit, and thus began

To his surprise: "I entreat thee to pray
That grace to me and my friends may be given,
That we may be able to mount to Heaven,
For great is our thirst for heav'nly bliss."
The holy man made answer to this:
"Much danger is lurking in thy petition,
Nor will it be easy to gain admission;
Thou dost not come with an angel's salute;
For I see thou wearest a cloven foot."
The wild man paused, and then answer'd he:
"What doth my goat's foot matter to thee?
Full many I've known into heaven to pass
Straight and with ease, with the head of an ass!"


OVER the meadows, and down the stream,

And through the garden-walks straying,
He plucks the flowers that fairest seem;

His throbbing heart brooks no delaying.
His maiden then comes--oh, what ecstasy!
Thy flowers thou giv'st for one glance of her eye!

The gard'ner next door o'er the hedge sees the youth:
"I'm not such a fool as that, in good truth;
My pleasure is ever to cherish each flower,
And see that no birds my fruit e'er devour.
But when 'tis ripe, your money, good neighbour!
'Twas not for nothing I took all this labour!"
And such, methinks, are the author-tribe.

The one his pleasures around him strews,

That his friends, the public, may reap, if they choose;
The other would fain make them all subscribe,


I HAD a fellow as my guest,
Not knowing he was such a pest,
And gave him just my usual fare;
He ate his fill of what was there,

And for desert my best things swallow'd,
Soon as his meal was o'er, what follow'd?
Led by the Deuce, to a neighbour he went,
And talk'd of my food to his heart's content:
"The soup might surely have had more spice,
The meat was ill-brown'd, and the wine wasn't nice."
A thousand curses alight on his head!
'Tis a critic, I vow! Let the dog be struck dead!


A BOY a pigeon once possess'd,
In gay and brilliant plumage dress'd;
He loved it well, and in boyish sport
Its food to take from his mouth he taught,
And in his pigeon he took such pride,
That his joy to others he needs must confide.

An aged fox near the place chanc'd to dwell,
Talkative, clever, and learned as well;
The boy his society used to prize,
Hearing with pleasure his wonders and lies.

"My friend the fox my pigeon must see
He ran, and stretch'd 'mongst the bushes lay he
"Look, fox, at my pigeon, my pigeon so fair!
His equal I'm sure thou hast look'd upon ne'er!"

"Let's see!"--The boy gave it.--"'Tis really not bad;
And yet, it is far from complete, I must add.
The feathers, for, instance, how short! 'Tis absurd!"
So he set to work straightway to pluck the poor bird.

The boy screamed.--"Thou must now stronger pinions supply,
Or else 'twill be ugly, unable to fly."--
Soon 'twas stripp'd--oh, the villain!--and torn all to pieces.
The boy was heart-broken,--and so my tale ceases.

* * * *

He who sees in the boy shadow'd forth his own case,
Should be on his guard 'gainst the fox's whole race.


ONE day a shameless and impudent wight
Went into a shop full of steel wares bright,
Arranged with art upon ev'ry shelf.
He fancied they were all meant for himself;
And so, while the patient owner stood by,
The shining goods needs must handle and try,
And valued,--for how should a fool better know?--
The bad things high, and the good ones low,
And all with an easy self-satisfied face;
Then, having bought nothing, he left the place.

The tradesman now felt sorely vex'd,
So when the fellow went there next,
A lock of steel made quite red hot.
The other cried upon the spot:
"Such wares as these, who'd ever buy?
the steel is tarnish'd shamefully,"--
Then pull'd it, like a fool about,
But soon set up a piteous shout.
"Pray what's the matter?" the shopman spoke;
The other scream'd: "Faith, a very cool joke!"


OUR rides in all directions bend,

For business or for pleasure,
Yet yelpings on our steps attend,

And barkings without measure.
The dog that in our stable dwells,

After our heels is striding,
And all the while his noisy yells

But show that we are riding.


THE stork who worms and frogs devours

That in our ponds reside,
Why should he dwell on high church-towers,

With which he's not allied?

Incessantly he chatters there,

And gives our ears no rest;
But neither old nor young can dare

To drive him from his nest.

I humbly ask it,--how can he

Give of his title proof,
Save by his happy tendency

To soil the church's roof?

[A satire on his own Sorrows of Werther.]

ON bridges small and bridges great
Stands Nepomucks in ev'ry state,
Of bronze, wood, painted, or of stone,
Some small as dolls, some giants grown;
Each passer must worship before Nepomuck,
Who to die on a bridge chanced to have the ill luck,
When once a man with head and ears
A saint in people's eyes appears,
Or has been sentenced piteously
Beneath the hangman's hand to die,
He's as a noted person prized,
In portrait is immortalized.
Engravings, woodcuts, are supplied,
And through the world spread far and wide.
Upon them all is seen his name,
And ev'ry one admits his claim;
Even the image of the Lord
Is not with greater zeal ador'd.
Strange fancy of the human race!
Half sinner frail, half child of grace
We see HERR WERTHER of the story
In all the pomp of woodcut glory.
His worth is first made duly known,
By having his sad features shown
At ev'ry fair the country round;
In ev'ry alehouse too they're found.
His stick is pointed by each dunce
"The ball would reach his brain at once!"
And each says, o'er his beer and bread:
"Thank Heav'n that 'tis not we are dead!"


WITHIN a town where parity
According to old form we see,--
That is to say, where Catholic
And Protestant no quarrels pick,
And where, as in his father's day,
Each worships God in his own way,
We Luth'ran children used to dwell,
By songs and sermons taught as well.
The Catholic clingclang in truth
Sounded more pleasing to our youth,
For all that we encounter'd there,
To us seem'd varied, joyous, fair.
As children, monkeys, and mankind
To ape each other are inclin'd,
We soon, the time to while away,
A game at priests resolved to play.
Their aprons all our sisters lent
For copes, which gave us great content;
And handkerchiefs, embroider'd o'er,
Instead of stoles we also wore;
Gold paper, whereon beasts were traced,
The bishop's brow as mitre graced.

Through house and garden thus in state
We strutted early, strutted late,
Repeating with all proper unction,
Incessantly each holy function.
The best was wanting to the game;

We knew that a sonorous ring

Was here a most important thing;
But Fortune to our rescue came,
For on the ground a halter lay;

We were delighted, and at once

Made it a bellrope for the nonce,
And kept it moving all the day;

In turns each sister and each brother

Acted as sexton to another;
All help'd to swell the joyous throng;

The whole proceeded swimmingly,

And since no actual bell had we,
We all in chorus sang, Ding dong!

* * * * *

Our guileless child's-sport long was hush'd

In memory's tomb, like some old lay;
And yet across my mind it rush'd

With pristine force the other day.
The New-Poetic Catholics
In ev'ry point its aptness fix!


SONGS are like painted window-panes!
In darkness wrapp'd the church remains,
If from the market-place we view it;
Thus sees the ignoramus through it.
No wonder that he deems it tame,--
And all his life 'twill be the same.

But let us now inside repair,
And greet the holy Chapel there!
At once the whole seems clear and bright,
Each ornament is bathed in light,
And fraught with meaning to the sight.
God's children! thus your fortune prize,
Be edified, and feast your eyes!


GOD to his untaught children sent

Law, order, knowledge, art, from high,
And ev'ry heav'nly favour lent,

The world's hard lot to qualify.
They knew not how they should behave,

For all from Heav'n stark-naked came;
But Poetry their garments gave,

And then not one had cause for shame.


I PICKED a rustic nosegay lately,
And bore it homewards, musing greatly;
When, heated by my hand, I found
The heads all drooping tow'rd the ground.
I plac'd them in a well-cool'd glass,
And what a wonder came to pass
The heads soon raised themselves once more.
The stalks were blooming as before,
And all were in as good a case
As when they left their native place.

* * * *

So felt I, when I wond'ring heard
My song to foreign tongues transferr'd.


SHOULD e'er the loveless day remain
Obscured by storms of hail and rain,

Thy charms thou showest never;
I tap at window, tap at door:
Come, lov'd one, come! appear once more!

Thou art as fair as ever!


A PLAN the Muses entertain'd

Methodically to impart

To Psyche the poetic art;
Prosaic-pure her soul remain'd.
No wondrous sounds escaped her lyre

E'en in the fairest Summer night;
But Amor came with glance of fire,--

The lesson soon was learn'd aright.


WITH eagerness he drinks the treach'rous potion,

Nor stops to rest, by the first taste misled;
Sweet is the draught, but soon all power of motion

He finds has from his tender members fled;
No longer has he strength to plume his wing,
No longer strength to raise his head, poor thing!
E'en in enjoyment's hour his life he loses,
His little foot to bear his weight refuses;
So on he sips, and ere his draught is o'er,
Death veils his thousand eyes for evermore.


WHEN by the broad stream thou dost dwell,

Oft shallow is its sluggish flood;
Then, when thy fields thou tendest well,

It o'er them spreads its slime and mud.

The ships descend ere daylight wanes,

The prudent fisher upward goes;
Round reef and rock ice casts its chains,

And boys at will the pathway close.

To this attend, then, carefully,

And what thou wouldst, that execute!
Ne'er linger, ne'er o'erhasty be,

For time moves on with measured foot.


ONCE two persons uninvited

Came to join my dinner table;
For the nonce they lived united,

Fox and crane yclept in fable.

Civil greetings pass'd between us

Then I pluck'd some pigeons tender
For the fox of jackal-genius,

Adding grapes in full-grown splendour.

Long-neck'd flasks I put as dishes

For the crane, without delaying,
Fill'd with gold and silver fishes,

In the limpid water playing.

Had ye witness'd Reynard planted

At his flat plate, all demurely,
Ye with envy must have granted:

"Ne'er was such a gourmand, surely!"

While the bird with circumspection

On one foot, as usual, cradled,
From the flasks his fish-refection

With his bill and long neck ladled.

One the pigeons praised,--the other,

As they went, extoll'd the fishes,
Each one scoffing at his brother

For preferring vulgar dishes.

* * *

If thou wouldst preserve thy credit,

When thou askest folks to guzzle
At thy hoard, take care to spread it

Suited both for bill and muzzle.


HARD 'tis on a fox's traces

To arrive, midst forest-glades;
Hopeless utterly the chase is,

If his flight the huntsman aids.

And so 'tis with many a wonder,

(Why A B make Ab in fact,)
Over which we gape and blunder,

And our head and brains distract.


A POOL was once congeal'd with frost;
The frogs, in its deep waters lost,

No longer dared to croak or spring;
But promised, being half asleep,
If suffer'd to the air to creep,

As very nightingales to sing.

A thaw dissolved the ice so strong,--
They proudly steer'd themselves along,
When landed, squatted on the shore,
And croak'd as loudly as before.


A FEAST was in a village spread,--
It was a wedding-day, they said.
The parlour of the inn I found,
And saw the couples whirling round,
Each lass attended by her lad,
And all seem'd loving, blithe, and glad;
But on my asking for the bride,
A fellow with a stare, replied:
"'Tis not the place that point to raise!

We're only dancing in her honour;
We now have danced three nights and days,

And not bestowed one thought upon her."

* * * *

Whoe'er in life employs his eyes
Such cases oft will recognise.


To the grave one day from a house they bore

A maiden;
To the window the citizens went to explore;
In splendour they lived, and with wealth as of yore

Their banquets were laden.
Then thought they: "The maid to the tomb is now borne;
We too from our dwellings ere long must be torn,
And he that is left our departure to mourn,

To our riches will be the successor,

For some one must be their possessor.


IF Venus in the evening sky
Is seen in radiant majesty,
If rod-like comets, red as blood,
Are 'mongst the constellations view'd,
Out springs the Ignoramus, yelling:
"The star's exactly o'er my dwelling!
What woeful prospect, ah, for me!
Then calls his neighbour mournfully:
"Behold that awful sign of evil,
Portending woe to me, poor devil!
My mother's asthma ne'er will leave her,
My child is sick with wind and fever;
I dread the illness of my wife,
A week has pass'd, devoid of strife,--
And other things have reach'd my ear;
The Judgment Day has come, I fear!"

His neighbour answered: "Friend, you're right!
Matters look very had to-night.
Let's go a street or two, though, hence,
And gaze upon the stars from thence."--
No change appears in either case.
Let each remain then in his place,
And wisely do the best he can,
Patient as any other man.


To an apple-woman's stall

Once some children nimbly ran;
Longing much to purchase all,
They with joyous haste began
Snatching up the piles there raised,
While with eager eyes they gazed
On the rosy fruit so nice;
But when they found out the price,
Down they threw the whole they'd got,
Just as if they were red hot.

* * * * *

The man who gratis will his goods supply
Will never find a lack of folks to buy!


"THE mountain village was destroy'd;
But see how soon is fill'd the void!
Shingles and boards, as by magic arise,
The babe in his cradle and swaddling-clothes lies;
How blest to trust to God's protection!"

Behold a wooden new erection,
So that, if sparks and wind but choose,
God's self at such a game must lose!


PALM Sunday at the Vatican

They celebrate with palms;
With reverence bows each holy man,

And chaunts the ancient psalms.
Those very psalms are also sung

With olive boughs in hand,
While holly, mountain wilds among,

In place of palms must stand:
In fine, one seeks some twig that's green,

And takes a willow rod,
So that the pious man may e'en

In small things praise his God.

And if ye have observed it well,

To gain what's fit ye're able,
If ye in faith can but excel;

Such are the myths of fable.



"Incense is hut a tribute for the gods,--
To mortals 'tis but poison."

THE smoke that from thine altar blows,

Can it the gods offend?
For I observe thou hold'st thy nose--

Pray what does this portend?
Mankind deem incense to excel

Each other earthly thing,
So he that cannot bear its smell,

No incense e'er should bring.

With unmoved face by thee at least

To dolls is homage given;
If not obstructed by the priest,

The scent mounts up to heaven.




SIR Wit, who is so much esteem'd,

And who is worthy of all honour,
Saw Beauty his superior deem'd

By folks who loved to gaze upon her;
At this he was most sorely vex'd.

Then came Sir Breath (long known as fit

To represent the cause of wit),

Beginning, rudely, I admit,
To treat the lady with a text.
To this she hearken'd not at all,
But hasten'd to his principal:
"None are so wise, they say, as you,--
Is not the world enough for two?

If you are obstinate, good-bye!
If wise, to love me you will try,
For be assured the world can ne'er
Give birth to a more handsome pair."



FAIR daughters were by Beauty rear'd,

Wit had but dull sons for his lot;
So for a season it appear'd

Beauty was constant, Wit was not.
But Wit's a native of the soil,

So he return'd, work'd, strove amain,
And found--sweet guerdon for his toil!--

Beauty to quicken him again.

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