The Poems of Goethe

The Poems of Goethe Translated in the original metres by Edgar Alfred Bowring THE TRANSLATOR’S ORIGINAL DEDICATION. TO THE COUNTESS GRANVILLE. MY DEAR LADY GRANVILLE,– THE reluctance which must naturally be felt by any one in venturing to give to the world a book such as the present, where the beauties of the great original
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The Poems of Goethe

Translated in the original metres
by Edgar Alfred Bowring




THE reluctance which must naturally be felt by any one in venturing to give to the world a book such as the present, where the beauties of the great original must inevitably be diminished, if not destroyed, in the process of passing through the translator’s hands, cannot but be felt in all its force when that translator has not penetrated beyond the outer courts of the poetic fane, and can have no hope of advancing further, or of reaching its sanctuary. But it is to me a subject of peculiar satisfaction that your kind permission to have your name inscribed upon this page serves to attain a twofold end–one direct and personal, and relating to the present day; the other reflected and historical, and belonging to times long gone by. Of the first little need now be said, for the privilege is wholly mine, in making this dedication: as to the second, one word of explanation will suffice for those who have made the greatest poet of Germany, almost of the world, their study, and to whom the story of his life is not unknown. All who have followed the career of GOETHE are familiar with the name and character of DALBERG, and also with the deep and lasting friendship that existed between them, from which SCHILLER too was not absent; recalling to the mind the days of old, when a Virgil and a Horace and a Maecenas sat side by side.

Remembering, then, the connection that, in a former century, was formed and riveted between your illustrious ancestor and him whom it is the object of these pages to represent, I deem it a happy augury that the link then established finds itself not wholly severed even now (although its strength may be immeasurably weakened in the comparison), inasmuch as this page brings them once more in contact, the one in the person of his own descendant, the other in that of the translator of his Poems.

Believe me, with great truth,
Very faithfully yours,
London, April, 1853.


I feel no small reluctance in venturing to give to the public a work of the character of that indicated by the title-page to the present volume; for, difficult as it must always be to render satisfactorily into one’s own tongue the writings of the bards of other lands, the responsibility assumed by the translator is immeasurably increased when he attempts to transfer the thoughts of those great men, who have lived for all the world and for all ages, from the language in which they were originally clothed, to one to which they may as yet have been strangers. Preeminently is this the case with Goethe, the most masterly of all the master minds of modern times, whose name is already inscribed on the tablets of immortality, and whose fame already extends over the earth, although as yet only in its infancy. Scarcely have two decades passed away since he ceased to dwell among men, yet he now stands before us, not as a mere individual, like those whom the world is wont to call great, but as a type, as an emblem–the recognised emblem and representative of the human mind in its present stage of culture and advancement.

Among the infinitely varied effusions of Goethe’s pen, perhaps there are none which are of as general interest as his Poems, which breathe the very spirit of Nature, and embody the real music of the feelings. In Germany, they are universally known, and are considered as the most delightful of his works. Yet in this country, this kindred country, sprung from the same stem, and so strongly resembling her sister in so many points, they are nearly unknown. Almost the only poetical work of the greatest Poet that the world has seen for ages, that is really and generally read in England, is Faust, the translations of which are almost endless; while no single person has as yet appeared to attempt to give, in an English dress, in any collective or systematic manner, those smaller productions of the genius of Goethe which it is the object of the present volume to lay before the reader, whose indulgence is requested for its many imperfections. In addition to the beauty of the language in which the Poet has given utterance to his thoughts, there is a depth of meaning in those thoughts which is not easily discoverable at first sight, and the translator incurs great risk of overlooking it, and of giving a prosaic effect to that which in the original contains the very essence of poetry. It is probably this difficulty that has deterred others from undertaking the task I have set myself, and in which I do not pretend to do more than attempt to give an idea of the minstrelsy of one so unrivalled, by as truthful an interpretation of it as lies in my power.

The principles which have guided me on the present occasion are the same as those followed in the translation of Schiller’s complete Poems that was published by me in 1851, namely, as literal a rendering of the original as is consistent with good English, and also a very strict adherence to the metre of the original. Although translators usually allow themselves great license in both these points, it appears to me that by so doing they of necessity destroy the very soul of the work they profess to translate. In fact, it is not a translation, but a paraphrase that they give. It may perhaps be thought that the present translations go almost to the other extreme, and that a rendering of metre, line for line, and word for word, makes it impossible to preserve the poetry of the original both in substance and in sound. But experience has convinced me that it is not so, and that great fidelity is even the most essential element of success, whether in translating poetry or prose. It was therefore very satisfactory to me to find that the principle laid down by me to myself in translating Schiller met with the very general, if not universal, approval of the reader. At the same time, I have endeavoured to profit in the case of this, the younger born of the two attempts made by me to transplant the muse of Germany to the shores of Britain, by the criticisms, whether friendly or hostile, that have been evoked or provoked by the appearance of its elder brother.

As already mentioned, the latter contained the whole of the Poems of Schiller. It is impossible, in anything like the same compass, to give all the writings of Goethe comprised under the general title of Gedichte, or poems. They contain between 30,000 and 40,000 verses, exclusive of his plays. and similar works. Very many of these would be absolutely without interest to the English reader,–such as those having only a local application, those addressed to individuals, and so on. Others again, from their extreme length, could only be published in separate volumes. But the impossibility of giving all need form no obstacle to giving as much as possible; and it so happens that the real interest of Goethe’s Poems centres in those classes of them which are not too diffuse to run any risk when translated of offending the reader by their too great number. Those by far the more generally admired are the Songs and Ballads, which are about 150 in number, and the whole of which are contained in this volume (with the exception of one or two of the former, which have been, on consideration, left out by me owing to their trifling and uninteresting nature). The same may be said of the Odes, Sonnets, Miscellaneous Poems, &c.

In addition to those portions of Goethe’s poetical works which are given in this complete form, specimens of the different other classes of them, such as the Epigrams, Elegies, &c., are added, as well as a collection of the various Songs found in his Plays, making a total number of about 400 Poems, embraced in the present volume.

A sketch of the life of Goethe is prefixed, in order that the reader may have before him both the Poet himself and the Poet’s offspring, and that he may see that the two are but one–that Goethe lives in his works, that his works lived in him.

The dates of the different Poems are appended throughout, that of the first publication being given, when that of the composition is unknown. The order of arrangement adopted is that of the authorized German editions. As Goethe would never arrange them himself in the chronological order of their composition, it has become impossible to do so, now that he is dead. The plan adopted in the present volume would therefore seem to be the best, as it facilitates reference to the original. The circumstances attending or giving rise to the production of any of the Poems will be found specified in those cases in which they have been ascertained by me.

Having said thus much by way of explanation, I now leave the book to speak for itself, and to testify to its own character. Whether viewed with a charitable eye by the kindly reader, who will make due allowance for the difficulties attending its execution, or received by the critic, who will judge of it only by its own merits, with the unfriendly welcome which it very probably deserves, I trust that I shall at least be pardoned for making an attempt, a failure in which does not necessarily imply disgrace, and which, by leading the way, may perhaps become the means of inducing some abler and more worthy (but not more earnest) labourer to enter upon the same field, the riches of which will remain unaltered and undiminished in value, even although they may be for the moment tarnished by the hands of the less skilful workman who first endeavours to transplant them to a foreign soil.


I have taken advantage of the publication of a Second Edition of my translation of the Poems of Goethe (originally published in 1853), to add to the Collection a version of the much admired classical Poem of Hermann and Dorothea, which was previously omitted by me in consequence of its length. Its universal popularity, however, and the fact that it exhibits the versatility of Goethe’s talents to a greater extent than, perhaps, any other of his poetical works, seem to call for its admission into the present volume.

On the other hand I have not thought it necessary to include the sketch of Goethe’s Life that accompanied the First Edition. At the time of its publication, comparatively little was known in this country of the incidents of his career, and my sketch was avowedly written as a temporary stop-gap, as it were, pending the production of some work really deserving the tittle of a life of Goethe. Not to mention other contributions to the literature of the subject, Mr. Lewis’s important volumes give the English reader all the information he is likely to require respecting Goethe’s career, and my short memoir appeared to be no longer required.

I need scarcely add that I have availed myself of this opportunity to make whatever improvements have suggested themselves to me in my original version of these Poems.

E. A. B.
London, 1874.


Original Dedication
Original Preface
Preface to the Second Edition
List of the principal Works of Goethe Author’s Dedication

Sound, sweet Song, from some far Land To the kind Reader
The New Amadis
When the Fox dies, his Skin counts
The Heathrose
Blindman’s Buff
The Coy One
The Convert
The Muses’ Son
Like and Like
Reciprocal Invitation to the Dance
Declaration of War
Lover in all Shapes
The Goldsmith’s Apprentice
Answers in a Game of Questions
Different Emotions on the same Spot Who’ll buy Gods of love?
The Misanthrope
Different Threats
Maiden Wishes
True Enjoyment
The Farewell
The Beautiful Night.
Happiness and Vision
Living Remembrance
The Bliss of Absence
To Luna
The Wedding Night
Mischievous Joy
Apparent Death
November Song
To the Chosen One
First Loss
After Sensations
Proximity of the Beloved One
To the Distant One
By the River
The Exchange
Welcome and Farewell
New Love, New Life
To Belinda
May Song
With a painted Ribbon
With a golden Necklace
On the Lake
From the Mountain
In Summer
May Song
Premature Spring
Autumn Feelings
Restless Love
The Shepherd’s Lament
Comfort in Tears
Night Song
To Mignon
The Mountain Castle
The Spirit’s Salute
To a Golden Heart that he wore round his neck The Bliss of Sorrow
The Wanderer’s Night-song
The Same
The Hunter’s Even-Song
To the Moon
To Lina
Ever and Everywhere
To his Coy One
Night Thoughts
To Lida
Rollicking Hans
The Freebooter
Joy and Sorrow
Next Year’s Spring
At Midnight Hour
To the rising full Moon
The Bridegroom
Such, such is he who pleaseth me
Sicilian Song
Swiss Song
Finnish Song
Gipsy Song
The Destruction of Magdeburg

On the New Year
Anniversary Song
The Spring Oracle
The Happy Couple
Song of Fellowship
Constancy in Change
Table Song
Wont and Done
General Confession
Coptic Song
Vanitas! vanitatum vanitas!
Fortune of War
Open Table
The Reckoning
Ergo Bibamus!

The Minstrel
Ballad of the banished and returning Count The Violet
The Faithless Boy
The Erl-King
Johanna Sebus
The Fisherman
The King of Thule
The Beauteous Flower..
Sir Curt’s Wedding Journey
Wedding Song
The Treasure-digger
The Rat-catcher
The Spinner
Before a Court of Justice
The Page and the Miller’s Daughter
The Youth and the Millstream
The Maid of the Mill’s Treachery
The Maid of the Mill’s Repentance
The Traveller and the Farm-Maiden
Effects at a distance
The Walking Bell
Faithful Eckart
The Dance of Death
The Pupil in Magic
The Bride of Corinth
The God and the Bayadere

The Pariah

I. The Pariah’s Prayer.
II. Legend
III. The Pariah’s Thanks
Death–lament of the noble Wife of Asan Aga

The First Walpurgis-Night

Three Odes to my Friend
Mahomet’s Song
Spirit Song over the Waters
My Goddess
Winter Journey over the Hartz Mountains To Father Kronos. Written in a Post-chaise The Wanderer’s Storm Song
The Sea-Voyage
The Eagle and Dove
The Boundaries of Humanity
The Godlike

The German Parnassus.
Lily’s Menagerie
To Charlotte
Love’s Distresses
The Musagetes
Morning Lament
The Visit
The Magic Net
The Goblet
To the Grasshopper. After Anacreon
From the Sorrows of Young Werther
Trilogy of Passion :Ä

I. To Werther

II. Elegy
III. Atonement
The Remembrance of the Good
When I was still a youthful Wight
For Ever
From an Album of 1604
Lines on seeing Schiller’s Skull
Royal Prayer
Human Feelings
On the Divan
Hans Sachs’ Poetical Mission

The Friendly Meeting
In a Word
The Maiden Speaks
Food in Travel
The Loving One Writes.
The Loving One once more
She Cannot End
The Christmas Box
The Warning
The Epochs
The Doubters and the Lovers

To Originals
The Soldier’s Consolation
Genial Impulse
Neither this nor that
The way to behave
The best
As broad as it’s long
The Rule of Life
The same, expanded
Calm at Sea
The Prosperous Voyage
My only Property
Old Age
Rules for Monarchs
Paulo post futuri
The Fool’s Epilogue

Explanation of an antique Gem
The Critic
The Dilettante and the Critic
The Wrangler
The Yelpers
The Stork’s Vocation
Playing at Priests
A Parable
Should e’er the loveless day remain A Plan the Muses entertained
The Death of the Fly
By the River
The Fox and Crane
The Fox and Huntsman
The Frogs
The Wedding
Threatening Signs
The Buyers
The Mountain Village
Three Palinodias :–

I. The Smoke that from thine Altar blows.

II. Conflict of Wit and Beauty
III. Rain and Rainbow.
The Country Schoolmaster
The Legend of the Horseshoe
A Symbol

The Drops of Nectar
The Wanderer
I Love as a Landscape Painter

Rhymed Distichs
The Metamorphosis of Plants


Thoughts on Jesus Christ’s descent into Hell

Leopold, Duke of Brunswick
To the Husbandman
Anacreon’s Grave
The Brethren
Measure of Time
The Chosen Cliff
The Consecrated Spot
The Instructors
The Unequal Marriage.
The Muse’s Mirror
Phoebus and Hermes
The New Amor
The Garlands
The Swiss Alps


Roman Elegies
Alexis and Dora
Hermann and Dorothea


I. Minstrel’s Book :–

The Four Favours
Song and Structure

II. Book of Hafis :–
The Unlimited
To Hafis

III. Book of Love :–

The Types
One Pair More
Love’s Torments

IV. Book of Contemplation :–

Five Things
For Woman

V. Book of Gloom :–
It is a Fault

VI. Book of Proverbs

VII. Book of Timur :–

The Winter and Timur
To Suleika

VIII. Book of Suleika :–

Suleika’s Love
Love for Love
The Loving One speaks
The Loving One again
These tufted Branches fair
The Sublime Type
The Reunion
In thousand forms

IX. The Convivial Book :–

Can the Koran from Eternity be?
Ye’ve often for our Drunkenness

X. Book of Parables :–

From Heaven there fell upon the foaming wave Bulbul’s Song
In the Koran with strange delight.
All kinds of Men.
It is good

XI. Book of the Parsees :–

The Bequest of the ancient Persian faith

XII. Book of Paradise:
The Privileged Men
The favoured Beasts
The Seven Sleepers

From Faust :–


Prologue in Heaven

Chorus of Angels

Chorus of Spirits

Margaret at her Spinning Wheel

Garden Scene

Margaret’s Song
From FaustÄPart II.:–

Ariel’s Song and Chorus of Spirits

Scene the last
From Iphigenia in Tauris :–

Song of the Fates
From Gotz von Berlichingen :–

Liebetraut’s Song
From Egmont :–

Clara and Brackenburg’s Song

Clara’s Song
From Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship :–

Who never eat with tears his bread

Who gives himself to Solitude

My Grief no Mortals know

Sing no more in mournful tones

Epilogue to Schiller’s Song of the Bell




TITLE AND DESCRIPTION. DATE, The Lover’s Whim, Pastoral Drama……………… 1767Ä8 The Accomplices, Comedy……………………… 1769 Satyros, or the Deified Satyr, Drama………….. 1774 Plundersweilern Fair, Puppet-show…………….. 1774 Prometheus, Dramatic fragment………………… 1773 Faust. Part I. Tragedy………………………. 1773Ä1806

Part II. Tragedy completed in………….. 1831 Elpenor, a Fragment, Tragedy…………………. 1781Ä3 Iphigenia auf Tauris, Classical drama…………. 1786Ä7 Torquato Tasso, Classical drama………………. 1787Ä9 The Natural Daughter, Tragedy………………… 1799Ä1803 Gotz von Berlichingen, Prose drama……………. 1773 Egmont, Tragedy…………………………….. 1775Ä87 Clavigo, Tragedy……………………………. 1774 Stella, Tragedy…………………………….. 1774 The Brother and Sister, Prose drama…………… 1776 The Wager, Comedy…………………………… 1812 The Gross-Cophta, Comedy…………………….. 1789 The Burgher-General, Comedy………………….. 1793 The Rebels, Political drama………………….. 1793 The Triumph of Sensibility, Dramatic whim……… 1777 The Birds, after Aristophanes, Comedy…………. 1780 Erwin and Elmire, Melodrama………………….. 1775Ä88 Claudine von Villa Bella, Melodrama…………… 1775Ä88 Jery and Bately, Melodrama…………………… 1779 Lila, Melodrama…………………………….. 1777Ä8 The Fisher-Girl, Melodrama…………………… 1782 Sport. Cunning, and Revenge, Opera Buffa………. 1785 What we’re bringing, Prelude…………………. 1802 Pandora, Drama……………………………… 1807Ä8

In addition to the above, there are nearly 20 minor dramatic pieces.




Sorrows of Werther……………………….. 1774

The Elective Affinities…………………… 1809

Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship…………… 1777Ä96

Wilhelm Meister’s Wanderings………………. 1807Ä29

Conversations of German Emigrants………….. 1793Ä5 Notes on Winckelmann………………………… 1805 Life of Philip Hackert………………………. 1810-11 Life of Benvenuto Cellini (Translation)……….. 1796Ä1803 Autobiography………………………………. 1811Ä31 Letters from Switzerland…………………….. 1775Ä1808 Tour in Italy………………………………. 1786-1817 French Campaign…………………………….. 1792Ä1822 Annals…………………………………….. 1819-25 Art and Antiquity…………………………… 1815Ä28 Theory of Colours…………………………… 1790-1810

In addition to the above, Goethe produced an almost endless number of translations, criticisms, essays, &c.


Other than those embraced in the plan of the present volume.

Masonic Songs (7)…………………………… 1815Ä30 Poems on Pictures (21)………………………. 1819, &c. Invectives (44)…………………………….. 1802Ä24 Political poems (54)………………………… 1814, &c. Masques (14)……………………………….. 1776-1818 Poems in the name of the citizens of Carlsbad (7). 1810Ä12 Poems on Individuals, &c. (209)………………. 1778Ä1831 Chinese-German Poems (14)……………………. 1827 Prophecies of Bakis (33)…………………….. 1798 The Four Seasons (99)……………………….. 1796 Epistles (3)……………………………….. 1794 Achilleis–Canto I………………………….. 1798Ä9 Reineke Fuchs………………………………. 1793

Theatrical Prologues and Epilogues (12, including

the Epilogue to the Song of the Bell, given in

this volume)…………………………….. 1782Ä1821



The morn arrived; his footstep quickly scared

The gentle sleep that round my senses clung, And I, awak’ning, from my cottage fared,

And up the mountain side with light heart sprung; At every step I felt my gaze ensnared

By new-born flow’rs that full of dew-drops hung; The youthful day awoke with ecstacy,
And all things quicken’d were, to quicken me.

And as I mounted, from the valley rose

A streaky mist, that upward slowly spread, Then bent, as though my form it would enclose,

Then, as on pinions, soar’d above my head: My gaze could now on no fair view repose,

in mournful veil conceal’d, the world seem’d dead; The clouds soon closed around me, as a tomb, And I was left alone in twilight gloom.

At once the sun his lustre seem’d to pour,

And through the mist was seen a radiant light; Here sank it gently to the ground once more,

There parted it, and climb’d o’er wood and height. How did I yearn to greet him as of yore,

After the darkness waxing doubly bright! The airy conflict ofttimes was renew’d,
Then blinded by a dazzling glow I stood.

Ere long an inward impulse prompted me

A hasty glance with boldness round to throw; At first mine eyes had scarcely strength to see,

For all around appear’d to burn and glow. Then saw I, on the clouds borne gracefully,

A godlike woman hov’ring to and fro.
In life I ne’er had seen a form so fair– She gazed at me, and still she hover’d there.

“Dost thou not know me?” were the words she said

In tones where love and faith were sweetly bound; “Knowest thou not Her who oftentimes hath shed

The purest balsam in each earthly wound? Thou knows’t me well; thy panting heart I led

To join me in a bond with rapture crown’d. Did I not see thee, when a stripling, yearning To welcome me with tears, heartfelt and burning?”

“Yes!” I exclaim’d, whilst, overcome with joy,

I sank to earth; “I long have worshipp’d thee; Thou gav’st me rest, when passions rack’d the boy,

Pervading ev’ry limb unceasingly;
Thy heav’nly pinions thou didst then employ

The scorching sunbeams to ward off from me. From thee alone Earth’s fairest gifts I gain’d, Through thee alone, true bliss can be obtain’d.

“Thy name I know not; yet I hear thee nam’d

By many a one who boasts thee as his own; Each eye believes that tow’rd thy form ’tis aim’d,

Yet to most eyes thy rays are anguish-sown. Ah! whilst I err’d, full many a friend I claim’d,

Now that I know thee, I am left alone; With but myself can I my rapture share,
I needs must veil and hide thy radiance fair.

She smiled, and answering said: “Thou see’st how wise,

How prudent ’twas but little to unveil! Scarce from the clumsiest cheat are clear’d thine eyes,

Scarce hast thou strength thy childish bars to scale, When thou dost rank thee ‘mongst the deities,

And so man’s duties to perform would’st fail! How dost thou differ from all other men? Live with the world in peace, and know thee then!”

“Oh, pardon me,” I cried, “I meant it well:

Not vainly did’st thou bless mine eyes with light; For in my blood glad aspirations swell,

The value of thy gifts I know aright! Those treasures in my breast for others dwell,

The buried pound no more I’ll hide from sight. Why did I seek the road so anxiously,
If hidden from my brethren ’twere to be?”

And as I answer’d, tow’rd me turn’d her face,

With kindly sympathy, that god-like one; Within her eye full plainly could I trace

What I had fail’d in, and what rightly done. She smiled, and cured me with that smile’s sweet grace,

To new-born joys my spirit soar’d anon; With inward confidence I now could dare
To draw yet closer, and observe her there.

Through the light cloud she then stretch’d forth her hand,

As if to bid the streaky vapour fly:
At once it seemed to yield to her command,

Contracted, and no mist then met mine eye. My glance once more survey’d the smiling land,

Unclouded and serene appear’d the sky. Nought but a veil of purest white she held, And round her in a thousand folds it swell’d.

“I know thee, and I know thy wav’ring will.

I know the good that lives and glows in thee!”– Thus spake she, and methinks I hear her still–

“The prize long destined, now receive from me; That blest one will be safe from ev’ry ill,

Who takes this gift with soul of purity,–” The veil of Minstrelsy from Truth’s own hand, Of sunlight and of morn’s sweet fragrance plann’d.

“And when thou and thy friends at fierce noon-day

Are parched with heat, straight cast it in the air! Then Zephyr’s cooling breath will round you play,

Distilling balm and flowers’ sweet incense there; The tones of earthly woe will die away,

The grave become a bed of clouds so fair, To sing to rest life’s billows will be seen, The day be lovely, and the night serene.”–

Come, then, my friends! and whensoe’er ye find

Upon your way increase life’s heavy load; If by fresh-waken’d blessings flowers are twin’d

Around your path, and golden fruits bestow’d, We’ll seek the coming day with joyous mind!

Thus blest, we’ll live, thus wander on our road And when our grandsons sorrow o’er our tomb, Our love, to glad their bosoms, still shall bloom.

Late resounds the early strain;
Weal and woe in song remain.

SOUND, sweet song, from some far land, Sighing softly close at hand,

Now of joy, and now of woe!

Stars are wont to glimmer so.

Sooner thus will good unfold;
Children young and children old
Gladly hear thy numbers flow.


* In the cases in which the date is marked thus (*), it signifies the original date of publication–the year of composition not being known. In other cases, the date given is that of the actual composition. All the poems are arranged in the order of the recognised German editions. —–

No one talks more than a Poet;
Fain he’d have the people know it.

Praise or blame he ever loves;
None in prose confess an error,
Yet we do so, void of terror,

In the Muses’ silent groves.

What I err’d in, what corrected,
What I suffer’d, what effected,

To this wreath as flow’rs belong;
For the aged, and the youthful,
And the vicious, and the truthful,

All are fair when viewed in song.


IN my boyhood’s days so drear

I was kept confined;
There I sat for many a year,

All alone I pined,
As within the womb.

Yet thou drov’st away my gloom,

Golden phantasy!
I became a hero true,

Like the Prince Pipi,
And the world roam’d through,

Many a crystal palace built,

Crush’d them with like art,
And the Dragon’s life-blood spilt

With my glitt’ring dart.
Yes! I was a man!

Next I formed the knightly plan

Princess Fish to free;
She was much too complaisant,

Kindly welcomed me,–
And I was gallant.

Heav’nly bread her kisses proved,

Glowing as the wine;
Almost unto death I loved.

Sun-s appeared to shine
In her dazzling charms.

Who hath torn her from mine arms?

Could no magic band
Make her in her flight delay?

Say, where now her land?
Where, alas, the way?


(* The name of a game, known in English as “Jack’s alight.”)

WE young people in the shade

Sat one sultry day;
Cupid came, and “Dies the Fox”

With us sought to play.

Each one of my friends then sat

By his mistress dear;
Cupid, blowing out the torch,

Said: “The taper’s here!”

Then we quickly sent around

The expiring brand;
Each one put it hastily

ln his neighbour’s hand.

Dorilis then gave it me,

With a scoffing jest;
Sudden into flame it broke,

By my fingers press’d.

And it singed my eyes and face,

Set my breast on fire;
Then above my head the blaze

Mounted ever higher.

Vain I sought to put it out;

Ever burned the flame;
Stead of dying, soon the Fox

Livelier still became.


ONCE a boy a Rosebud spied,

Heathrose fair and tender,
All array’d in youthful pride,–
Quickly to the spot he hied,

Ravished by her splendour.
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!

Said the boy, “I’ll now pick thee,

Heathrose fair and tender!”
Said the rosebud, “I’ll prick thee, So that thou’lt remember me,

Ne’er will I surrender!”
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!

Now the cruel boy must pick

Heathrose fair and tender;
Rosebud did her best to prick,–
Vain ’twas ‘gainst her fate to kick–

She must needs surrender.
Rosebud, rosebud, rosebud red,

Heathrose fair and tender!


OH, my Theresa dear!
Thine eyes, I greatly fear,

Can through the bandage see!
Although thine eyes are bound,
By thee I’m quickly found,

And wherefore shouldst thou catch but me?

Ere long thou held’st me fast,
With arms around me cast,

Upon thy breast I fell;
Scarce was thy bandage gone,
When all my joy was flown,

Thou coldly didst the blind repel.

He groped on ev’ry side,
His limbs he sorely tried,

While scoffs arose all round;
If thou no love wilt give,
In sadness I shall live,

As if mine eyes remain’d still bound.


My senses ofttimes are oppress’d,

Oft stagnant is my blood;
But when by Christel’s sight I’m blest,

I feel my strength renew’d.
I see her here, I see her there,

And really cannot tell
The manner how, the when, the where,

The why I love her well.

If with the merest glance I view

Her black and roguish eyes,
And gaze on her black eyebrows too,

My spirit upward flies.
Has any one a mouth so sweet,

Such love-round cheeks as she?
Ah, when the eye her beauties meet,

It ne’er content can be.

And when in airy German dance

I clasp her form divine,
So quick we whirl, so quick advance,

What rapture then like mine!
And when she’s giddy, and feels warm,

I cradle her, poor thing,
Upon my breast, and in mine arm,–

I’m then a very king!

And when she looks with love on me,

Forgetting all but this,
When press’d against my bosom, she

Exchanges kiss for kiss,
All through my marrow runs a thrill,

Runs e’en my foot along!
I feel so well, I feel so ill,

I feel so weak, so strong!

Would that such moments ne’er would end!

The day ne’er long I find;
Could I the night too with her spend,

E’en that I should not mind.
If she were in mine arms but held,

To quench love’s thirst I’d try;
And could my torments not be quell’d,

Upon her breast would die.


ONE Spring-morning bright and fair,

Roam’d a shepherdess and sang;
Young and beauteous, free from care,

Through the fields her clear notes rang: So, Ia, Ia! le ralla, &c.

Of his lambs some two or three

Thyrsis offer’d for a kiss;
First she eyed him roguishly,

Then for answer sang but this:
So, Ia, Ia! le ralla, &c.

Ribbons did the next one offer,

And the third, his heart so true
But, as with the lambs, the scoffer

Laugh’d at heart and ribbons too,–
Still ’twas Ia! le ralla, &c.


As at sunset I was straying

Silently the wood along,
Damon on his flute was playing,

And the rocks gave back the song,
So la, Ia! &c.

Softly tow’rds him then he drew me;

Sweet each kiss he gave me then!
And I said, “Play once more to me!”

And he kindly play’d again,
So la, la! &c.

All my peace for aye has fleeted,

All my happiness has flown;
Yet my ears are ever greeted

With that olden, blissful tone,
So la, la! &c.


My maiden she proved false to me;

To hate all joys I soon began,

Then to a flowing stream I ran,–
The stream ran past me hastily.

There stood I fix’d, in mute despair;

My head swam round as in a dream;

I well-nigh fell into the stream,
And earth seem’d with me whirling there.

Sudden I heard a voice that cried–

I had just turn’d my face from thence–

It was a voice to charm each sense:
“Beware, for deep is yonder tide!”

A thrill my blood pervaded now,

I look’d and saw a beauteous maid

I asked her name–twas Kate, she said– “Oh lovely Kate! how kind art thou!

“From death I have been sav’d by thee,

‘Tis through thee only that I live;

Little ’twere life alone to give,
My joy in life then deign to be!”

And then I told my sorrows o’er,

Her eyes to earth she sweetly threw;

I kiss’d her, and she kiss’d me too,
And–then I talked of death no more.


[Goethe quotes the beginning of this song in his Autobiography, as expressing the manner in which his poetical effusions used to pour out from him.]

THROUGH field and wood to stray,
And pipe my tuneful lay,–

‘Tis thus my days are pass’d;
And all keep tune with me,
And move in harmony,

And so on, to the last.

To wait I scarce have power
The garden’s earliest flower,

The tree’s first bloom in Spring;
They hail my joyous strain,–
When Winter comes again,

Of that sweet dream I sing.

My song sounds far and near,
O’er ice it echoes clear,

Then Winter blossoms bright;
And when his blossoms fly,
Fresh raptures meet mine eye,

Upon the well-till’d height.

When ‘neath the linden tree,
Young folks I chance to see,

I set them moving soon;
His nose the dull lad curls,
The formal maiden whirls,

Obedient to my tune.

Wings to the feet ye lend,
O’er hill and vale ye send

The lover far from home;
When shall I, on your breast,.

Ye kindly muses, rest,
And cease at length to roam?


ONCE through the forest

Alone I went;
To seek for nothing

My thoughts were bent.

I saw i’ the shadow

A flower stand there
As stars it glisten’d,

As eyes ’twas fair.

I sought to pluck it,–

It gently said:
“Shall I be gather’d

Only to fade?”

With all its roots

I dug it with care,
And took it home

To my garden fair.

In silent corner

Soon it was set;
There grows it ever,

There blooms it yet.


A FAIR bell-flower

Sprang tip from the ground;
And early its fragrance

It shed all around;
A bee came thither

And sipp’d from its bell;
That they for each other

Were made, we see well.



COME to the dance with me, come with me, fair one!

Dances a feast-day like this may well crown. If thou my sweetheart art not, thou canst be so,

But if thou wilt not, we still will dance on. Come to the dance with me, come with me, fair one!

Dances a feast-day like this may well crown.


Loved one, without thee, what then would all feast be?

Sweet one, without thee, what then were the dance? If thou my sweetheart wert not, I would dance not.

If thou art still so, all life is one feast. Loved one, without thee, what then would all feasts be?

Sweet one, without thee, what then were the dance?


Let them but love, then, and leave us the dancing!

Languishing love cannot bear the glad dance. Let us whirl round in the waltz’s gay measure,

And let them steal to the dim-lighted wood. Let them but love, then, and leave us the dancing!

Languishing love cannot bear the glad dance.


Let them whirl round, then, and leave us to wander!

Wand’ring to love is a heavenly dance. Cupid, the near one, o’erhears their deriding,

Vengeance takes suddenly, vengeance takes soon. Let them whirl round, then, and leave us to wander!

Wand’ring to love is a heavenly dance.


My neighbour’s curtain, well I see,

Is moving to and fin.
No doubt she’s list’ning eagerly,

If I’m at home or no.

And if the jealous grudge I bore

And openly confess’d,
Is nourish’d by me as before,

Within my inmost breast.

Alas! no fancies such as these

E’er cross’d the dear child’s thoughts. I see ’tis but the ev’ning breeze

That with the curtain sports.


OH, would I resembled

The country girls fair,
Who rosy-red ribbons

And yellow hats wear!

To believe I was pretty

I thought was allow’d;
In the town I believed it

When by the youth vow’d.

Now that Spring hath return’d,

All my joys disappear;
The girls of the country

Have lured him from here.

To change dress and figure,

Was needful I found,
My bodice is longer,

My petticoat round.

My hat now is yellow.

My bodice like snow;
The clover to sickle

With others I go.

Something pretty, e’er long

Midst the troop he explores;
The eager boy signs me

To go within doors.

I bashfully go,–

Who I am, he can’t trace;
He pinches my cheeks,

And he looks in my face.

The town girl now threatens

You maidens with war;
Her twofold charms pledges .

Of victory are.


To be like a fish,
Brisk and quick, is my wish;
If thou cam’st with thy line.
Thou wouldst soon make me thine.
To be like a fish,
Brisk and quick, is my wish.

Oh, were I a steed!
Thou wouldst love me indeed.
Oh, were I a car
Fit to bear thee afar!
Oh, were I a steed!
Thou wouldst love me indeed.

I would I were gold
That thy fingers might hold!
If thou boughtest aught then,
I’d return soon again.
I would I were gold
That thy fingers might hold!

I would I were true,
And my sweetheart still new!
To be faithful I’d swear,
And would go away ne’er.
I would I were true,
And my sweetheart still new!

I would I were old,
And wrinkled and cold,
So that if thou said’st No,
I could stand such a blow!
I would I were old,
And wrinkled and cold.

An ape I would be,
Full of mischievous glee;
If aught came to vex thee,
I’d plague and perplex thee.
An ape I would be,
Full of mischievous glee

As a lamb I’d behave,
As a lion be brave,
As a lynx clearly see,
As a fox cunning be.
As a lamb I’d behave,
As a lion be brave.

Whatever I were,
All on thee I’d confer;
With the gifts of a prince
My affection evince.
Whatever I were,
All on thee I’d confer.

As nought diff’rent can make me,
As I am thou must take me!
If I’m not good enough,
Thou must cut thine own stuff.
As nought diff’rent can make me,
As I am thou must take me!


My neighbour, none can e’er deny,

Is a most beauteous maid;
Her shop is ever in mine eye,

When working at my trade.

To ring and chain I hammer then

The wire of gold assay’d,
And think the while: “For Kate, oh when

Will such a ring be made?”

And when she takes her shutters down,

Her shop at once invade,
To buy and haggle, all the town,

For all that’s there displayd.

I file, and maybe overfile

The wire of gold assay’d;
My master grumbles all the while,–

Her shop the mischief made.

To ply her wheel she straight begins,

When not engaged in trade;
I know full well for what she spins,–

‘Tis hope guides that dear maid.

Her leg, while her small foot treads on,

Is in my mind portray’d;
Her garter I recall anon,–

I gave it that dear maid.

Then to her lips the finest thread

Is by her hand convey’d.
Were I there only in its stead,

How I would kiss the maid!



IN the small and great world too,

What most charms a woman’s heart?
It is doubtless what is new,

For its blossoms joy impart;
Nobler far is what is true,

For fresh blossoms it can shoot

Even in the time of fruit.


With the Nymphs in wood and cave

Paris was acquainted well,
Till Zeus sent, to make him rave,

Three of those in Heav’n who dwell;
And the choice more trouble gave

Than e’er fell to mortal lot,

Whether in old times or not.


Tenderly a woman view,

And thoult win her, take my word;
He who’s quick and saucy too,

Will of all men be preferr’d;
Who ne’er seems as if he knew

If he pleases, if he charms,–

He ’tis injures, he ’tis harms.


Manifold is human strife,

Human passion, human pain;
Many a blessing yet is rife,

Many pleasures still remain.
Yet the greatest bliss in life,

And the richest prize we find,

Is a good, contented mind.


He by whom man’s foolish will

Is each day review’d and blamed,
Who, when others fools are still,

Is himself a fool proclaim’d,–
Ne’er at mill was beast’s back press’d

With a heavier load than he.
What I feel within my breast

That in truth’s the thing for me!



I’VE seen him before me!
What rapture steals o’er me!

Oh heavenly sight!
He’s coming to meet me;
Perplex’d, I retreat me,

With shame take to flight.
My mind seems to wander!
Ye rocks and trees yonder,

Conceal ye my rapture.

Conceal my delight!


‘Tis here I must find her,
‘Twas here she enshrined her,

Here vanish’d from sight.
She came, as to meet me,
Then fearing to greet me,

With shame took to flight.
Is’t hope? Do I wander?
Ye rocks and trees yonder,

Disclose ye the loved one,

Disclose my delight!


O’er my sad, fate I sorrow,
To each dewy morrow,

Veil’d here from man’s sight
By the many mistaken,
Unknown and forsaken,

Here I wing my flight!
Compassionate spirit!
Let none ever hear it,–

Conceal my affliction,

Conceal thy delight!


To-day I’m rewarded;
Rich booty’s afforded

By Fortune so bright.
My servant the pheasants,
And hares fit for presents

Takes homeward at night;
Here see I enraptured
In nets the birds captured!–

Long life to the hunter!

Long live his delight!


OF all the beauteous wares
Exposed for sale at fairs,
None will give more delight
Than those that to your sight
From distant lands we bring.
Oh, hark to what we sing!
These beauteous birds behold,
They’re brought here to be sold.

And first the big one see,
So full of roguish glee!
With light and merry bound
He leaps upon the ground;
Then springs up on the bougd,
We will not praise him now.
The merry bird behold,–
He’s brought here to be sold.

And now the small one see!
A modest look has he,
And yet he’s such apother
As his big roguish brother.
‘Tis chiefly when all’s still
He loves to show his will.
The bird so small and bold,–
He’s brought here to be sold.

Observe this little love,
This darling turtle dove!
All maidens are so neat,
So civil, so discreet
Let them their charms set loose,
And turn your love to use;
The gentle bird behold,–
She’s brought here to be sold.

Their praises we won’t tell;
They’ll stand inspection well.
They’re fond of what is new,–
And yet, to show they’re true,
Nor seal nor letter’s wanted;
To all have wings been granted.
The pretty birds behold,–
Such beauties ne’er were sold!


AT first awhile sits he,

With calm, unruffled brow;
His features then I see,
Distorted hideously,–

An owl’s they might be now.

What is it, askest thou?
Is’t love, or is’t ennui?

‘Tis both at once, I vow.


I ONCE into a forest far

My maiden went to seek,
And fell upon her neck, when: “Ah!”

She threaten’d, “I will shriek!”

Then cried I haughtily: “I’ll crush

The man that dares come near thee!”
“Hush!” whisper’d she: “My loved one, hush!

Or else they’ll overhear thee!”


WHAT pleasure to me
A bridegroom would be!
When married we are,
They call us mamma.
No need then to sew,
To school we ne’er go;
Command uncontroll’d,
Have maids, whom to scold;
Choose clothes at our ease,
Of what tradesmen we please;
Walk freely about,
And go to each rout,
And unrestrained are
By papa or mamma.


IF to a girl who loves us truly
Her mother gives instruction duly
In virtue, duty, and what not,–
And if she hearkens ne’er a jot,
But with fresh-strengthen’d longing flies

To meet our kiss that seems to burn,–

Caprice has just as much concerned
As love in her bold enterprise.

But if her mother can succeed
In gaining for her maxims heed,
And softening the girl’s heart too, So that she coyly shuns our view,–
The heart of youth she knows but ill;

For when a maiden is thus stern,

Virtue in truth has less concern
In this, than an inconstant will.


VAINLY wouldst thou, to gain a heart,

Heap up a maiden’s lap with gold;
The joys of love thou must impart,

Wouldst thou e’er see those joys unfold. The voices of the throng gold buys,