The Poems of Goethe
Part 8 out of 11
RAIN AND RAINBOW.
DURING a heavy storm it chanced
That from his room a cockney glanced
At the fierce tempest as it broke,
While to his neighbour thus he spoke:
"The thunder has our awe inspired,
Our barns by lightning have been fired,--
Our sins to punish, I suppose;
But in return, to soothe our woes,
See how the rain in torrents fell,
Making the harvest promise well!
But is't a rainbow that I spy
Extending o'er the dark-grey sky?
With it I'm sure we may dispense,
The colour'd cheat! The vain pretence!"
Dame Iris straightway thus replied:
"Dost dare my beauty to deride?
In realms of space God station'd me
A type of better worlds to be
To eyes that from life's sorrows rove
In cheerful hope to Heav'n above,
And, through the mists that hover here
God and his precepts blest revere.
Do thou, then, grovel like the swine,
And to the ground thy snout confine,
But suffer the enlighten'd eye
To feast upon my majesty."
I ONCE was fond of fools,
And bid them come each day;
Then each one brought his tools
The carpenter to play;
The roof to strip first choosing,
Another to supply,
The wood as trestles using,
To move it by-and-by,
While here and there they ran,
And knock'd against each other;
To fret I soon began,
My anger could not smother,
So cried, "Get out, ye fools!"
At this they were offended
Then each one took his tools,
And so our friendship ended.
Since that, I've wiser been,
And sit beside my door;
When one of them is seen,
I cry, "Appear no more!"
"Hence, stupid knave!" I bellow:
At this he's angry too:
"You impudent old fellow!
And pray, sir, who are you?
Along the streets we riot,
And revel at the fair;
But yet we're pretty quiet,
And folks revile us ne'er.
Don't call us names, then, please!"--
At length I meet with ease,
For now they leave my door--
'Tis better than before!
THE COUNTRY SCHOOLMASTER.
A MASTER of a country school
Jump'd up one day from off his stool,
Inspired with firm resolve to try
To gain the best society;
So to the nearest baths he walk'd,
And into the saloon he stalk'd.
He felt quite. startled at the door,
Ne'er having seen the like before.
To the first stranger made he now
A very low and graceful bow,
But quite forgot to bear in mind
That people also stood behind;
His left-hand neighbor's paunch he struck
A grievous blow, by great ill luck;
Pardon for this he first entreated,
And then in haste his bow repeated.
His right hand neighbor next he hit,
And begg'd him, too, to pardon it;
But on his granting his petition,
Another was in like condition;
These compliments he paid to all,
Behind, before, across the hall;
At length one who could stand no more,
Show'd him impatiently the door.
* * * *
May many, pond'ring on their crimes,
A moral draw from this betimes!
As he proceeded on his way
He thought, "I was too weak to-day;
To bow I'll ne'er again be seen;
For goats will swallow what is green."
Across the fields he now must speed,
Not over stumps and stones, indeed,
But over meads and cornfields sweet,
Trampling down all with clumsy feet.
A farmer met him by-and-by,
And didn't ask him: how? or why?
But with his fist saluted him.
"I feel new life in every limb!"
Our traveller cried in ecstasy.
"Who art thou who thus gladden'st me?
May Heaven such blessings ever send!
Ne'er may I want a jovial friend!"
THE LEGEND OF THE HORSESHOE.
WHAT time our Lord still walk'd the earth,
Unknown, despised, of humble birth,
And on Him many a youth attended
(His words they seldom comprehended),
It ever seem'd to Him most meet
To hold His court in open street,
As under heaven's broad canopy
One speaks with greater liberty.
The teachings of His blessed word
From out His holy mouth were heard;
Each market to a fane turn'd He
With parable and simile.
One day, as tow'rd a town He roved,
In peace of mind with those He loved,
Upon the path a something gleam'd;
A broken horseshoe 'twas, it seem'd.
So to St. Peter thus He spake:
"That piece of iron prythee take!"
St. Peter's thoughts had gone astray,--
He had been musing on his way
Respecting the world's government,
A dream that always gives content,
For in the head 'tis check'd by nought;
This ever was his dearest thought,
For him this prize was far too mean
Had it a crown and sceptre been!
But, surely, 'twasn't worth the trouble
For half a horseshoe to bend double!
And so he turn'd away his head,
As if he heard not what was said,
The Lord, forbearing tow'rd all men,
Himself pick'd up the horseshoe then
(He ne'er again like this stoop'd down).
And when at length they reach'd the town,
Before a smithy He remain'd,
And there a penny for 't obtain'd.
As they the market-place went by,
Some beauteous cherries caught His eye:
Accordingly He bought as many
As could be purchased for a penny,
And then, as oft His wont had been,
Placed them within His sleeve unseen.
They went out by another gate,
O'er plains and fields proceeding straight,
No house or tree was near the spot,
The sun was bright, the day was hot;
In short, the weather being such,
A draught of water was worth much.
The Lord walk'd on before them all,
And let, unseen, a cherry fall.
St. Peter rush'd to seize it hold,
As though an apple 'twere of gold;
His palate much approv'd the berry;
The Lord ere long another cherry
Once more let fall upon the plain;
St. Peter forthwith stoop'd again.
The Lord kept making him thus bend
To pick up cherries without end.
For a long time the thing went on;
The Lord then said, in cheerful tone:
"Had'st thou but moved when thou wert bid,
Thou of this trouble had'st been rid;
The man who small things scorns, will next,
By things still smaller be perplex'd."
(This fine poem is given by Goethe amongst a small collection of
what he calls Loge (Lodge), meaning thereby Masonic pieces.)
THE mason's trade Observe them well,
Resembles life, And watch them revealing
With all its strife,-- How solemn feeling
Is like the stir made And wonderment swell
By man on earth's face. The hearts of the brave.
Though weal and woe The voice of the blest,
The future may hide, And of spirits on high
Unterrified Seems loudly to cry:
We onward go "To do what is best,
In ne'er changing race. Unceasing endeavour!
A veil of dread "In silence eterne
Hangs heavier still. Here chaplets are twin'd,
Deep slumbers fill That each noble mind
The stars over-head, Its guerdon may earn.--
And the foot-trodden grave. Then hope ye for ever!"
Artist, fashion! talk not long!
Be a breath thine only song!
THE DROPS OF NECTAR.
WHEN Minerva, to give pleasure
To Prometheus, her well-loved one,
Brought a brimming bowl of nectar
From the glorious realms of heaven
As a blessing for his creatures,
And to pour into their bosoms
Impulses for arts ennobling,
She with rapid footstep hasten'd,
Fearing Jupiter might see her,
And the golden goblet trembled,
And there fell a few drops from it
On the verdant plain beneath her.
Then the busy bees flew thither
Straightway, eagerly to drink them,
And the butterfly came quickly
That he, too, might find a drop there;
Even the misshapen spider
Thither crawl'd and suck'd with vigour.
To a happy end they tasted,
They, and other gentle insects!
For with mortals now divide they
ArtÄthat noblest gift of all.
[Published in the Gottingen Musen Almanach, having been written
"to express his feelings and caprices" after his separation from
YOUNG woman, may God bless thee,
Thee, and the sucking infant
Upon thy breast!
Let me, 'gainst this rocky wall,
Neath the elm-tree's shadow,
Lay aside my burden,
Near thee take my rest.
What vocation leads thee,
While the day is burning,
Up this dusty path?
Bring'st thou goods from out the town
Round the country?
Smil'st thou, stranger,
At my question?
From the town no goods I bring.
Cool is now the evening;
Show to me the fountain
'Whence thou drinkest,
Woman young and kind!
Up the rocky pathway mount;
Go thou first! Across the thicket
Leads the pathway tow'rd the cottage
That I live in,
To the fountain
Whence I drink.
Signs of man's arranging hand
See I 'mid the trees!
Not by thee these stones were join'd,
Nature, who so freely scatterest!
Up, still up!
Lo, a mossy architrave is here!
I discern thee, fashioning spirit!
On the stone thou hast impress'd thy seal.
Over an inscription am I treading!
Ye are seen no longer,
Words so deeply graven,
Who your master's true devotion
Should have shown to thousand grandsons!
At these stones, why
Start'st thou, stranger?
Many stones are lying yonder
Round my cottage.
Through the thicket,
Turning to the left,
Ye Muses and ye Graces!
This, then, is my cottage.
'Tis a ruin'd temple! *
Just below it, see,
Springs the fountain
Whence I drink.
Thou dost hover
O'er thy grave, all glowing,
Genius! while upon thee
Hath thy master-piece
Thou Immortal One!
Stay, a cup I'll fetch thee
Whence to drink.
Ivy circles thy slender
Form so graceful and godlike.
How ye rise on high
From the ruins,
And thou, their lonely sister yonder,--
Dusky moss upon thy sacred head,--
Lookest down in mournful majesty
On thy brethren's figures
At thy feet!
In the shadow of the bramble
Earth and rubbish veil them,
Lofty grass is waving o'er them
Is it thus thou, Nature, prizest
Thy great masterpiece's masterpiece?
Carelessly destroyest thou
Thine own sanctuary,
Sowing thistles there?
How the infant sleeps!
Wilt thou rest thee in the cottage,
Stranger? Wouldst thou rather
In the open air still linger?
Now 'tis cool! take thou the child
While I go and draw some water.
Sleep on, darling! sleep!
Sweet is thy repose!
How, with heaven-born health imbued,
Peacefully he slumbers!
Oh thou, born among the ruins
Spread by great antiquity,
On thee rest her spirit!
He whom it encircles
Will, in godlike consciousness,
Ev'ry day enjoy.
Full, of germ, unfold,
As the smiling springtime's
Outshining all thy fellows!
And when the blossom's husk is faded,
May the full fruit shoot forth
From out thy breast,
And ripen in the sunshine!
God bless him!--Is he sleeping still?
To the fresh draught I nought can add,
Saving a crust of bread for thee to eat.
I thank thee well.
How fair the verdure all around!
My husband soon
Will home return
From labour. Tarry, tarry, man,
And with us eat our evening meal.
Is't here ye dwell?
Yonder, within those walls we live.
My father 'twas who built the cottage
Of tiles and stones from out the ruins.
'Tis here we dwell.
He gave me to a husbandman,
And in our arms expired.--
Hast thou been sleeping, dearest heart
How lively, and how full of play!
Nature, thou ever budding one,
Thou formest each for life's enjoyments,
And, like a mother, all thy children dear,
Blessest with that sweet heritage,--a home
The swallow builds the cornice round,
Unconscious of the beauties
She plasters up.
The caterpillar spins around the bough,
To make her brood a winter house;
And thou dost patch, between antiquity's
Most glorious relics,
For thy mean use,
Oh man, a humble cot,--
Enjoyest e'en mid tombs!--
Farewell, thou happy woman!
Thou wilt not stay, then?
May God preserve thee,
And bless thy boy!
A happy journey!
Whither conducts the path
Across yon hill?
How far from hence?
'Tis full three miles.
Oh Nature, guide me on my way!
The wandering stranger guide,
Who o'er the tombs
Of holy bygone times
To a kind sheltering place,
From North winds safe,
And where a poplar grove
Shuts out the noontide ray!
And when I come
Home to my cot
Illumined by the setting sun,
Let me embrace a wife like this,
Her infant in her arms!
* Compare with the beautiful description contained in the
subsequent lines, an account of a ruined temple of Ceres, given
by Chamberlayne in his Pharonnida (published in 1659)
".... With mournful majesiy
A heap of solitary ruins lie,
Half sepulchred in dust, the bankrupt heir
To prodigal antiquity...."
LOVE AS A LANDSCAPE PAINTER.
ON a rocky peak once sat I early,
Gazing on the mist with eyes unmoving;
Stretch'd out like a pall of greyish texture,
All things round, and all above it cover'd.
Suddenly a boy appear'd beside me,
Saying "Friend, what meanest thou by gazing
On the vacant pall with such composure?
Hast thou lost for evermore all pleasure
Both in painting cunningly, and forming?"
On the child I gazed, and thought in secret:
"Would the boy pretend to be a master?"
"Wouldst thou be for ever dull and idle,"
Said the boy, "no wisdom thou'lt attain to;
See, I'll straightway paint for thee a figure,--
How to paint a beauteous figure, show thee."
And he then extended his fore-finger,--
(Ruddy was it as a youthful rosebud)
Tow'rd the broad and far outstretching carpet,
And began to draw there with his finger.
First on high a radiant sun he painted,
Which upon mine eyes with splendour glisten'd,
And he made the clouds with golden border,
Through the clouds he let the sunbeams enter;
Painted then the soft and feathery summits
Of the fresh and quicken'd trees, behind them
One by one with freedom drew the mountains;
Underneath he left no lack of water,
But the river painted so like Nature,
That it seem'd to glitter in the sunbeams,
That it seem'd against its banks to murmur.
Ah, there blossom'd flowers beside the river,
And bright colours gleam'd upon the meadow,
Gold, and green, and purple, and enamell'd,
All like carbuncles and emeralds seeming!
Bright and clear he added then the heavens,
And the blue-tinged mountains far and farther,
So that I, as though newborn, enraptured
Gazed on, now the painter, now the picture.
Then spake he: "Although I have convinced thee
That this art I understand full surely,
Yet the hardest still is left to show thee."
Thereupon he traced, with pointed finger,
And with anxious care, upon the forest,
At the utmost verge, where the strong sunbeams
From the shining ground appear'd reflected,
Traced the figure of a lovely maiden,
Fair in form, and clad in graceful fashion,
Fresh the cheeks beneath her brown locks' ambush,
And the cheeks possess'd the selfsame colour
As the finger that had served to paint them.
"Oh thou boy!" exclaim'd I then, "what master
In his school received thee as his pupil,
Teaching thee so truthfully and quickly
Wisely to begin, and well to finish?"
Whilst I still was speaking, lo, a zephyr
Softly rose, and set the tree-tops moving,
Curling all the wavelets on the river,
And the perfect maiden's veil, too, fill'd it,
And to make my wonderment still greater,
Soon the maiden set her foot in motion.
On she came, approaching tow'rd the station
Where still sat I with my arch instructor.
As now all, yes, all thus moved together,--
Flowers, river, trees, the veil,--all moving,--
And the gentle foot of that most fair one,
Can ye think that on my rock I linger'd,
Like a rock, as though fast-chain'd and silent?
GOD, SOUL, AND WORLD.
[The Distichs, of which these are given as a specimen, are about
forty in number.]
WHO trusts in God,
Fears not His rod.
THIS truth may be by all believed:
Whom God deceives, is well deceived.
HOW? when? and where?--No answer comes from high;
Thou wait'st for the Because, and yet thou ask'st not Why?
IF the whole is ever to gladden thee,
That whole in the smallest thing thou must see.
WATER its living strength first shows,
When obstacles its course oppose.
TRANSPARENT appears the radiant air,
Though steel and stone in its breast it may bear;
At length they'll meet with fiery power,
And metal and stones on the earth will shower.
WHATE'ER a living flame may surround,
No longer is shapeless, or earthly bound.
'Tis now invisible, flies from earth,
And hastens on high to the place of its birth.
IN His blest name, who was His own creation,
Who from all time makes making his vocation;
The name of Him who makes our faith so bright,
Love, confidence, activity, and might;
In that One's name, who, named though oft He be,
Unknown is ever in Reality:
As far as ear can reach, or eyesight dim,
Thou findest but the known resembling Him;
How high so'er thy fiery spirit hovers,
Its simile and type it straight discovers
Onward thou'rt drawn, with feelings light and gay,
Where'er thou goest, smiling is the way;
No more thou numbrest, reckonest no time,
Each step is infinite, each step sublime.
WHAT God would outwardly alone control,
And on his finger whirl the mighty Whole?
He loves the inner world to move, to view
Nature in Him, Himself in Nature too,
So that what in Him works, and is, and lives,
The measure of His strength, His spirit gives.
WITHIN us all a universe doth dwell;
And hence each people's usage laudable,
That ev'ry one the Best that meets his eyes
As God, yea e'en his God, doth recognise;
To Him both earth and heaven surrenders he,
Fears Him, and loves Him too, if that may be.
THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS.
THOU art confused, my beloved, at, seeing the thousandfold union
Shown in this flowery troop, over the garden dispers'd;
any a name dost thou hear assign'd; one after another
Falls on thy list'ning ear, with a barbarian sound.
None resembleth another, yet all their forms have a likeness;
Therefore, a mystical law is by the chorus proclaim'd;
Yes, a sacred enigma! Oh, dearest friend, could I only
Happily teach thee the word, which may the mystery solve!
Closely observe how the plant, by little and little progressing,
Step by step guided on, changeth to blossom and fruit!
First from the seed it unravels itself, as soon as the silent
Fruit-bearing womb of the earth kindly allows Its escape,
And to the charms of the light, the holy, the ever-in-motion,
Trusteth the delicate leaves, feebly beginning to shoot.
Simply slumber'd the force in the seed; a germ of the future,
Peacefully lock'd in itself, 'neath the integument lay,
Leaf and root, and bud, still void of colour, and shapeless;
Thus doth the kernel, while dry, cover that motionless life.
Upward then strives it to swell, in gentle moisture confiding,
And, from the night where it dwelt, straightway ascendeth to light.
Yet still simple remaineth its figure, when first it appeareth;
And 'tis a token like this, points out the child 'mid the plants.
Soon a shoot, succeeding it, riseth on high, and reneweth,
Piling-up node upon node, ever the primitive form;
Yet not ever alike: for the following leaf, as thou seest,
Ever produceth itself, fashioned in manifold ways.
Longer, more indented, in points and in parts more divided,
Which. all-deform'd until now, slept in the organ below,
So at length it attaineth the noble and destined perfection,
Which, in full many a tribe, fills thee with wondering awe.
Many ribb'd and tooth'd, on a surface juicy and swelling,
Free and unending the shoot seemeth in fullness to be;
Yet here Nature restraineth, with powerful hands, the formation,
And to a perfecter end, guideth with softness its growth,
Less abundantly yielding the sap, contracting the vessels,
So that the figure ere long gentler effects doth disclose.
Soon and in silence is check'd the growth of the vigorous branches,
And the rib of the stalk fuller becometh in form.
Leafless, however, and quick the tenderer stem then up-springeth,
And a miraculous sight doth the observer enchant.
Ranged in a circle, in numbers that now are small, and now countless,
Gather the smaller-sized leaves, close by the side of their like.
Round the axis compress'd the sheltering calyx unfoldeth,
And, as the perfectest type, brilliant-hued coronals forms.
Thus doth Nature bloom, in glory still nobler and fuller,
Showing, in order arranged, member on member uprear'd.
Wonderment fresh dost thou feel, as soon as the stem rears the flower
Over the scaffolding frail of the alternating leaves.
But this glory is only the new creation's foreteller,
Yes, the leaf with its hues feeleth the hand all divine,
And on a sudden contracteth itself; the tenderest figures
Twofold as yet, hasten on, destined to blend into one.
Lovingly now the beauteous pairs are standing together,
Gather'd in countless array, there where the altar is raised.
Hymen hovereth o'er them, and scents delicious and mighty
Stream forth their fragrance so sweet, all things enliv'ning around.
Presently, parcell'd out, unnumber'd germs are seen swelling,
Sweetly conceald in the womb, where is made perfect the fruit.
Here doth Nature close the ring of her forces eternal;
Yet doth a new one, at once, cling to the one gone before,
So that the chain be prolonged for ever through all generations,
And that the whole may have life, e'en as enjoy'd by each part.
Now, my beloved one, turn thy gaze on the many-hued thousands
Which, confusing no more, gladden the mind as they wave.
Every plant unto thee proclaimeth the laws everlasting,
Every flowered speaks louder and louder to thee;
But if thou here canst decipher the mystic words of the goddess,
Everywhere will they be seen, e'en though the features are changed.
Creeping insects may linger, the eager butterfly hasten,--
Plastic and forming, may man change e'en the figure decreed!
Oh, then, bethink thee, as well, how out of the germ of acquaintance,
Kindly intercourse sprang, slowly unfolding its leaves;
Soon how friendship with might unveil'd itself in our bosoms,
And how Amor, at length, brought forth blossom and fruit
Think of the manifold ways wherein Nature hath lent to our feelings,
Silently giving them birth, either the first or the last!
Yes, and rejoice in the present day! For love that is holy
Seeketh the noblest of fruits,--that where the thoughts are the same,
Where the opinions agree,--that the pair may, in rapt contemplation,
Lovingly blend into one,--find the more excellent world.
'TIS easier far a wreath to bind,
Than a good owner fort to find.
I KILL'D a thousand flies overnight,
Yet was waken'd by one, as soon as twas light.
To the mother I give;
For the daughter I live.
A BREACH is every day,
By many a mortal storm'd;
Let them fall in the gaps as they may,
Yet a heap of dead is ne'er form'd.
WHAT harm has thy poor mirror done, alas?
Look not so ugly, prythee, in the glass!
THE Epigrams bearing the title of XENIA were written by Goethe
and Schiller together, having been first occasioned by some
violent attacks made on them by some insignificant writers. They
are extremely numerous, but scarcely any of them could be
translated into English. Those here given are merely presented as
GOD gave to mortals birth,
In his own image too;
Then came Himself to earth,
A mortal kind and true.
BARBARIANS oft endeavour
Gods for themselves to make
But they're more hideous ever
Than dragon or than snake.
WHAT shall I teach thee, the very first thing?--
Fain would I learn o'er my shadow to spring!
"WHAT is science, rightly known?
'Tis the strength of life alone.
Life canst thou engender never,
Life must be life's parent ever.
It matters not, I ween,
Where worms our friends consume,
Beneath the turf so green,
Or 'neath a marble tomb.
Remember, ye who live,
Though frowns the fleeting day,
That to your friends ye give
What never will decay.
RELIGION AND CHURCH.
THOUGHTS ON JESUS CHRIST'S DESCENT INTO HELL.
[THE remarkable Poem of which this is a literal but faint
representation, was written when Goethe was only sixteen years
old. It derives additional interest from the fact of its being
the very earliest piece of his that is preserved. The few other
pieces included by Goethe under the title of Religion and Church
are polemical, and devoid of interest to the English reader.]
WHAT wondrous noise is heard around!
Through heaven exulting voices sound,
A mighty army marches on
By thousand millions follow'd, lo,
To yon dark place makes haste to go
God's Son, descending from His throne!
He goes--the tempests round Him break,
As Judge and Hero cometh He;
He goes--the constellations quake,
The sun, the world quake fearfully.
I see Him in His victor-car,
On fiery axles borne afar,
Who on the cross for us expired.
The triumph to yon realms He shows,--
Remote from earth, where star ne'er glows,
The triumph He for us acquired.
He cometh, Hell to extirpate,
Whom He, by dying, wellnigh kill'd;
He shall pronounce her fearful fate
Hark! now the curse is straight fulfill'd.
Hell sees the victor come at last,
She feels that now her reign is past,
She quakes and fears to meet His sight;
She knows His thunders' terrors dread,
In vain she seeks to hide her head,
Attempts to fly, but vain is flight;
Vainly she hastes to 'scape pursuit
And to avoid her Judge's eye;
The Lord's fierce wrath restrains her foot
Like brazen chains,--she cannot fly.
Here lies the Dragon, trampled down,
He lies, and feels God's angry frown,
He feels, and grinneth hideously;
He feels Hell's speechless agonies,
A thousand times he howls and sighs:
"Oh, burning flames! quick, swallow me!"
There lies he in the fiery waves,
By torments rack'd and pangs infernal,
Instant annihilation craves,
And hears, those pangs will be eternal.
Those mighty squadrons, too, are here,
The partners of his cursed career,
Yet far less bad than he were they.
Here lies the countless throng combined,
In black and fearful crowds entwined,
While round him fiery tempests play;
He sees how they the Judge avoid,
He sees the storm upon them feed,
Yet is not at the sight o'erjoy'd,
Because his pangs e'en theirs exceed.
The Son of Man in triumph passes
Down to Hell's wild and black morasses,
And there unfolds His majesty.
Hell cannot bear the bright array,
For, since her first created day.
Darkness alone e'er govern'd she.
She lay remote from ev'ry light
With torments fill'd in Chaos here;
God turn'd for ever from her sight
His radiant features' glory clear.
Within the realms she calls her own,
She sees the splendour of the Son,
His dreaded glories shining forth;
She sees Him clad in rolling thunder,
She sees the rocks all quake with wonder,
When God before her stands in wrath.
She sees He comes her Judge to be,
She feels the awful pangs inside her,
Herself to slay endeavours she,
But e'en this comfort is denied her.
Now looks she back, with pains untold,
Upon those happy times of old,
When those glories gave her joy;
When yet her heart revered the truth,
When her glad soul, in endless youth
And rapture dwelt, without alloy.
She calls to mind with madden'd thought
How over man her wiles prevail'd;
To take revenge on God she sought,
And feels the vengeance it entail'd.
God was made man, and came to earth.
Then Satan cried with fearful mirth:
"E'en He my victim now shall be!"
He sought to slay the Lord Most High,
The world's Creator now must die;
But, Satan, endless woe to thee!
Thou thought'st to overcome Him then,
Rejoicing in His suffering;
But he in triumph comes again
To bind thee: Death! where is thy sting?
Speak, Hell! where is thy victory?
Thy power destroy'd and scatter'd see!
Know'st thou not now the Highest's might?
See, Satan, see thy rule o'erthrown!
By thousand-varying pangs weigh'd down,
Thou dwell'st in dark and endless night.
As though by lightning struck thou liest,
No gleam of rapture far or wide;
In vain! no hope thou there decriest,--
For me alone Messiah died!
A howling rises through the air,
A trembling fills each dark vault there,
When Christ to Hell is seen to come.
She snarls with rage, but needs must cower
Before our mighty hero's power;
He signs--and Hell is straightway dumb.
Before his voice the thunders break,
On high His victor-banner blows;
E'en angels at His fury quake,
When Christ to the dread judgment goes.
Now speaks He, and His voice is thunder,
He speaks, the rocks are rent in sunder,
His breath is like devouring flames.
Thus speaks He: "Tremble, ye accurs'd!
He who from Eden hurl'd you erst,
Your kingdom's overthrow proclaims.
Look up! My children once were ye,
Your arms against Me then ye turn'd,
Ye fell, that ye might sinners be,
Ye've now the wages that ye earn'd.
"My greatest foeman from that day,
Ye led my dearest friends astray,--
As ye had fallen, man must fall.
To kill him evermore ye sought,
'They all shall die the death,' ye thought;
But howl! for Me I won them all.
For them alone did I descend,
For them pray'd, suffer'd, perish'd I.
Ye ne'er shall gain your wicked end;
Who trusts in Me shall never die.
"In endless chains here lie ye now,
Nothing can save you from the slough.
Not boldness, not regret for crime.
Lie, then, and writhe in brimstone fire!
'Twas ye yourselves drew down Mine ire,
Lie and lament throughout all time!
And also ye, whom I selected,
E'en ye forever I disown,
For ye My saving grace rejected
Ye murmur? blame yourselves alone!
"Ye might have lived with Me in bliss,
For I of yore had promis'd this;
Ye sinn'd, and all My precepts slighted
Wrapp'd in the sleep of sin ye dwelt,
Now is My fearful judgment felt,
By a just doom your guilt requited."--
Thus spake He, and a fearful storm
From Him proceeds, the lightnings glow,
The thunders seize each wicked form,
And hurl them in the gulf below.
The God-man closeth Hell's sad doors,
In all His majesty He soars
From those dark regions back to light.
He sitteth at the Father's side;
Oh, friends, what joy doth this betide!
For us, for us He still will fight!
The angels sacred quire around
Rejoice before the mighty Lord,
So that all creatures hear the sound:
"Zebaoth's God be aye ador'd!"
LEOPOLD, DUKE OF BRUNSWICK.
[Written on the occasion of the death, by drowning, of the
THOU wert forcibly seized by the hoary lord of the river,--
Holding thee, ever he shares with thee his streaming domain,
Calmly sleepest thou near his urn as it silently trickles,
Till thou to action art roused, waked by the swift-rolling flood.
Kindly be to the people, as when thou still wert a mortal,
Perfecting that as a god, which thou didst fail in, as man.
TO THE HUSBANDMAN.
SMOOTHLY and lightly the golden seed by the furrow is cover'd;
Yet will a deeper one, friend, cover thy bones at the last.
Joyously plough'd and sow'd! Here food all living is budding,
E'en from the side of the tomb Hope will not vanish away.
HERE where the roses blossom, where vines round the laurels are twining,
Where the turtle-dove calls, where the blithe cricket is heard,
Say, whose grave can this be, with life by all the Immortals
Beauteously planted and deck'd?--Here doth Anacreon sleep
Spring and summer and autumn rejoiced the thrice-happy minstrel,
And from the winter this mound kindly hath screen'd him at last.
SLUMBER and Sleep, two brethren ordain'd by the gods to their service,
Were by Prometheus implored, comfort to give to his race;
But though so light to the gods, too heavy for man was their burden,
We in their slumber find sleep, we in their sleep meet with death.
MEASURE OF TIME.
EROS, what mean'st thou by this? In each of thine hands is an hourglass!
What, oh thou frivolous god! twofold thy measure of time?
"Slowly run from the one, the hours of lovers when parted;
While through the other they rush swiftly, as soon as they meet."
WAKEN not Amor from sleep! The beauteous urchin still slumbers;
Go, and complete thou the task, that to the day is assign'd!
Thus doth the prudent mother with care turn time to her profit,
While her babe is asleep, for 'twill awake but too soon.
OH ye kindly nymphs, who dwell 'mongst the rocks and the thickets,
Grant unto each whatsoe'er he may in silence desire!
Comfort impart to the mourner, and give to the doubter instruction,
And let the lover rejoice, finding the bliss that he craves.
For from the gods ye received what they ever denied unto mortals,
Power to comfort and aid all who in you may confide.
THE CHOSEN CLIFF.
HERE in silence the lover fondly mused on his loved one;
Gladly he spake to me thus: "Be thou my witness, thou stone!
Yet thou must not be vainglorious, thou hast many companions;
Unto each rock on the plain, where I, the happy one, dwell,
Unto each tree of the wood that I cling to, as onward I ramble,
'Be thou a sign of my bliss!' shout I, and then 'tis ordain'd.
Yet to thee only I lend a voice, as a Muse from the people
Chooseth one for herself, kissing his lips as a friend."
THE CONSECRATED SPOT.
WHEN in the dance of the Nymphs, in the moonlight so holy assembled,
Mingle the Graces, down from Olympus in secret descending,
Here doth the minstrel hide, and list to their numbers enthralling,
Here doth he watch their silent dances' mysterious measure.
All that is glorious in Heaven, and all that the earth in her beauty
Ever hath brought into life, the dreamer awake sees before him;
All he repeats to the Muses, and lest the gods should be anger'd,
How to tell of secrets discreetly, the Muses instruct him.
WHEN Diogenes quietly sunn'd himself in his barrel,
When Calanus with joy leapt in the flame-breathing grave,
Oh, what noble lessons were those for the rash son of Philip,
Were not the lord of the world e'en for instruction too great!
THE UNEQUAL MARRIAGE,
EVEN this heavenly pair were unequally match'd when united:
Psyche grew older and wise, Amor remain'd still a child,
THOU dost complain of woman for changing from one to another?
Censure her not: for she seeks one who will constant remain.
WOULDST thou the blossoms of spring, as well as the fruits of the autumn,
Wouldst thou what charms and delights, wouldst thou what
Would thou include both Heaven and earth in one designation,
All that is needed is done, when I Sakontala name.
THE MUSE'S MIRROR.
EARLY one day, the Muse, when eagerly bent on adornment,
Follow'd a swift-running streamlet, the quietest nook by it seeking.
Quickly and noisily flowing, the changeful surface distorted
Ever her moving form; the goddess departed in anger.
Yet the stream call'd mockingly after her, saying: "What, truly!
Wilt thou not view, then, the truth, in my mirror so clearly depicted?"
But she already was far away, on the brink of the ocean,
In her figure rejoicing, and duly arranging her garland.
PHOEBUS AND HERMES.
DELOS' stately ruler, and Maia's son, the adroit one,
Warmly were striving, for both sought the great prize to obtain.
Hermes the lyre demanded, the lyre was claim'd by Apollo,
Yet were the hearts of the foes fruitlessly nourish'd by hope.
For on a sudden Ares burst in, with fury decisive,
Dashing in twain the gold toy, brandishing wildly his sword.
Hermes, malicious one, laughed beyond measure; yet deep-seated sorrow
Seized upon Phoebus's heart, seized on the heart of each Muse.
THE NEW AMOR.
AMOR, not the child, the youthful lover of Psyche,
Look'd round Olympus one day, boldly, to triumph inured;
There he espied a goddess, the fairest amongst the immortals,--
Venus Urania she,--straight was his passion inflamed.
Even the holy one powerless proved, alas! 'gainst his wooing,--
Tightly embraced in his arm, held her the daring one fast.
Then from their union arose a new, a more beauteous Amor,
Who from his father his wit, grace from his mother derives.
Ever thou'lt find him join'd in the kindly Muses' communion,
And his charm-laden bolt foundeth the love of the arts.
KLOPSTOCK would lead us away from Pindus; no longer for laurel
May we be eager--the homely acorn alone must content us;
Yet he himself his more-than-epic crusade is conducting
High on Golgotha's summit, that foreign gods he may honour!
Yet, on what hill he prefers, let him gather the angels together,
Suffer deserted disciples to weep o'er the grave of the just one:
There where a hero and saint hath died, where a bard breath'd his numbers,
Both for our life and our death an ensample of courage resplendent
And of the loftiest human worth to bequeath,--ev'ry nation
There will joyously kneel in devotion ecstatic, revering
Thorn and laurel garland, and all its charms and its tortures.
THE SWISS ALPS.
YESTERDAY brown was still thy head, as the locks of my loved one,
Whose sweet image so dear silently beckons afar.
Silver-grey is the early snow to-day on thy summit,
Through the tempestuous night streaming fast over thy brow.
Youth, alas, throughout life as closely to age is united
As, in some changeable dream, yesterday blends with to-day.
Uri, October 7th, 1797.
CHORDS are touch'd by Apollo,--the death-laden bow, too, he bendeth;
While he the shepherdess charms, Python he lays in the dust.
WHAT is merciful censure? To make thy faults appear smaller?
May be to veil them? No, no! O'er them to raise thee on high!
DEMOCRATIC food soon cloys on the multitude's stomach;
But I'll wager, ere long, other thou'lt give them instead.
WHAT in France has pass'd by, the Germans continue to practise,
For the proudest of men flatters the people and fawns.
WHO is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others,
And in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own.
NOT in the morning alone, not only at mid-day he charmeth;
Even at setting, the sun is still the same glorious planet.
(Written in 1790.)
URN and sarcophagus erst were with life adorn'd by the heathen
Fauns are dancing around, while with the Bacchanal troop
Chequerd circles they trace; and the goat-footed, puffy-cheekd player
Wildly produceth hoarse tones out of the clamorous horn.
Cymbals and drums resound; we see and we hear, too, the marble.
Fluttering bird! oh how sweet tastes the ripe fruit to thy bill!
Noise there is none to disturb thee, still less to scare away Amor,
Who, in the midst of the throng, learns to delight in his torch.
Thus doth fullness overcome death; and the ashes there cover'd
Seem, in that silent domain, still to be gladdend with life.
Thus may the minstrel's sarcophagus be hereafter surrounded
With such a scroll, which himself richly with life has adorn'd.
CLASP'D in my arms for ever eagerly hold I my mistress,
Ever my panting heart throbs wildly against her dear breast,
And on her knees forever is leaning my head, while I'm gazing
Now on her sweet-smiling mouth, now on her bright sparkling eyes.
"Oh thou effeminate!" spake one, "and thus, then, thy days thou
Ah, they in sorrow are spent. List while I tell thee my tale:
Yes! I have left my only joy in life far behind me,
Twenty long days hath my car borne me away from her sight.
Vettrini defy me, while crafty chamberlains flatter,
And the sly Valet de place thinks but of lies and deceit.
If I attempt to escape, the Postmaster fastens upon me,
Postboys the upper hand get, custom-house duties enrage.
"Truly, I can't understand thee! thou talkest enigmas! thou seemest
Wrapp'd in a blissful repose, glad as Rinaldo of yore:
Ah, I myself understand full well; 'tis my body that travels,
And 'tis my spirit that rests still in my mistress's arms.
I WOULD liken this gondola unto the soft-rocking cradle,
And the chest on its deck seems a vast coffin to be.
Yes! 'tween the cradle and coffin, we totter and waver for ever
On the mighty canal, careless our lifetime is spent.
WHY are the people thus busily moving? For food they are seeking,
Children they fain would beget, feeding them well as they can.
Traveller, mark this well, and when thou art home, do thou likewise!
More can no mortal effect, work with what ardour he will.
I WOULD compare to the land this anvil, its lord to the hammer,
And to the people the plate, which in the middle is bent.
Sad is the poor tin-plate's lot, when the blows are but given at random:
Ne'er will the kettle be made, while they uncertainly fall.
WHAT is the life of a man? Yet thousands are ever accustom'd
Freely to talk about man,--what he has done, too, and how.
Even less is a poem; yet thousands read and enjoy it,
Thousands abuse it.--My friend, live and continue to rhyme!
MERRY'S the trade of a poet; but somewhat a dear one, I fear me
For, as my book grows apace, all of my sequins I lose.
Is' thou'rt in earnest, no longer delay, but render me happy;
Art thou in jest? Ah, sweet love! time for all jesting is past.
ART thou, then, vex'd at my silence? What shall I speak of? Thou markest
Neither my sorrowful sigh, nor my soft eloquent look.
Only one goddess is able the seal of my lips to unloosen,--
When by Aurora I'm found, slumbering calm on thy breast.
Ah, then my hymn in the ears of the earliest gods shall be chaunted,
As the Memnonian form breath'd forth sweet secrets in song.
IN the twilight of morning to climb to the top of the mountain,--
Thee to salute, kindly star, earliest herald of day,--
And to await, with impatience, the gaze of the ruler of heaven,--
Youthful delight, oh oft lur'st thou me out in the night!
Oh ye heralds of day, ye heavenly eyes of my mistress,
Now ye appear, and the sun evermore riseth too soon.
THOU art amazed, and dost point to the ocean. It seems to be burning,
Flame-crested billows in play dart round our night-moving bark.
Me it astonisheth not,--of the ocean was born Aphrodite,--
Did not a flame, too, proceed from her for us, in her son?
GLEAMING the ocean appear'd, the beauteous billows were smiling,
While a fresh, favouring wind, filling the sails, drove us on.
Free was my bosom from yearning; yet soon my languishing glances
Turn'd themselves backward in haste, seeking the snow-cover'd hills.
Treasures unnumber'd are southwards lying. Yet one to the northwards
Draws me resistlessly back, like the strong magnet in force.
SPACIOUS and fair is the world; yet oh! how I thank the kind heavens
That I a garden possess, small though it be, yet mine own.
One which enticeth me homewards; why should a gardener wander?
Honour and pleasure he finds, when to his garden he looks.
AH, my maiden is going! she mounts the vessel! My monarch,
AEolus! potentate dread! keep ev'ry storm far away!
"Oh, thou fool!" cried the god:"ne'er fear the blustering tempest;
When Love flutters his wings, then mayst thou dread the soft breeze."
[The Roman Elegies were written in the same year as the Venetian
SPEAK, ye stones, I entreat! Oh speak, ye palaces lofty!
Utter a word, oh ye streets! Wilt thou not, Genius, awake?
All that thy sacred walls, eternal Rome, hold within them
Teemeth with life; but to me, all is still silent and dead.
Oh, who will whisper unto me,--when shall I see at the casement
That one beauteous form, which, while it scorcheth, revives?
Can I as yet not discern the road, on which I for ever
To her and from her shall go, heeding not time as it flies?
Still do I mark the churches, palaces, ruins, and columns,
As a wise traveller should, would he his journey improve.
Soon all this will be past; and then will there be but one temple,
Amor's temple alone, where the Initiate may go.
Thou art indeed a world, oh Rome; and yet, were Love absent,
Then would the world be no world, then would e'en Rome be no Rome.
Do not repent, mine own love, that thou so soon didst surrender
Trust me, I deem thee not bold! reverence only I feel.
Manifold workings the darts of Amor possess; some but scratching,
Yet with insidious effect, poison the bosom for years.
Others mightily feather'd, with fresh and newly-born sharpness
Pierce to the innermost bone, kindle the blood into flame.
In the heroical times, when loved each god and each goddess,
Longing attended on sight; then with fruition was bless'd.
Think'st thou the goddess had long been thinking of love and its pleasures
When she, in Ida's retreats, own'd to Anchises her flame?
Had but Luna delayd to kiss the beautiful sleeper,
Oh, by Aurora, ere long, he had in envy been rous'd!
Hero Leander espied at the noisy feast, and the lover
Hotly and nimbly, ere long, plunged in the night-cover'd flood.
Rhea Silvia, virgin princess, roam'd near the Tiber,
Seeking there water to draw, when by the god she was seiz'd.
Thus were the sons of Mars begotten! The twins did a she-wolf
Suckle and nurture,--and Rome call'd herself queen of the world,
ALEXANDER, and Caesar, and Henry, and Fred'rick, the mighty,
On me would gladly bestow half of the glory they earn'd,
Could I but grant unto each one night on the couch where I'm lying;
But they, by Orcus's night, sternly, alas! are held down.
Therefore rejoice, oh thou living one, blest in thy love-lighted homestead,
Ere the dark Lethe's sad wave wetteth thy fugitive foot.
THESE few leaves, oh ye Graces, a bard presents, in your honour,
On your altar so pure, adding sweet rosebuds as well,
And he does it with hope. The artist is glad in his workshop,
When a Pantheon it seems round him for ever to bring.
Jupiter knits his godlike brow,--her's, Juno up-lifteth;
Phoebus strides on before, shaking his curly-lock'd head
Calmly and drily Minerva looks down, and Hermes the light one,
Turneth his glances aside, roguish and tender at once.
But tow'rds Bacchus, the yielding, the dreaming, raiseth Cythere
Looks both longing and sweet, e'en in the marble yet moist.
Of his embraces she thinks with delight, and seems to be asking
"Should not our glorious son take up his place by our side?"
AMOR is ever a rogue, and all who believe him are cheated!
To me the hypocrite came: "Trust me, I pray thee, this once.
Honest is now my intent,--with grateful thanks I acknowledge
That thou thy life and thy works hast to my worship ordain'd.
See, I have follow'd thee thither, to Rome, with kindly intention,
Hoping to give thee mine aid, e'en in the foreigner's land.
Every trav'ller complains that the quarters he meets with are wretched
Happily lodged, though, is he, who is by Amor receiv'd.
Thou dost observe the ruins of ancient buildings with wonder,
Thoughtfully wandering on, over each time-hallow'd spot.
Thou dost honour still more the worthy relics created
By the few artists--whom I loved in their studios to seek.
I 'twas fashion'd those forms! thy pardon,--I boast not at present;
Presently thou shalt confess, that what I tell thee is true.
Now that thou serv'st me more idly, where are the beauteous figures,
Where are the colours, the light, which thy creations once fill'd?
Hast thou a mind again to form? The school of the Grecians
Still remains open, my friend; years have not barr'd up its doors.
I, the teacher, am ever young, and love all the youthful,
Love not the subtle and old; Mother, observe what I say!
Still was new the Antique, when yonder blest ones were living;
Happily live,--and, in thee, ages long vanish'd will live!
Food for song, where hop'st thou to find it? I only can give it,
And a more excellent style, love, and love only can teach."
Thus did the Sophist discourse. What mortal, alas! could resist him?
And when a master commands, I have been train'd to obey.
Now he deceitfully keeps his word, gives food for my numbers,
But, while he does so, alas! robs me of time, strength, and mind.
Looks, and pressure of hands, and words of kindness, and kisses,
Syllables teeming with thought, by a fond pair are exchang'd.
Then becomes whispering, talk,--and stamm'ring, a language enchanting;
Free from all prosody's rules, dies such a hymn on the ear.
Thee, Aurora, I used to own as the friend of the Muses;
Hath, then, Amor the rogue cheated, Aurora, e'en thee?
Thou dost appear to me now as his friend, and again dost awake me
Unto a day of delight, while at his altar I kneel.
All her locks I find on my bosom, her head is reposing,
Pressing with softness the arm, which round her neck is entwin'd;
Oh! what a joyous awak'ning, ye hours so peaceful, succeeded,
Monument sweet of the bliss which had first rock'd us to sleep
In her slumber she moves, and sinks, while her face is averted,
Far on the breadth of the couch, leaving her hand still in mine
Heartfelt love unites us for ever, and yearnings unsullied,
And our cravings alone claim for themselves the exchange.
One faint touch of the hand, and her eyes so heavenly see I
Once more open. Ah, no! let me still look on that form!
Closed still remain! Ye make me confused and drunken, ye rob me
Far too soon of the bliss pure contemplation affords.
Mighty, indeed, are these figures! these limbs, how gracefully rounded!
Theseus, could'st thou e'er fly, whilst Ariadne thus slept?
Only one single kiss on these lips! Oh, Theseus, now leave us!
Gaze on her eyes! she awakes--Firmly she holds thee embrac'd
ALEXIS AND DORA.
[This beautiful poem was first published in Schiller's Horen.]
FARTHER and farther away, alas! at each moment the vessel
Hastens, as onward it glides, cleaving the foam-cover'd flood!
Long is the track plough'd up by the keel where dolphins are sporting,
Following fast in its rear, while it seems flying pursuit.
All forebodes a prosperous voyage; the sailor with calmness
Leans 'gainst the sail, which alone all that is needed performs.
Forward presses the heart of each seamen, like colours and streamers;
Backward one only is seen, mournfully fix'd near the mast,
While on the blue tinged mountains, which fast are receding, he gazeth,
And as they sink in the sea, joy from his bosom departs.
Vanish'd from thee, too, oh Dora, is now the vessel that robs thee
Of thine Alexis, thy friend,--ah, thy betrothed as well!
Thou, too, art after me gazing in vain. Our hearts are still throbbing,
Though, for each other, yet ah! 'gainst one another no more.
Oh, thou single moment, wherein I found life! thou outweighest
Every day which had else coldly from memory fled.
'Twas in that moment alone, the last, that upon me descended
Life, such as deities grant, though thou perceived'st it not.
Phoebus, in vain with thy rays dost thou clothe the ether in glory:
Thine all-brightening day hateful alone is to me.
Into myself I retreat for shelter, and there, in the silence,
Strive to recover the time when she appear'd with each day.
Was it possible beauty like this to see, and not feel it?
Work'd not those heavenly charms e'en on a mind dull as thine?
Blame not thyself, unhappy one! Oft doth the bard an enigma
Thus propose to the throng, skillfully hidden in words.
Each one enjoys the strange commingling of images graceful,
Yet still is wanting the word which will discover the sense.
When at length it is found, the heart of each hearer is gladden'd,
And in the poem he sees meaning of twofold delight.
Wherefore so late didst thou remove the bandage, oh Amor,
Which thou hadst placed o'er mine eyes,--wherefore remove it so late?
Long did the vessel, when laden, lie waiting for favouring breezes,
'Till in kindness the wind blew from the land o'er the sea.
Vacant times of youth! and vacant dreams of the future!
Ye all vanish, and nought, saving the moment, remains.
Yes! it remains,--my joy still remains! I hold thee; my Dora,
And thine image alone, Dora, by hope is disclos'd.
Oft have I seen thee go, with modesty clad, to the temple,
While thy mother so dear solemnly went by thy side.
Eager and nimble thou wert, in bearing thy fruit to the market,
Boldly the pail from the well didst thou sustain on thy head.
Then was reveal'd thy neck, then seen thy shoulders so beauteous,
Then, before all things, the grace filling thy motions was seen.
Oft have I fear'd that the pitcher perchance was in danger of falling,
Yet it ever remain'd firm on the circular cloth.
Thus, fair neighbour, yes, thus I oft was wont to observe thee,
As on the stars I might gaze, as I might gaze on the moon,
Glad indeed at the sight, yet feeling within my calm bosom
Not the remotest desire ever to call them mine own.
Years thus fleeted away! Although our houses were only
Twenty paces apart, yet I thy threshold ne'er cross'd.
Now by the fearful flood are we parted! Thou liest to Heaven,
Billow! thy beautiful blue seems to me dark as the night.
All were now in movement; a boy to the house of my father
Ran at full speed and exclaim'd: "Hasten thee quick to the strand
Hoisted the sail is already, e'en now in the wind it is flutt'ring,
While the anchor they weigh, heaving it up from the sand;
Come, Alexis, oh come!"--My worthy stout-hearted father
Press'd, with a blessing, his hand down on my curly-lock'd head,
While my mother carefully reach'd me a newly-made bundle,
"Happy mayst thou return!" cried they--" both happy and rich!"
Then I sprang away, and under my arm held the bundle,
Running along by the wall. Standing I found thee hard by,
At the door of thy garden. Thou smilingly saidst then "Alexis!
Say, are yon boisterous crew going thy comrades to be?
Foreign coasts will thou visit, and precious merchandise purchase,
Ornaments meet for the rich matrons who dwell in the town.
Bring me, also, I praythee, a light chain; gladly I'll pay thee,
Oft have I wish'd to possess some stich a trinket as that."
There I remain'd, and ask'd, as merchants are wont, with precision
After the form and the weight which thy commission should have.
Modest, indeed, was the price thou didst name! I meanwhile was gazing
On thy neck which deserv'd ornaments worn but by queens.
Loudly now rose the cry from the ship; then kindly thou spakest
"Take, I entreat thee, some fruit out of the garden, my friend
Take the ripest oranges, figs of the whitest; the ocean
Beareth no fruit, and, in truth, 'tis not produced by each land."
So I entered in. Thou pluckedst the fruit from the branches,
And the burden of gold was in thine apron upheld.
Oft did I cry, Enough! But fairer fruits were still falling
Into the hand as I spake, ever obeying thy touch.
Presently didst thou reached the arbour; there lay there a basket,
Sweet blooming myrtle trees wav'd, as we drew nigh, o'er our heads.
Then thou began'st to arrange the fruit with skill and in silence:
First the orange, which lay heavy as though 'twere of gold,
Then the yielding fig, by the slightest pressure disfigur'd,
And with myrtle the gift soon was both cover'd and grac'd.
But I raised it not up. I stood. Our eyes met together,
And my eyesight grew dim, seeming obscured by a film,
Soon I felt thy bosom on mine! Mine arm was soon twining
Round thy beautiful form; thousand times kiss'd I thy neck.
On my shoulder sank thy head; thy fair arms, encircling,
Soon rendered perfect the ring knitting the rapturous pair.
Amor's hands I felt: he press'd us together with ardour,
And, from the firmament clear, thrice did it thunder; then tears
Stream'd from mine eyes in torrents, thou weptest, I wept, both were weeping,
And, 'mid our sorrow and bliss, even the world seem'd to die.
Louder and louder they calI'd from the strand; my feet would no longer
Bear my weight, and I cried:--"Dora! and art thou not mine?"
"Thine forever!" thou gently didst say. Then the tears we were shedding
Seem'd to be wiped from our eyes, as by the breath of a god.
Nearer was heard the cry "Alexis!" The stripling who sought me
Suddenly peep'd through the door. How he the basket snatch'd up!
How he urged me away! how press'd I thy hand! Wouldst thou ask me
How the vessel I reach'd? Drunken I seem'd, well I know.
Drunken my shipmates believed me, and so had pity upon me;
And as the breeze drove us on, distance the town soon obscur'd.
"Thine for ever!" thou, Dora, didst murmur; it fell on my senses
With the thunder of Zeus! while by the thunderer's throne
Stood his daughter, the Goddess of Love; the Graces were standing
Close by her side! so the bond beareth an impress divine!
Oh then hasten, thou ship, with every favouring zephyr!
Onward, thou powerful keel, cleaving the waves as they foam!
Bring me unto the foreign harbour, so that the goldsmith
May in his workshop prepare straightway the heavenly pledge!
Ay, of a truth, the chain shall indeed be a chain, oh my Dora!
Nine times encircling thy neck, loosely around it entwin'd
Other and manifold trinkets I'll buy thee; gold-mounted bracelets,
Richly and skillfully wrought, also shall grace thy fair hand.
There shall the ruby and emerald vie, the sapphire so lovely
Be to the jacinth oppos'd, seeming its foil; while the gold
Holds all the jewels together, in beauteous union commingled.
Oh, how the bridegroom exults, when he adorns his betroth'd!
Pearls if I see, of thee they remind me; each ring that is shown me
Brings to my mind thy fair hand's graceful and tapering form.
I will barter and buy; the fairest of all shalt thou choose thee,
Joyously would I devote all of the cargo to thee.
Yet not trinkets and jewels alone is thy loved one procuring;
With them he brings thee whate'er gives to a housewife delight.
Fine and woollen coverlets, wrought with an edging of purple,
Fit for a couch where we both, lovingly, gently may rest;
Costly pieces of linen. Thou sittest and sewest, and clothest
Me, and thyself, and, perchance, even a third with it too.
Visions of hope, deceive ye my heart! Ye kindly Immortals,
Soften this fierce-raging flame, wildly pervading my breast!
Yet how I long to feel them again, those rapturous torments.
When, in their stead, care draws nigh, coldly and fearfully calm.
Neither the Furies' torch, nor the hounds of hell with their harking
Awe the delinquent so much, down in the plains of despair,
As by the motionless spectre I'm awed, that shows me the fair one
Far away: of a truth, open the garden-door stands!
And another one cometh! For him the fruit, too, is falling,
And for him, also, the fig strengthening honey doth yield!
Doth she entice him as well to the arbour? He follows? Oh, make me
Blind, ye Immortals! efface visions like this from my mind!
Yes, she is but a maiden! And she who to one doth so quickly
Yield, to another ere long, doubtless, Will turn herself round.
Smile not, Zeus, for this once, at an oath so cruelly broken!
Thunder more fearfully! Strike!--Stay--thy fierce lightnings withhold!
Hurl at me thy quivering bolt! In the darkness of midnight
Strike with thy lightning this mast, make it a pitiful wreck!
Scatter the planks all around, and give to the boisterous billows
All these wares, and let me be to the dolphins a prey
Now, ye Muses, enough! In vain would ye strive to depicture
How, in a love-laden breast, anguish alternates with bliss.
Ye cannot heal the wounds, it is true, that love hath inflicted;
Yet from you only proceeds, kindly ones, comfort and balm.
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