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THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PLANTS.

Written by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Biography
 | Quotes (340) |
 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.

 1797.



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