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THE WANDERER.

Written by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Biography
 | Quotes (340) |
 [Published in the Gottingen Musen Almanach, 
having been written "to express his feelings and caprices" after 
his separation from Frederica.
] WANDERER.
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.
WOMAN.
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? WANDERER.
From the town no goods I bring.
Cool is now the evening; Show to me the fountain 'Whence thou drinkest, Woman young and kind! WOMAN.
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.
WANDERER.
Signs of man's arranging hand See I 'mid the trees! Not by thee these stones were join'd, Nature, who so freely scatterest! WOMAN.
Up, still up! WANDERER.
Lo, a mossy architrave is here! I discern thee, fashioning spirit! On the stone thou hast impress'd thy seal.
WOMAN.
Onward, stranger! WANDERER.
Over an inscription am I treading! 'Tis effaced! Ye are seen no longer, Words so deeply graven, Who your master's true devotion Should have shown to thousand grandsons! WOMAN.
At these stones, why Start'st thou, stranger? Many stones are lying yonder Round my cottage.
WANDERER.
Yonder? WOMAN.
Through the thicket, Turning to the left, Here! WANDERER.
Ye Muses and ye Graces! WOMAN.
This, then, is my cottage.
WANDERER.
'Tis a ruin'd temple! * WOMAN.
Just below it, see, Springs the fountain Whence I drink.
WANDERER.
Thou dost hover O'er thy grave, all glowing, Genius! while upon thee Hath thy master-piece Fallen crumbling, Thou Immortal One! WOMAN.
Stay, a cup I'll fetch thee Whence to drink.
WANDERER.
Ivy circles thy slender Form so graceful and godlike.
How ye rise on high From the ruins, Column-pair And thou, their lonely sister yonder,-- How thou, Dusky moss upon thy sacred head,-- Lookest down in mournful majesty On thy brethren's figures Lying scatter'd 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? WOMAN.
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! WANDERER.
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 Fairest charm, 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! WOMAN.
God bless him!--Is he sleeping still? To the fresh draught I nought can add, Saving a crust of bread for thee to eat.
WANDERER.
I thank thee well.
How fair the verdure all around! How green! WOMAN.
My husband soon Will home return From labour.
Tarry, tarry, man, And with us eat our evening meal.
WANDERER.
Is't here ye dwell? WOMAN.
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! Sweet rogue! WANDERER.
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! WOMAN.
Thou wilt not stay, then? WANDERER.
May God preserve thee, And bless thy boy! WOMAN.
A happy journey! WANDERER.
Whither conducts the path Across yon hill? WOMAN.
To Cuma.
WANDERER.
How far from hence? WOMAN.
'Tis full three miles.
WANDERER.
Farewell! Oh Nature, guide me on my way! The wandering stranger guide, Who o'er the tombs Of holy bygone times Is passing, 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 At evening, Illumined by the setting sun, Let me embrace a wife like this, Her infant in her arms! 1772.
* 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) ".
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With mournful majesiy A heap of solitary ruins lie, Half sepulchred in dust, the bankrupt heir To prodigal antiquity.
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