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BALLAD OF THE BANISHED AND RETURNING COUNT.

Written by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Biography
 | Quotes (340) |
 [Goethe began to write an opera called Lowenstuhl, 
founded upon the old tradition which forms the subject of this Ballad, 
but he never carried out his design.
] OH, enter old minstrel, thou time-honour'd one! We children are here in the hall all alone, The portals we straightway will bar.
Our mother is praying, our father is gone To the forest, on wolves to make war.
Oh sing us a ballad, the tale then repeat, 'Till brother and I learn it right; We long have been hoping a minstrel to meet, For children hear tales with delight.
"At midnight, when darkness its fearful veil weaves, His lofty and stately old castle he leaves, But first he has buried his wealth.
What figure is that in his arms one perceives, As the Count quits the gateway by stealth? O'er what is his mantle so hastily thrown? What bears he along in his flight? A daughter it is, and she gently sleeps on"-- The children they hear with delight.
"The morning soon glimmers.
the world is so wide, In valleys and forests a home is supplied, The bard in each village is cheer'd.
Thus lives he and wanders, while years onward glide, And longer still waxes his beard; But the maiden so fair in his arms grows amain, 'Neath her star all-protecting and bright, Secured in the mantle from wind and from rain--" The children they hear with delight.
"And year upon year with swift footstep now steals, The mantle it fades, many rents it reveals, The maiden no more it can hold.
The father he sees her, what rapture he feels! His joy cannot now be controll'd.
How worthy she seems of the race whence she springs, How noble and fair to the sight! What wealth to her dearly-loved father she brings!"-- The children they hear with delight.
"Then comes there a princely knight galloping by, She stretches her hand out, as soon as he's nigh, But alms he refuses to give.
He seizes her hand, with a smile in his eye: 'Thou art mine!' he exclaims, 'while I live!' 'When thou know'st,' cries the old man, 'the treasure that's there, A princess thou'lt make her of right; Betroth'd be she now, on this spot green and fair--'" The children they hear with delight.
"So she's bless'd by the priest on the hallowed place, And she goes with a smiling but sorrowful face, From her father she fain would not part.
The old man still wanders with ne'er-changing pace, He covers with joy his sad heart.
So I think of my daughter, as years pass away, And my grandchildren far from my sight; I bless them by night, and I bless them by day"-- The children they hear with delight.
He blesses the children: a knocking they hear, The father it is! They spring forward in fear, The old man they cannot conceal-- "Thou beggar, wouldst lure, then, my children so dear? Straight seize him, ye vassals of steel! To the dungeon most deep, with the fool-hardy knave!" The mother from far hears the fight; She hastens with flatt'ring entreaty to crave-- The children they hear with delight.
The vassals they suffer the Bard to stand there, And mother and children implore him to spare, The proud prince would stifle his ire, 'Till driven to fury at hearing their prayer, His smouldering anger takes fire: "Thou pitiful race! Oh, thou beggarly crew! Eclipsing my star, once so bright! Ye'll bring me destruction, ye sorely shall rue!" The children they hear with affright.
The old man still stands there with dignified mien, The vassals of steel quake before him, I ween, The Count's fury increases in power; "My wedded existence a curse long has been, And these are the fruits from that flower! 'Tis ever denied, and the saying is true, That to wed with the base-born is right; The beggar has borne me a beggarly crew,--" The children they hear with affright.
"If the husband, the father, thus treats you with scorn, If the holiest bonds by him rashly are torn, Then come to your father--to me! The beggar may gladden life's pathway forlorn, Though aged and weak he may be.
This castle is mine! thou hast made it thy prey, Thy people 'twas put me to flight; The tokens I bear will confirm what I say"-- The children they hear with delight.
"The king who erst govern'd returneth again, And restores to the Faithful the goods that were ta'en, I'll unseal all my treasures the while; The laws shall be gentle, and peaceful the reign"-- The old man thus cries with a smile-- "Take courage, my son! all hath turned out for good, And each hath a star that is bright, Those the princess hath borne thee are princely in blood,"-- The children thy hear with delight.
1816.



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