"Incense is hut a tribute for the gods,--
To mortals 'tis but poison.
THE smoke that from thine altar blows,
Can it the gods offend?
For I observe thou hold'st thy nose--
Pray what does this portend?
Mankind deem incense to excel
Each other earthly thing,
So he that cannot bear its smell,
No incense e'er should bring.
With unmoved face by thee at least
To dolls is homage given;
If not obstructed by the priest,
The scent mounts up to heaven.
CONFLICT OF WIT AND BEAUTY.
SIR Wit, who is so much esteem'd,
And who is worthy of all honour,
Saw Beauty his superior deem'd
By folks who loved to gaze upon her;
At this he was most sorely vex'd.
Then came Sir Breath (long known as fit
To represent the cause of wit),
Beginning, rudely, I admit,
To treat the lady with a text.
To this she hearken'd not at all,
But hasten'd to his principal:
"None are so wise, they say, as you,--
Is not the world enough for two?
If you are obstinate, good-bye!
If wise, to love me you will try,
For be assured the world can ne'er
Give birth to a more handsome pair.
FAIR daughters were by Beauty rear'd,
Wit had but dull sons for his lot;
So for a season it appear'd
Beauty was constant, Wit was not.
But Wit's a native of the soil,
So he return'd, work'd, strove amain,
And found--sweet guerdon for his toil!--
Beauty to quicken him again.
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.
Top Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Poems