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by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

THE CHRISTMAS-BOX.

 THIS box, mine own sweet darling, thou wilt find

With many a varied sweetmeat's form supplied;

The fruits are they of holy Christmas tide,
But baked indeed, for children's use design'd.

I'd fain, in speeches sweet with skill combin'd,

Poetic sweetmeats for the feast provide;

But why in such frivolities confide?
Perish the thought, with flattery to blind!

One sweet thing there is still, that from within,

Within us speaks,--that may be felt afar;

 This may be wafted o'er to thee alone.

If thou a recollection fond canst win,

As if with pleasure gleam'd each well-known star,

 The smallest gift thou never wilt disown.

 1807.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

IN SUMMER.

 How plain and height
With dewdrops are bright!
How pearls have crown'd
The plants all around!
How sighs the breeze
Thro' thicket and trees!
How loudly in the sun's clear rays
The sweet birds carol forth their lays!

But, ah! above,
Where saw I my love,
Within her room,
Small, mantled in gloom,
Enclosed around,
Where sunlight was drown'd,
How little there was earth to me,
With all its beauteous majesty!

1776.*


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

FROM THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER.

 [Prefixed to the second edition.]

EV'RY youth for love's sweet portion sighs,

Ev'ry maiden sighs to win man's love;
Why, alas! should bitter pain arise

From the noblest passion that we prove?

Thou, kind soul, bewailest, lov'st him well,

From disgrace his memory's saved by thee;
Lo, his spirit signs from out its cell:

BE A MAN, NOR SEEK TO FOLLOW ME.

 1775.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

THE MOUNTAIN VILLAGE.

 "THE mountain village was destroy'd;
But see how soon is fill'd the void!
Shingles and boards, as by magic arise,
The babe in his cradle and swaddling-clothes lies;
How blest to trust to God's protection!"

Behold a wooden new erection,
So that, if sparks and wind but choose,
God's self at such a game must lose!

 1821.*


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

THE GOD AND THE BAYADERE.

 AN INDIAN LEGEND.

[This very fine Ballad was also first given in the Horen.]
(MAHADEVA is one of the numerous names of Seeva, the destroyer,--
the great god of the Brahmins.)


MAHADEVA,* Lord of earth

For the sixth time comes below,

As a man of mortal birth,--

Like him, feeling joy and woe.

Hither loves he to repair,

And his power behind to leave;

If to punish or to spare,

Men as man he'd fain perceive.
And when he the town as a trav'ller hath seen,
Observing the mighty, regarding the mean,
He quits it, to go on his journey, at eve.


He was leaving now the place,

When an outcast met his eyes,--

Fair in form, with painted face,--

Where some straggling dwellings rise.

"Maiden, hail!"--"Thanks! welcome here!

Stay!--I'll join thee in the road.'

"Who art thou?"--"A Bayadere,

And this house is love's abode."
The cymbal she hastens to play for the dance,
Well skill'd in its mazes the sight to entrance,
Then by her with grace is the nosegay bestow'd.



Then she draws him, as in play,

O'er the threshold eagerly:

"Beauteous stranger, light as day

Thou shalt soon this cottage see.

I'll refresh thee, if thou'rt tired,

And will bathe thy weary feet;

Take whate'er by thee's desired,

Toying, rest, or rapture sweet."--
She busily seeks his feign'd suff'rings to ease;
Then smiles the Immortal; with pleasure he sees
That with kindness a heart so corrupted can beat.


And he makes her act the part

Of a slave; he's straight obey'd.

What at first had been but art,

Soon is nature in the maid.

By degrees the fruit we find,

Where the buds at first obtain;

When obedience fills the mind,

Love will never far remain.
But sharper and sharper the maiden to prove,
The Discerner of all things below and above,
Feigns pleasure, and horror, and maddening pain.


And her painted cheeks he kisses,

And his vows her heart enthrall;

Feeling love's sharp pangs and blisses,

Soon her tears begin to fall.

At his feet she now must sink,

Not with thoughts of lust or gain,--

And her slender members shrink,

And devoid of power remain.
And so the bright hours with gladness prepare
Their dark, pleasing veil of a texture so fair,
And over the couch softly, tranquilly reign.


Late she falls asleep, thus bless'd,--

Early wakes, her slumbers fled,

And she finds the much-loved guest

On her bosom lying dead.

Screaming falls she on him there,

But, alas, too late to save!

And his rigid limbs they bear

Straightway to their fiery grave.
Then hears she the priests and the funeral song,
Then madly she runs, and she severs the throng:
"Why press tow'rd the pile thus? Why scream thus, and rave?"


Then she sinks beside his bier,

And her screams through air resound:

"I must seek my spouse so dear,

E'en if in the grave he's bound.

Shall those limbs of grace divine

Fall to ashes in my sight?

Mine he was! Yes, only mine!

Ah, one single blissful night!"
The priests chaunt in chorus: "We bear out the old,
When long they've been weary, and late they've grown cold:
We bear out the young, too, so thoughtless and light.


"To thy priests' commands give ear!

This one was thy husband ne'er;

Live still as a Bayadere,

And no duty thou need'st share.

To deaths silent realms from life,

None but shades attend man's frame,

With the husband, none but wife,--

That is duty, that is fame.
Ye trumpets, your sacred lament haste to raise
Oh, welcome, ye gods, the bright lustre of days!
Oh, welcome to heaven the youth from the flame!"


Thus increased her torments are

By the cruel, heartless quire;

And with arms outstretching far

Leaps she on the glowing pyre.

But the youth divine outsprings

From the flame with heav'nly grace,

And on high his flight he wings,

While his arms his love embrace.
In the sinner repentant the Godhead feels joy;
Immortals delight thus their might to employ.
Lost children to raise to a heavenly place.

1797.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

THE CONVERT.

 As at sunset I was straying

Silently the wood along,
Damon on his flute was playing,

And the rocks gave back the song,
So la, Ia! &c.

Softly tow'rds him then he drew me;

Sweet each kiss he gave me then!
And I said, "Play once more to me!"

And he kindly play'd again,
So la, la! &c.

All my peace for aye has fleeted,

All my happiness has flown;
Yet my ears are ever greeted

With that olden, blissful tone,
So la, la! &c.

1791.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

FINNISH SONG.

 IF the loved one, the well-known one,
Should return as he departed,
On his lips would ring my kisses,
Though the wolf's blood might have dyed them;
And a hearty grasp I'd give him,
Though his finger-ends were serpents.

Wind! Oh, if thou hadst but reason,
Word for word in turns thou'dst carry,
E'en though some perchance might perish
'Tween two lovers so far distant.

All choice morsels I'd dispense with,
Table-flesh of priests neglect too,
Sooner than renounce my lover,
Whom, in Summer having vanquish'd,
I in Winter tamed still longer.

1810.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

TO LIDA.

 THE only one whom, Lida, thou canst love,

Thou claim'st, and rightly claim'st, for only thee;
He too is wholly thine; since doomed to rove

Far from thee, in life's turmoils nought I see
Save a thin veil, through which thy form I view,
As though in clouds; with kindly smile and true,

It cheers me, like the stars eterne that gleam
Across the northern-lights' far-flick'ring beam.

1789.*


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

THE BEAUTIFUL NIGHT.

 Now I leave this cottage lowly,

Where my love hath made her home,
And with silent footstep slowly

Through the darksome forest roam,
Luna breaks through oaks and bushes,

Zephyr hastes her steps to meet,
And the waving birch-tree blushes,

Scattering round her incense sweet.

Grateful are the cooling breezes

Of this beauteous summer night,
Here is felt the charm that pleases,

And that gives the soul delight.
Boundless is my joy; yet, Heaven,

Willingly I'd leave to thee
Thousand such nights, were one given

By my maiden loved to me!

1767-8.


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |

LEOPOLD DUKE OF BRUNSWICK.

 LEOPOLD, DUKE OF BRUNSWICK.

[Written on the occasion of the death, by drowning, 
of the Prince.]

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.

 1785.