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Best Famous Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Poems

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Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 THE warder looks down at the mid hour of night,

On the tombs that lie scatter'd below:
The moon fills the place with her silvery light,

And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
When see! first one grave, then another opes wide, And women and men stepping forth are descried, In cerements snow-white and trailing.
In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch, And whirl round in dances so gay; The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich, But the cerements stand in their way; And as modesty cannot avail them aught here, They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.
Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh, As the troop with strange gestures advance, And a rattle and clatter anon rises high, As of one beating time to the dance.
The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer, When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear: "Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!" Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled Behind the church-door with all speed; The moon still continues her clear light to shed On the dance that they fearfully lead.
But the dancers at length disappear one by one, And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don, And under the turf all is quiet.
But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still, And gropes at the graves in despair; Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill The shroud he soon scents in the air.
So he rattles the door--for the warder 'tis well That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel, All cover'd with crosses in metal.
The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow, There remains for reflection no time; On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now, And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed! Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed, Advances the dreaded pursuer.
The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale, The shroud to restore fain had sought; When the end,--now can nothing to save him avail,-- In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run, When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One, And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 To the great archer--not to him

To meet whom flies the sun,
And who is wont his features dim

With clouds to overrun--

But to the boy be vow'd these rhymes,

Who 'mongst the roses plays,
Who hear us, and at proper times

To pierce fair hearts essays.
Through him the gloomy winter night, Of yore so cold and drear, Brings many a loved friend to our sight, And many a woman dear.
Henceforward shall his image fair Stand in yon starry skies, And, ever mild and gracious there, Alternate set and rise.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 HAND in hand! and lip to lip!

More great poems below...

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 [A satire on his own Sorrows of Werther.
] ON bridges small and bridges great Stands Nepomucks in ev'ry state, Of bronze, wood, painted, or of stone, Some small as dolls, some giants grown; Each passer must worship before Nepomuck, Who to die on a bridge chanced to have the ill luck, When once a man with head and ears A saint in people's eyes appears, Or has been sentenced piteously Beneath the hangman's hand to die, He's as a noted person prized, In portrait is immortalized.
Engravings, woodcuts, are supplied, And through the world spread far and wide.
Upon them all is seen his name, And ev'ry one admits his claim; Even the image of the Lord Is not with greater zeal ador'd.
Strange fancy of the human race! Half sinner frail, half child of grace We see HERR WERTHER of the story In all the pomp of woodcut glory.
His worth is first made duly known, By having his sad features shown At ev'ry fair the country round; In ev'ry alehouse too they're found.
His stick is pointed by each dunce "The ball would reach his brain at once!" And each says, o'er his beer and bread: "Thank Heav'n that 'tis not we are dead!" 1815.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 THERE was a wooer blithe and gay,

A son of France was he,--
Who in his arms for many a day,

As though his bride were she,
A poor young maiden had caress'd,
And fondly kiss'd, and fondly press'd,

And then at length deserted.
When this was told the nut-brown maid, Her senses straightway fled; She laugh'd and wept, and vow'd and pray'd, And presently was dead.
The hour her soul its farewell took, The boy was sad, with terror shook, Then sprang upon his charger.
He drove his spurs into his side, And scour'd the country round; But wheresoever he might ride, No rest for him was found.
For seven long days and nights he rode, It storm'd, the waters overflow'd, It bluster'd, lighten'd, thunder'd.
On rode he through the tempest's din, Till he a building spied; In search of shelter crept he in, When he his steed had tied.
And as he groped his doubtful way, The ground began to rock and sway,-- He fell a hundred fathoms.
When he recover'd from the blow, He saw three lights pass by; He sought in their pursuit to go, The lights appear'd to fly.
They led his footsteps all astray, Up, down, through many a narrow way Through ruin'd desert cellars.
When lo! he stood within a hall, With hollow eyes.
and grinning all; They bade him taste the fare.
A hundred guests sat there.
He saw his sweetheart 'midst the throng, Wrapp'd up in grave-clothes white and long; She turn'd, and----* 1774.
(* This ballad is introduced in Act II.
of Claudine of Villa Bella, where it is suddenly broken off, as it is here.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 DRINK, oh youth, joy's purest ray
From thy loved one's eyes all day,

And her image paint at night!
Better rule no lover knows,
Yet true rapture greater grows,

When far sever'd from her sight.
Powers eternal, distance, time, Like the might of stars sublime, Gently rock the blood to rest, O'er my senses softness steals, Yet my bosom lighter feels, And I daily am more blest.
Though I can forget her ne'er, Yet my mind is free from care, I can calmly live and move; Unperceived infatuation Longing turns to adoration, Turns to reverence my love.
Ne'er can cloud, however light, Float in ether's regions bright, When drawn upwards by the sun, As my heart in rapturous calm.
Free from envy and alarm, Ever love I her alone! 1767-9.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 IF to her eyes' bright lustre I were blind,

No longer would they serve my life to gild.
The will of destiny must be fulfilid,-- This knowing, I withdrew with sadden'd mind.
No further happiness I now could find: The former longings of my heart were still'd; I sought her looks alone, whereon to build My joy in life,--all else was left behind.
Wine's genial glow, the festal banquet gay, Ease, sleep, and friends, all wonted pleasures glad I spurn'd, till little there remain'd to prove.
Now calmly through the world I wend my way: That which I crave may everywhere be had, With me I bring the one thing needful--love.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 WHAT time our Lord still walk'd the earth,
Unknown, despised, of humble birth,
And on Him many a youth attended
(His words they seldom comprehended),
It ever seem'd to Him most meet
To hold His court in open street,
As under heaven's broad canopy
One speaks with greater liberty.
The teachings of His blessed word From out His holy mouth were heard; Each market to a fane turn'd He With parable and simile.
One day, as tow'rd a town He roved, In peace of mind with those He loved, Upon the path a something gleam'd; A broken horseshoe 'twas, it seem'd.
So to St.
Peter thus He spake: "That piece of iron prythee take!" St.
Peter's thoughts had gone astray,-- He had been musing on his way Respecting the world's government, A dream that always gives content, For in the head 'tis check'd by nought; This ever was his dearest thought, For him this prize was far too mean Had it a crown and sceptre been! But, surely, 'twasn't worth the trouble For half a horseshoe to bend double! And so he turn'd away his head, As if he heard not what was said, The Lord, forbearing tow'rd all men, Himself pick'd up the horseshoe then (He ne'er again like this stoop'd down).
And when at length they reach'd the town, Before a smithy He remain'd, And there a penny for 't obtain'd.
As they the market-place went by, Some beauteous cherries caught His eye: Accordingly He bought as many As could be purchased for a penny, And then, as oft His wont had been, Placed them within His sleeve unseen.
They went out by another gate, O'er plains and fields proceeding straight, No house or tree was near the spot, The sun was bright, the day was hot; In short, the weather being such, A draught of water was worth much.
The Lord walk'd on before them all, And let, unseen, a cherry fall.
Peter rush'd to seize it hold, As though an apple 'twere of gold; His palate much approv'd the berry; The Lord ere long another cherry Once more let fall upon the plain; St.
Peter forthwith stoop'd again.
The Lord kept making him thus bend To pick up cherries without end.
For a long time the thing went on; The Lord then said, in cheerful tone: "Had'st thou but moved when thou wert bid, Thou of this trouble had'st been rid; The man who small things scorns, will next, By things still smaller be perplex'd.
" 1797.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 THE waters rush'd, the waters rose,

A fisherman sat by,
While on his line in calm repose

He cast his patient eye.
And as he sat, and hearken'd there, The flood was cleft in twain, And, lo! a dripping mermaid fair Sprang from the troubled main.
She sang to him, and spake the while: "Why lurest thou my brood, With human wit and human guile From out their native flood? Oh, couldst thou know how gladly dart The fish across the sea, Thou wouldst descend, e'en as thou art, And truly happy be! "Do not the sun and moon with grace Their forms in ocean lave? Shines not with twofold charms their face, When rising from the wave? The deep, deep heavens, then lure thee not,-- The moist yet radiant blue,-- Not thine own form,--to tempt thy lot 'Midst this eternal dew?" The waters rush'd, the waters rose, Wetting his naked feet; As if his true love's words were those, His heart with longing beat.
She sang to him, to him spake she, His doom was fix'd, I ween; Half drew she him, and half sank he, And ne'er again was seen.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 WHILE he is mark'd by vision clear

Who fathoms Nature's treasures,
The man may follow, void of fear,

Who her proportions measures.
Though for one mortal, it is true, These trades may both be fitted, Yet, that the things themselves are two Must always be admitted.
Once on a time there lived a cook Whose skill was past disputing, Who in his head a fancy took To try his luck at shooting.
So, gun in hand, he sought a spot Where stores of game were breeding, And there ere long a cat he shot That on young birds was feeding.
This cat he fancied was a hare, Forming a judgment hasty, So served it up for people's fare, Well-spiced and in a pasty.
Yet many a guest with wrath was fill'd (All who had noses tender): The cat that's by the sportsman kill'd No cook a hare can render.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 KLOPSTOCK would lead us away from Pindus; no longer 
for laurel
May we be eager--the homely acorn alone must content us;
Yet he himself his more-than-epic crusade is conducting
High on Golgotha's summit, that foreign gods he may honour!
Yet, on what hill he prefers, let him gather the angels together,
Suffer deserted disciples to weep o'er the grave of the just one:
There where a hero and saint hath died, where a bard breath'd his 
Both for our life and our death an ensample of courage resplendent
And of the loftiest human worth to bequeath,--ev'ry nation
There will joyously kneel in devotion ecstatic, revering
Thorn and laurel garland, and all its charms and its tortures.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 [Written and sung in honour of the birthday 
of the Pastor Ewald at the time of Goethe's happy connection with 
] IN ev'ry hour of joy That love and wine prolong, The moments we'll employ To carol forth this song! We're gathered in His name, Whose power hath brought us here; He kindled first our flame, He bids it burn more clear.
Then gladly glow to-night, And let our hearts combine! Up! quaff with fresh delight This glass of sparkling wine! Up! hail the joyous hour, And let your kiss be true; With each new bond of power The old becomes the new! Who in our circle lives, And is not happy there? True liberty it gives, And brother's love so fair.
Thus heart and heart through life With mutual love are fill'd; And by no causeless strife Our union e'er is chill'd.
Our hopes a God has crown'd With life-discernment free, And all we view around, Renews our ecstasy.
Ne'er by caprice oppress'd, Our bliss is ne'er destroy'd; More freely throbs our breast, By fancies ne'er alloy'd.
Where'er our foot we set, The more life's path extends, And brighter, brighter yet Our gaze on high ascends.
We know no grief or pain, Though all things fall and rise; Long may we thus remain! Eternal be our ties! 1775.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 COVER thy spacious heavens, Zeus,
With clouds of mist,
And, like the boy who lops
The thistles' heads,
Disport with oaks and mountain-peaks,
Yet thou must leave
My earth still standing;
My cottage too, which was not raised by thee;
Leave me my hearth,
Whose kindly glow
By thee is envied.
I know nought poorer Under the sun, than ye gods! Ye nourish painfully, With sacrifices And votive prayers, Your majesty: Ye would e'en starve, If children and beggars Were not trusting fools.
While yet a child And ignorant of life, I turned my wandering gaze Up tow'rd the sun, as if with him There were an ear to hear my wailings, A heart, like mine, To feel compassion for distress.
Who help'd me Against the Titans' insolence? Who rescued me from certain death, From slavery? Didst thou not do all this thyself, My sacred glowing heart? And glowedst, young and good, Deceived with grateful thanks To yonder slumbering one? I honour thee! and why? Hast thou e'er lighten'd the sorrows Of the heavy laden? Hast thou e'er dried up the tears Of the anguish-stricken? Was I not fashion'd to be a man By omnipotent Time, And by eternal Fate, Masters of me and thee? Didst thou e'er fancy That life I should learn to hate, And fly to deserts, Because not all My blossoming dreams grew ripe? Here sit I, forming mortals After my image; A race resembling me, To suffer, to weep, To enjoy, to be glad, And thee to scorn, As I! 1773.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 WHEN the primeval
All-holy Father
Sows with a tranquil hand
From clouds, as they roll,
Bliss-spreading lightnings
Over the earth,
Then do I kiss the last
Hem of his garment,
While by a childlike awe
Fiil'd is my breast.
For with immortals Ne'er may a mortal Measure himself.
If he soar upwards And if he touch With his forehead the stars, Nowhere will rest then His insecure feet, And with him sport Tempest and cloud.
Though with firm sinewy Limbs he may stand On the enduring Well-grounded earth, All he is ever Able to do, Is to resemble The oak or the vine.
Wherein do gods Differ from mortals? In that the former See endless billows Heaving before them; Us doth the billow Lift up and swallow, So that we perish.
Small is the ring Enclosing our life, And whole generations Link themselves firmly On to existence's Chain never-ending.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 A village Chorus is supposed to be assembled, and about to
commence its festive procession.
[Written for the birthday of the Duchess Louisa of Weimar.
THE festal day hail ye With garlands of pleasure, And dances' soft measure, With rapture commingled And sweet choral song.
Oh, how I yearn from out the crowd to flee! What joy a secret glade would give to me! Amid the throng, the turmoil here, Confined the plain, the breezes e'en appear.
Now order it truly, That ev'ry one duly May roam and may wander, Now here, and now yonder, The meadows along.
[The Chorus retreats gradually, and the song becomes fainter and fainter, till it dies away in the distance.
In vain ye call, in vain would lure me on; True my heart speaks,--but with itself alone.
And if I may view A blessing-fraught land, The heaven's clear blue, And the plain's verdant hue, Alone I'll rejoice, Undisturbed by man's voice.
And there I'll pay homage To womanly merit, Observe it in spirit, In spirit pay homage; To echo alone Shall my secret be known.
[Faintly mingling with Damon's song in the distance.
] To echo--alone-- Shall my secret--be known.
My friend, why meet I here with thee? Thou hast'nest not to join the festal throng? No longer stay, but come with me, And mingle in the dance and song.
Thou'rt welcome, friend! but suffer me to roam Where these old beeches hide me from man's view: Love seeks in solitude a home, And homage may retreat there too.
Thou seekest here a spurious fame, And hast a mind to-day to grieve me.
Love as thy portion thou mayst claim But homage thou must share with all, believe me! When their voices thousands raise, And the dawn of morning praise, Rapture bringing, Blithely singing On before us, Heart and ear in pleasure vie; And when thousands join in chorus, With the feelings brightly glowing, And the wishes overflowing, Forcibly they'll bear thee high.
[The Chorus gradually approaches, from the distance.
Distant strains are hither wending, And I'm gladden'd by the throng; Yes, they're coming,--yes, descending To the valley from the height, MENALCAS.
Let us haste, our footsteps blending With the rhythm of the song! Yes, they come; their course they're bending Tow'rd the wood's green sward so bright.
[Gradually becoming louder.
] Yes, we hither come, attending With the harmony of song, As the hours their race are ending On this day of blest delight.
Let none reveal The thoughts we feel, The aims we own! Let joy alone Disclose the story! She'll prove it right And her delight Includes the glory, Includes the bliss Of days like this! 1813.