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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 |


 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 |


 HAND in hand! and lip to lip!

More great poems below...

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 FLOURISH greener, as ye clamber,
Oh ye leaves, to seek my chamber,

Up the trellis'd vine on high!
May ye swell, twin-berries tender,
Juicier far,--and with more splendour

Ripen, and more speedily!
O'er ye broods the sun at even
As he sinks to rest, and heaven

Softly breathes into your ear
All its fertilising fullness,
While the moon's refreshing coolness,

Magic-laden, hovers near;
And, alas! ye're watered ever

By a stream of tears that rill
From mine eyes--tears ceasing never,

Tears of love that nought can still!


Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


[The strong resemblance of this fine poem to Cowley's Ode bearing the same name, and beginning "Happy insect! what can be," will be at once seen.
] HAPPY art thou, darling insect, Who, upon the trees' tall branches, By a modest draught inspired, Singing, like a monarch livest! Thou possessest as thy portion All that on the plains thou seest, All that by the hours is brought thee 'Mongst the husbandmen thou livest, As a friend, uninjured by them, Thou whom mortals love to honour, Herald sweet of sweet Spring's advent! Yes, thou'rt loved by all the Muses, Phoebus' self, too, needs must love thee; They their silver voices gave thee, Age can never steal upon thee.
Wise and gentle friend of poets, Born a creature fleshless, bloodless, Though Earth's daughter, free from suff'ring, To the gods e'en almost equal.

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 |


 [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 |


 IN search of prey once raised his pinions
An eaglet;
A huntsman's arrow came, and reft
His right wing of all motive power.
Headlong he fell into a myrtle grove, For three long days on anguish fed, In torment writhed Throughout three long, three weary nights; And then was cured, Thanks to all-healing Nature's Soft, omnipresent balm.
He crept away from out the copse, And stretch'd his wing--alas! Lost is all power of flight-- He scarce can lift himself From off the ground To catch some mean, unworthy prey, And rests, deep-sorrowing, On the low rock beside the stream.
Up to the oak he looks, Looks up to heaven, While in his noble eye there gleams a tear.
Then, rustling through the myrtle boughs, behold, There comes a wanton pair of doves, Who settle down, and, nodding, strut O'er the gold sands beside the stream, And gradually approach; Their red-tinged eyes, so full of love, Soon see the inward-sorrowing one.
The male, inquisitively social, leaps On the next bush, and looks Upon him kindly and complacently.
"Thou sorrowest," murmurs he: "Be of good cheer, my friend! All that is needed for calm happiness Hast thou not here? Hast thou not pleasure in the golden bough That shields thee from the day's fierce glow? Canst thou not raise thy breast to catch, On the soft moss beside the brook, The sun's last rays at even? Here thou mayst wander through the flowers' fresh dew, Pluck from the overflow The forest-trees provide, Thy choicest food,--mayst quench Thy light thirst at the silvery spring.
Oh friend, true happiness Lies in contentedness, And that contentedness Finds everywhere enough.
" "Oh, wise one!" said the eagle, while he sank In deep and ever deep'ning thought-- "Oh Wisdom! like a dove thou speakest!" 1774.

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 |


 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 |


 [This little song describes the different members 
of the party just spoken of.
] WHY pacest thou, my neighbour fair, The garden all alone? If house and land thou seek'st to guard, I'd thee as mistress own.
My brother sought the cellar-maid, And suffered her no rest; She gave him a refreshing draught, A kiss, too, she impress'd.
My cousin is a prudent wight, The cook's by him ador'd; He turns the spit round ceaselessly, To gain love's sweet reward.
We six together then began A banquet to consume, When lo! a fourth pair singing came, And danced into the room.
Welcome were they,--and welcome too Was a fifth jovial pair.
Brimful of news, and stored with tales And jests both new and rare.
For riddles, spirit, raillery, And wit, a place remain'd; A sixth pair then our circle join'd, And so that prize was gain'd.
And yet to make us truly blest, One miss'd we, and full sore; A true and tender couple came,-- We needed them no more.
The social banquet now goes on, Unchequer'd by alloy; The sacred double-numbers then Let us at once enjoy! 1802.

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 |


I KNOW a flower of beauty rare, Ah, how I hold it dear! To seek it I would fain repair, Were I not prison'd here.
My sorrow sore oppresses me, For when I was at liberty, I had it close beside me.
Though from this castle's walls so steep I cast mine eyes around, And gaze oft from the lofty keep, The flower can not be found.
Whoe'er would bring it to my sight, Whether a vassal he, or knight, My dearest friend I'd deem him.
I blossom fair,--thy tale of woes I hear from 'neath thy grate.
Thou doubtless meanest me, the rose.
Poor knight of high estate! Thou hast in truth a lofty mind; The queen of flowers is then enshrin'd, I doubt not, in thy bosom.
Thy red, in dress of green array'd, As worth all praise I hold; And so thou'rt treasured by each maid Like precious stones or gold.
Thy wreath adorns the fairest face But still thou'rt not the flower whose grace I honour here in silence.
The rose is wont with pride to swell, And ever seeks to rise; But gentle sweethearts love full well The lily's charms to prize, The heart that fills a bosom true, That is, like me, unsullied too, My merit values duly.
In truth, I hope myself unstain'd, And free from grievous crime; Yet I am here a prisoner chain'd, And pass in grief my time, To me thou art an image sure Of many a maiden, mild and pure, And yet I know a dearer.
That must be me, the pink, who scent The warder's garden here; Or wherefore is he so intent My charms with care to rear? My petals stand in beauteous ring, Sweet incense all around I fling, And boast a thousand colours.
The pink in truth we should not slight, It is the gardener's pride It now must stand exposed to light, Now in the shade abide.
Yet what can make the Count's heart glow Is no mere pomp of outward show; It is a silent flower.
Here stand I, modestly half hid, And fain would silence keep; Yet since to speak I now am bid, I'll break my silence deep.
If, worthy Knight, I am that flower, It grieves me that I have not power To breathe forth all my sweetness.
The violet's charms I prize indeed, So modest 'tis, and fair, And smells so sweet; yet more I need To ease my heavy care.
The truth I'll whisper in thine ear: Upon these rocky heights so drear, I cannot find the loved one.
The truest maiden 'neath the sky Roams near the stream below, And breathes forth many a gentle sigh, Till I from hence can go.
And when she plucks a flow'ret blue, And says "Forget-me-not!"--I, too, Though far away, can feel it.
Ay, distance only swells love's might, When fondly love a pair; Though prison'd in the dungeon's night, In life I linger there And when my heart is breaking nigh, "Forget-me-not!" is all I cry, And straightway life returneth.

Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |


 I ONCE was fond of fools,

And bid them come each day;
Then each one brought his tools

The carpenter to play;
The roof to strip first choosing,

Another to supply,
The wood as trestles using,

To move it by-and-by,
While here and there they ran,

And knock'd against each other;
To fret I soon began,

My anger could not smother,
So cried, "Get out, ye fools!"

At this they were offended
Then each one took his tools,

And so our friendship ended.
Since that, I've wiser been, And sit beside my door; When one of them is seen, I cry, "Appear no more!" "Hence, stupid knave!" I bellow: At this he's angry too: "You impudent old fellow! And pray, sir, who are you? Along the streets we riot, And revel at the fair; But yet we're pretty quiet, And folks revile us ne'er.
Don't call us names, then, please!"-- At length I meet with ease, For now they leave my door-- 'Tis better than before! 1827.

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.