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Best Famous Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe poems. This is a select list of the best famous Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe poems.

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12
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

THE DANCE OF DEATH

 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.
1813.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

TO THE CHOSEN ONE

 HAND in hand! and lip to lip!
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

THE BRIDE OF CORINTH

 [First published in Schiller's Horen, in connection 
with a
friendly contest in the art of ballad-writing between the two
great poets, to which many of their finest works are owing.
] ONCE a stranger youth to Corinth came, Who in Athens lived, but hoped that he From a certain townsman there might claim, As his father's friend, kind courtesy.
Son and daughter, they Had been wont to say Should thereafter bride and bridegroom be.
But can he that boon so highly prized, Save tis dearly bought, now hope to get? They are Christians and have been baptized, He and all of his are heathens yet.
For a newborn creed, Like some loathsome weed, Love and truth to root out oft will threat.
Father, daughter, all had gone to rest, And the mother only watches late; She receives with courtesy the guest, And conducts him to the room of state.
Wine and food are brought, Ere by him besought; Bidding him good night.
she leaves him straight.
But he feels no relish now, in truth, For the dainties so profusely spread; Meat and drink forgets the wearied youth, And, still dress'd, he lays him on the bed.
Scarce are closed his eyes, When a form in-hies Through the open door with silent tread.
By his glimmering lamp discerns he now How, in veil and garment white array'd, With a black and gold band round her brow, Glides into the room a bashful maid.
But she, at his sight, Lifts her hand so white, And appears as though full sore afraid.
"Am I," cries she, "such a stranger here, That the guest's approach they could not name? Ah, they keep me in my cloister drear, Well nigh feel I vanquish'd by my shame.
On thy soft couch now Slumber calmly thou! I'll return as swiftly as I came.
" "Stay, thou fairest maiden!" cries the boy, Starting from his couch with eager haste: "Here are Ceres', Bacchus' gifts of joy; Amor bringest thou, with beauty grac'd! Thou art pale with fear! Loved one let us here Prove the raptures the Immortals taste.
" "Draw not nigh, O Youth! afar remain! Rapture now can never smile on me; For the fatal step, alas! is ta'en, Through my mother's sick-bed phantasy.
Cured, she made this oath: 'Youth and nature both Shall henceforth to Heav'n devoted be.
' "From the house, so silent now, are driven All the gods who reign'd supreme of yore; One Invisible now rules in heaven, On the cross a Saviour they adore.
Victims slay they here, Neither lamb nor steer, But the altars reek with human gore.
" And he lists, and ev'ry word he weighs, While his eager soul drinks in each sound: "Can it be that now before my gaze Stands my loved one on this silent ground? Pledge to me thy troth! Through our father's oath: With Heav'ns blessing will our love be crown'd.
" "Kindly youth, I never can be thine! 'Tis my sister they intend for thee.
When I in the silent cloister pine, Ah, within her arms remember me! Thee alone I love, While love's pangs I prove; Soon the earth will veil my misery.
" "No! for by this glowing flame I swear, Hymen hath himself propitious shown: Let us to my fathers house repair, And thoult find that joy is not yet flown, Sweetest, here then stay, And without delay Hold we now our wedding feast alone!" Then exchange they tokens of their truth; She gives him a golden chain to wear, And a silver chalice would the youth Give her in return of beauty rare.
"That is not for me; Yet I beg of thee, One lock only give me of thy hair.
" Now the ghostly hour of midnight knell'd, And she seem'd right joyous at the sign; To her pallid lips the cup she held, But she drank of nought but blood-red wine.
For to taste the bread There before them spread, Nought he spoke could make the maid incline.
To the youth the goblet then she brought,-- He too quaff'd with eager joy the bowl.
Love to crown the silent feast he sought, Ah! full love-sick was the stripling's soul.
From his prayer she shrinks, Till at length he sinks On the bed and weeps without control.
And she comes, and lays her near the boy: "How I grieve to see thee sorrowing so! If thou think'st to clasp my form with joy, Thou must learn this secret sad to know; Yes! the maid, whom thou Call'st thy loved one now, Is as cold as ice, though white as snow.
" Then he clasps her madly in his arm, While love's youthful might pervades his frame: "Thou might'st hope, when with me, to grow warm, E'en if from the grave thy spirit came! Breath for breath, and kiss! Overflow of bliss! Dost not thou, like me, feel passion's flame?" Love still closer rivets now their lips, Tears they mingle with their rapture blest, From his mouth the flame she wildly sips, Each is with the other's thought possess'd.
His hot ardour's flood Warms her chilly blood, But no heart is beating in her breast.
In her care to see that nought went wrong, Now the mother happen'd to draw near; At the door long hearkens she, full long, Wond'ring at the sounds that greet her ear.
Tones of joy and sadness, And love's blissful madness, As of bride and bridegroom they appear, From the door she will not now remove 'Till she gains full certainty of this; And with anger hears she vows of love, Soft caressing words of mutual bliss.
"Hush! the cock's loud strain! But thoult come again, When the night returns!"--then kiss on kiss.
Then her wrath the mother cannot hold, But unfastens straight the lock with ease "In this house are girls become so bold, As to seek e'en strangers' lusts to please?" By her lamp's clear glow Looks she in,--and oh! Sight of horror!--'tis her child she sees.
Fain the youth would, in his first alarm, With the veil that o'er her had been spread, With the carpet, shield his love from harm; But she casts them from her, void of dread, And with spirit's strength, In its spectre length, Lifts her figure slowly from the bed.
"Mother! mother!"--Thus her wan lips say: "May not I one night of rapture share? From the warm couch am I chased away? Do I waken only to despair? It contents not thee To have driven me An untimely shroud of death to wear? "But from out my coffin's prison-bounds By a wond'rous fate I'm forced to rove, While the blessings and the chaunting sounds That your priests delight in, useless prove.
Water, salt, are vain Fervent youth to chain, Ah, e'en Earth can never cool down love! "When that infant vow of love was spoken, Venus' radiant temple smiled on both.
Mother! thou that promise since hast broken, Fetter'd by a strange, deceitful oath.
Gods, though, hearken ne'er, Should a mother swear To deny her daughter's plighted troth.
From my grave to wander I am forc'd, Still to seek The Good's long-sever'd link, Still to love the bridegroom I have lost, And the life-blood of his heart to drink; When his race is run, I must hasten on, And the young must 'neath my vengeance sink, "Beauteous youth! no longer mayst thou live; Here must shrivel up thy form so fair; Did not I to thee a token give, Taking in return this lock of hair? View it to thy sorrow! Grey thoult be to-morrow, Only to grow brown again when there.
"Mother, to this final prayer give ear! Let a funeral pile be straightway dress'd; Open then my cell so sad and drear, That the flames may give the lovers rest! When ascends the fire From the glowing pyre, To the gods of old we'll hasten, blest.
" 1797.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

NOVEMBER SONG

 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.
1815.
*
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

CELEBRITY

 [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 | Create an image from this poem

THE FAITHLESS BOY

 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 | Create an image from this poem

FOOD IN TRAVEL

 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.
1807?8.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

THREE ODES TO MY FRIEND

 THESE are the most singular of all the Poems 
of Goethe, and to many will appear so wild and fantastic, as to 
leave anything but a pleasing impression.
Those at the beginning, addressed to his friend Behrisch, were written at the age of eighteen, and most of the remainder were composed while he was still quite young.
Despite, however, the extravagance of some of them, such as the Winter Journey over the Hartz Mountains, and the Wanderer's Storm-Song, nothing can be finer than the noble one entitled Mahomet's Song, and others, such as the Spirit Song' over the Waters, The God-like, and, above all, the magnificent sketch of Prometheus, which forms part of an unfinished piece bearing the same name, and called by Goethe a 'Dramatic Fragment.
' TO MY FRIEND.
[These three Odes are addressed to a certain Behrisch, who was tutor to Count Lindenau, and of whom Goethe gives an odd account at the end of the Seventh Book of his Autobiography.
] FIRST ODE.
TRANSPLANT the beauteous tree! Gardener, it gives me pain; A happier resting-place Its trunk deserved.
Yet the strength of its nature To Earth's exhausting avarice, To Air's destructive inroads, An antidote opposed.
See how it in springtime Coins its pale green leaves! Their orange-fragrance Poisons each flyblow straight.
The caterpillar's tooth Is blunted by them; With silv'ry hues they gleam In the bright sunshine, Its twigs the maiden Fain would twine in Her bridal-garland; Youths its fruit are seeking.
See, the autumn cometh! The caterpillar Sighs to the crafty spider,-- Sighs that the tree will not fade.
Hov'ring thither From out her yew-tree dwelling, The gaudy foe advances Against the kindly tree, And cannot hurt it, But the more artful one Defiles with nauseous venom Its silver leaves; And sees with triumph How the maiden shudders, The youth, how mourns he, On passing by.
Transplant the beauteous tree! Gardener, it gives me pain; Tree, thank the gardener Who moves thee hence! 1767.
SECOND ODE.
THOU go'st! I murmur-- Go! let me murmur.
Oh, worthy man, Fly from this land! Deadly marshes, Steaming mists of October Here interweave their currents, Blending for ever.
Noisome insects Here are engender'd; Fatal darkness Veils their malice.
The fiery-tongued serpent, Hard by the sedgy bank, Stretches his pamper'd body, Caress'd by the sun's bright beams.
Tempt no gentle night-rambles Under the moon's cold twilight! Loathsome toads hold their meetings Yonder at every crossway.
Injuring not, Fear will they cause thee.
Oh, worthy man, Fly from this land! 1767.
THIRD ODE.
BE void of feeling! A heart that soon is stirr'd, Is a possession sad Upon this changing earth.
Behrisch, let spring's sweet smile Never gladden thy brow! Then winter's gloomy tempests Never will shadow it o'er.
Lean thyself ne'er on a maiden's Sorrow-engendering breast.
Ne'er on the arm, Misery-fraught, of a friend.
Already envy From out his rocky ambush Upon thee turns The force of his lynx-like eyes, Stretches his talons, On thee falls, In thy shoulders Cunningly plants them.
Strong are his skinny arms, As panther-claws; He shaketh thee, And rends thy frame.
Death 'tis to part, 'Tis threefold death To part, not hoping Ever to meet again.
Thou wouldst rejoice to leave This hated land behind, Wert thou not chain'd to me With friendships flowery chains.
Burst them! I'll not repine.
No noble friend Would stay his fellow-captive, If means of flight appear.
The remembrance Of his dear friend's freedom Gives him freedom In his dungeon.
Thou go'st,--I'm left.
But e'en already The last year's winged spokes Whirl round the smoking axle.
I number the turns Of the thundering wheel; The last one I bless.
-- Each bar then is broken, I'm free then as thou! 1767.
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

THE FISHERMAN

 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.
1779.
*
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Create an image from this poem

THE BLISS OF ABSENCE

 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.
12