Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28. august 1749 – 22. marts 1832) var en tysk forfatter, videnskabsmand og filosof.
Goethe er især berømt for som ung forfatter at præge Sturm und Drang-perioden, og i en ældre alder at være nærmest synonym med den litterære retning Weimarklassikken. Goethe var enormt produktiv, og hans værker spænder fra digte, dramaer og romaner til essays og naturvidenskabelige afhandlinger. Blandt hans vigtigste værker er bl.a. Den unge Werthers lidelser, Faust og Zur Farbenlehre (farvelære). Han inspirerede Darwin med sin uafhængige opdagelse af de menneskelige premaxilla-kæbeknogler.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe blev født i Frankfurt am Main i 1749. Han studerede jura, og allerede under sin studietid skrev han mange digte. I 1775 kom han til Weimar, og her blev han, på nær to års ophold i Italien, indtil han døde. Han blev minister, og indledte et venskab med hertug Karl August. Goethe forelskede sig i mange kvinder igennem livet, bl.a. Charlotte von Stein, der også boede i Weimar. Deres (ufuldbyrdede) forhold varede i 12 år, men hun forlod aldrig sin mand og sine 7 børn. Til hende skrev han digtet ”Wandrers Nachtlied I”. Otte år senere forfattede han Illmenau ”Wandrers Nachtlied II”. Begge digte handler om længsel – efter kvinden og efter døden. (Kilde: Wikipedia)
Excels my Lily’s at this minute;
She keeps the strangest creatures in it,
And catches them, she knows not how.
Oh, how they hop, and run, and rave,
And their clipp’d pinions wildly wave,—
Poor princes, who must all endure
The pangs of love that nought can cure.
What is the fairy’s name?—Is’t Lily?—Ask not me!
Give thanks to Heaven if she’s unknown to thee.
Oh what a cackling, what a shrieking,
When near the door she takes her stand,
With her food-basket in her hand!
Oh what a croaking, what a squeaking!
Alive all the trees and the bushes appear,
While to her feet whole troops draw near;
The very fish within, the water clear
Splash with impatience and their heads protrude;
And then she throws around the food
With such a look!—the very gods delighting
(To say nought of beasts). There begins, then, a biting,
A picking, a pecking, a sipping,
And each o’er the legs of another is tripping,
And pushing, and pressing, and flapping,
And chasing, and fuming, and snapping,
And all for one small piece of bread,
To which, though dry, her fair hands give a taste,
As though it in ambrosia had been plac’d.
And then her look! the tone
With which she calls: Pipi! Pipi!
Would draw Jove’s eagle from his throne;
Yes, Venus’ turtle doves, I wean,
And the vain peacock e’en,
Would come, I swear,
Soon as that tone had reach’d them through the air.
E’en from a forest dark had she
Enticed a bear, unlick’d, ill-bred,
And, by her wiles alluring, led
To join the gentle company,
Until as tame as they was he:
(Up to a certain point, be’t understood!)
How fair, and, ah, how good
She seem’d to be! I would have drain’d my blood
To water e’en her flow’rets sweet.
“Thou sayest: I! Who? How? And where?”—
Well, to be plain, good Sirs—I am the bear;
In a net-apron, caught, alas!
Chain’d by a silk-thread at her feet.
But how this wonder came to pass
I’ll tell some day, if ye are curious;
Just now, my temper’s much too furious.
Ah, when I’m in the corner plac’d,
And hear afar the creatures snapping,
And see the flipping and the flapping,
I turn around
With growling sound,
And backward run a step in haste,
And look around
With growling sound.
Then run again a step in haste,
And to my former post go round.
But suddenly my anger grows,
A mighty spirit fills my nose,
My inward feelings all revolt.
A creature such as thou! a dolt!
Pipi, a squirrel able nuts to crack!
I bristle up my shaggy back
Unused a slave to be.
I’m laughed at by each trim and upstart tree
To scorn. The bowling-green I fly,
With neatly-mown and well-kept grass:
The box makes faces as I pass,—
Into the darkest thicket hasten I,
Hoping to ’scape from the ring,
Over the palings to spring!
Vainly I leap and climb;
I feel a leaden spell.
That pinions me as well,
And when I’m fully wearied out in time,
I lay me down beside some mock-cascade,
And roll myself half dead, and foam, and cry,
And, ah! no Oreads hear my sigh,
Excepting those of china made!
But, ah, with sudden power
In all my members blissful feelings reign!
‘Tis she who singeth yonder in her bower!
I hear that darling, darling voice again.
The air is warm, and teems with fragrance clear,
Sings she perchance for me alone to hear?
I haste, and trample down the shrubs amain;
The trees make way, the bushes all retreat,
And so—the beast is lying at her feet.
She looks at him: “The monster’s droll enough!
He’s, for a bear, too mild,
Yet, for a dog, too wild,
So shaggy, clumsy, rough!”
Upon his back she gently strokes her foot;
He thinks himself in Paradise.
What feelings through his seven senses shoot!
But she looks on with careless eyes.
I lick her soles, and kiss her shoes,
As gently as a bear well may;
Softly I rise, and with a clever ruse
Leap on her knee.—On a propitious day
She suffers it; my ears then tickles she,
And hits me a hard blow in wanton play;
I growl with new-born ecstasy;
Then speaks she in a sweet vain jest, I wot
“Allons lout doux! eh! la menotte!
Et faites serviteur
Comme un joli seigneur.”
Thus she proceeds with sport and glee;
Hope fills the oft-deluded beast;
Yet if one moment he would lazy be,
Her fondness all at once hath ceas’d.
She doth a flask of balsam-fire possess,
Sweeter than honey bees can make,
One drop of which she’ll on her finger take,
When soften’d by his love and faithfulness,
Wherewith her monster’s raging thirst to slake;
Then leaves me to myself, and flies at last,
And I, unbound, yet prison’d fast
By magic, follow in her train,
Seek for her, tremble, fly again.
The hapless creature thus tormenteth she,
Regardless of his pleasure or his woe;
Ha! oft half-open’d does she leave the door for me,
And sideways looks to learn if I will fly or no.
And I—Oh gods! your hands alone
Can end the spell that’s o’er me thrown;
Free me, and gratitude my heart will fill;
And yet from heaven ye send me down no aid—
Not quite in vain doth life my limbs pervade:
I feel it! Strength is left me still.
Who would pity me that heard my sorrows?
Ah, the lip that erst so many raptures
Used to taste, and used to give responsive,
Now is cloven, and it pains me sorely;
And it is not thus severely wounded
By my mistress having caught me fiercely,
And then gently bitten me, intending
To secure her friend more firmly to her:
No, my tender lip is crack’d thus, only
By the winds, o’er rime and frost proceeding,
Pointed, sharp, unloving, having met me.
Now the noble grape’s bright juice commingled
With the bee’s sweet juice, upon the fire
Of my hearth, shall ease me of my torment.
Ah, what use will all this be, if with it
Love adds not a drop of his own balsam?
To the Muses kind oft cried I:
“Not a ray of morn is gleaming,
Not a sign of daylight breaking;
Bring, then, at the fitting moment,
Bring the lamp’s soft glimm’ring lustre,
‘Stead of Phoebus and Aurora,
To enliven my still labours!”
Yet they left me in my slumbers,
Dull and unrefreshing, lying,
And to each late-waken’d morning
Follow’d days devoid of profit.
When at length return’d the spring-time,
To the nightingales thus spake I:
“Darling nightingales, oh, beat ye
Early, early at my window,—
Wake me from the heavy slumber
That chains down the youth so strongly!”
Yet the love-o’erflowing songsters
Their sweet melodies protracted
Through the night before my window,
Kept awake my loving spirit,
Rousing new and tender yearnings
In my newly-waken’d bosom.
And the night thus fleeted o’er me,
And Aurora found me sleeping,—
Ay, the sun could scarce arouse me.
Now at length is come the Summer,
And the early fly so busy
Draws me from my pleasing slumbers
At the first-born morning-glimmer.
Mercilessly then returns she,
Though the half-aroused one often
Scares her from him with impatience,
And she lures her shameless sisters,
So that from my weary eyelids
Kindly sleep ere long is driven.
From my couch then boldly spring I,
And I seek the darling Muses,
in the beechen-grove I find them,
Full of pieasure to receive me;
And to the tormenting insects
Owe I many a golden hour.
Thus be ye, unwelcome beings,
Highly valued by the poet,
As the flies my numbers tell of.
Tell me what great sin have I committed,
That thou keep’st me to the rack thus fasten’d,
That thou hast thy solemn promise broken?
‘Twas but yestere’en that thou with fondness
Press’d my hand, and these sweet accents murmured:
“Yes, I’ll come, I’ll come when morn approacheth,
Come, my friend, full surely to thy chamber.”
On the latch I left my doors, unfasten’d,
Having first with care tried all the hinges,
And rejoic’d right well to find they creak’d not.
What a night of expectation pass’d I!
For I watch’d, and ev’ry chime I number’d;
If perchance I slept a few short moments,
Still my heart remain’d awake forever,
And awoke me from my gentle slumbers.
Yes, then bless’d I night’s o’erhanging darkness,
That so calmly cover’d all things round me;
I enjoy’d the universal silence,
While I listen’d ever in the silence,
If perchance the slightest sounds were stirring.
“Had she only thoughts, my thoughts resembling,
Had she only feelings, like my feelings,
She would not await the dawn of morning.
But, ere this, would surely have been with me.”
Skipp’d a kitten on the floor above me,
Scratch’d a mouse a panel in the corner,
Was there in the house the slightest motion,
Ever hoped I that I heard thy footstep,
Ever thought I that I heard thee coming.
And so lay I long, and ever longer,
And already was the daylight dawning,
And both here and there were signs of movement.
“Is it yon door? Were it my door only!”
In my bed I lean’d upon my elbow,
Looking tow’rd the door, now half-apparent,
If perchance it might not be in motion.
Both the wings upon the latch continued,
On the quiet hinges calmly hanging.
And the day grew bright and brighter ever;
And I heard my neighbour’s door unbolted,
As he went to earn his daily wages,
And ere long I heard the waggons rumbling,
And the city gates were also open’d,
While the market-place, in ev’ry corner,
Teem’d with life and bustle and confusion.
In the house was going now and coming
Up and down the stairs, and doors were creaking
Backwards now, now forwards,—footsteps clatter’d
Yet, as though it were a thing all-living,
From my cherish’d hope I could not tear me.
When at length the sun, in hated splendour.
Fell upon my walls, upon my windows,
Up I sprang, and hasten’d to the garden,
There to blend my breath, so hot and yearning,
With the cool refreshing morning breezes,
And, it might be, even there to meet thee:
But I cannot find thee in the arbour,
Or the avenue of lofty lindens.
But soon found I that her door was fasten’d.
Yet I had the key safe in my pocket,
And the darling door I open’d softly!
In the parlour found I not the maiden,
Found the maiden not within her closet,
Then her chamber-door I gently open’d,
When I found her wrapp’d in pleasing slumbers,
Fully dress’d, and lying on the sofa.
While at work had slumber stolen o’er her;
For her knitting and her needle found I
Resting in her folded bands so tender;
And I placed myself beside her softly,
And held counsel, whether I should wake her.
Then I looked upon the beauteous quiet
That on her sweet eyelids was reposing
On her lips was silent truth depicted,
On her cheeks had loveliness its dwelling,
And the pureness of a heart unsullied
In her bosom evermore was heaving.
All her limbs were gracefully reclining,
Set at rest by sweet and godlike balsam.
Gladly sat I, and the contemplation
Held the strong desire I felt to wake her
Firmer and firmer down, with mystic fetters.
“Oh, thou love,” methought, “I see that slumber,
Slumber that betrayeth each false feature,
Cannot injure thee, can nought discover
That could serve to harm thy friend’s soft feelings.
“Now thy beauteous eyes are firmly closed,
That, when open, form mine only rapture.
And thy sweet lips are devoid of motion,
Motionless for speaking or for kissing;
Loosen’d are the soft and magic fetters
Of thine arms, so wont to twine around me,
And the hand, the ravishing companion
Of thy sweet caresses, lies unmoving.
Were my thoughts of thee but based on error,
Were the love I bear thee self-deception,
I must now have found it out, since Amor
Is, without his bandage, placed beside me.”
Long I sat thus, full of heartfelt pleasure
At my love, and at her matchless merit;
She had so delighted me while slumbering,
That I could not venture to awake her.
Then I on the little table near her
Softly placed two oranges, two roses;
Gently, gently stole I from her chamber.
When her eyes the darling one shall open,
She will straightway spy these colourd presents,
And the friendly gift will view with wonder,
For the door will still remain unopen’d.
If perchance I see to-night the angel,
How will she rejoice,—reward me doubly
For this sacrifice of fond affection!
See I miracles or pastimes?
Beauteous urchins, five in number,
‘Gainst five sisters fair contending,—
Measured is the time they’re beating—
At a bright enchantress’ bidding.
Glitt’ring spears by some are wielded,
Threads are others nimbly twining,
So that in their snares, the weapons
One would think, must needs be captured,
Soon, in truth, the spears are prison’d;
Yet they, in the gentle war-dance,
One by one escape their fetters
In the row of loops so tender,
That make haste to seize a free one
Soon as they release a captive.
So with contests, strivings, triumphs,
Flying now, and now returning,
Is an artful net soon woven,
In its whiteness like the snow-flakes,
That, from light amid the darkness,
Draw their streaky lines so varied,
As e’en colours scarce can draw them.
Who shall now receive that garment
Far beyond all others wish’d-for?
Whom our much-loved mistress favour
As her own acknowledged servant?
I am blest by kindly Fortune’s
Tokens true, in silence pray’d for!
And I feel myself held captive,
To her service now devoted.
Yet, e’en while I, thus enraptured,
Thus adorn’d, am proudly wand’ring,
See! yon wantons are entwining,
Void of strife, with secret ardour,
Other nets, each fine and finer,
Threads of twilight interweaving,
Moonbeams sweet, night-violets’ balsam.
Ere the net is noticed by us,
Is a happier one imprison’d,
Whom we, one and all, together
Greet with envy and with blessings.
In my two hands tightly clasp’d I held it,
Eagerly the sweet wine sipp’d I from it,
Seeking there to drown all care and sorrow.
Amor enter’d in, and found me sitting,
And he gently smiled in modest fashion,
Smiled as though the foolish one he pitied.
“Friend, I know a far more beauteous vessel,
One wherein to sink thy spirit wholly;
Say, what wilt thou give me, if I grant it,
And with other nectar fill it for thee?”
Oh, how kindly hath he kept his promise!
For to me, who long had yearn’d, he granted
Thee, my Lida, fill’d with soft affection.
When I clasp mine arms around thee fondly, When I drink in love’s long-hoarded balsam From thy darling lips so true,
so faithful, Fill’d with bliss thus speak I to my spirit “No! a vessel such as this, save Amor Never god hath fashion’d or been lord of!
Such a form was ne’er produced by Vulcan With his cunning, reason-gifted hammers! On the leaf-crown’d mountains may Lyaeus Bid his Fauns,
the oldest and the wisest, Pass the choicest clusters through the winepress, And himself watch o’er the fermentation: Such a draught no toil can e’er procure him!”
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.
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.
I trod the rocky path, so steep and grey,
Then to the wintry plain I bent my way
Uneasily, to flight my bosom steel’d.
But sudden was the newborn day reveal’d:
A maiden came, in heavenly bright array,
Like the fair creatures of the poet’s lay
In realms of song. My yearning heart was heal’d.
Yet turn’d I thence, till she had onward pass’d,
While closer still the folds to draw I tried,
As though with heat self-kindled to grow warm;
But follow’d her. She stood. The die was cast!
No more within my mantle could I hide;
I threw it off,—she lay within mine arm.
A very torment that, in truth, would be.
This very day my new resolve shall see.—
I’ll not go near the lately-worshipp’d Fair.
Yet what excuse, my heart, can I prepare
In such a case, for not consulting thee?
But courage! while our sorrows utter we
In tones where love, grief, gladness have a share.
But see! the minstrel’s bidding to obey,
Its melody pours forth the sounding lyre,
Yearning a sacrifice of love to bring.
Scarce wouldst thou think it—ready is the lay;
Well, but what then? Methought in the first fire
We to her presence flew, that lay to sing.
Thy marble image seems a type of thee;
Like it, no sign of life thou giv’st to me;
Compared with thee, the stone appears to glow.
Behind his shield in ambush lurks the foe,
The friend’s brow all-unruffled we should see.
I seek thee, but thou seek’st away to flee;
Fix’d as this sculptured figure, learn to grow!
Tell me, to which should I the preference pay?
Must I from both with coldness meet alone?
The one is lifeless, thou with life art blest.
In short, no longer to throw words away,
I’ll fondy kiss and kiss and kiss this stone,
Till thou dost tear me hence with envious breast.
Thou sprang’st with me, on many a spring-morn fair.
“For such a daughter, with what pleasing care,
Would I, as father, happy dwellings raise!”
And when thou on the world didst cast thy gaze,
Thy joy was then in household toils to share.
“Why did I trust her, why she trust me e’er?
For such a sister, how I Heaven should praise!”
Nothing can now the beauteous growth retard;
Love’s glowing flame within my breast is fann’d.
Shall I embrace her form, my grief to end?
Thee as a queen must I, alas, regard:
So high above me placed thou seem’st to stand;
Before a passing look I meekly bend.
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.
At length with One kiss I was forced to go;
After that bitter parting’s depth of woe,
I deem’d the shore from which my steps I bent,
Its hills, streams, dwellings, mountains, as I went,
A pledge of joy, till daylight ceased to glow;
Then on my sight did blissful visions grow
In the dim-lighted, distant firmament,
And when at length the sea confined my gaze,
My ardent longing fill’d my heart once more;
What I had lost, unwillingly I sought.
Then Heaven appear’d to shed its kindly rays:
Methought that all I had possess’d of yore
Remain’d still mine—that I was reft of nought.
The pledge thy lips to mine convey,—the kiss,—
He who, like me, hath knowledge sure of this,
Can he in aught beside find happiness?
Removed from thee, friend-sever’d, in distress,
These thoughts I vainly struggle to dismiss:
They still return to that one hour of bliss,
The only one; then tears my grief confess.
But unawares the tear makes haste to dry:
He loves, methinks, e’en to these glades so still,—
And shalt not thou to distant lands extend?
Receive the murmurs of his loving sigh;
My only joy on earth is in thy will,
Thy kindly will tow’rd me; a token send!
Ask not too closely, dearest one, I pray
For, to speak truth, I’ve nothing now to say;
Yet to thy hands at length ‘twill come, dear friend.
Since I can come not with it, what I send
My undivided heart shall now convey,
With all its joys, hopes, pleasures, pains, to-day:
All this hath no beginning, hath no end.
Henceforward I may ne’er to thee confide
How, far as thought, wish, fancy, will, can reach,
My faithful heart with thine is surely blended.
Thus stood I once enraptured by thy side,
Gazed on thee, and said nought. What need of speech?
My very being in itself was ended.
Instead of first thereon inscribing aught,
The space thou doubtless filledst up in sport.
And sent it me, to make my joy grow bright.
As soon as the blue cover met my sight,
As well becomes a woman, quick as thought
I tore it open, leaving hidden nought,
And read the well-known words of pure delight:
MY ONLY BEING! DEAREST HEART! SWEET CHILD!
How kindly thou my yearning then didst still
With gentle words, enthralling me to thee.
In truth methought I read thy whispers mild
Wherewith thou lovingly my soul didst fill,
E’en to myself for aye ennobling me.
We from them cautiously should steal away.
E’en I have oft with ling’ring and delay
Shunn’d many an influence, not to be defil’d.
And e’en though Amor oft my hours beguil’d,
At length with him preferr’d I not to play,
And so, too, with the wretched sons of clay,
When four and three-lined verses they compil’d.
But punishment pursues the scoffer straight,
As if by serpent-torch of furies led
From bill to vale, from land to sea to fly.
I hear the genie’s laughter at my fate;
Yet do I find all power of thinking fled
In sonnet-rage and love’s fierce ecstasy.
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.
And when forever all things earthly die,
We must a full and true account supply
Of ev’ry useless word we dropp’d in play.
But what effect will all the words convey
Wherein with eager zeal and lovingly,
That I might win thy favour, labour’d I,
If on thine ear alone they die away?
Therefore, sweet love, thy conscience bear in mind,
Remember well how long thou hast delay’d,
So that the world such sufferings may not know.
If I must reckon, and excuses find
For all things useless I to thee have said,
To a full year the Judgment Day will grow
In flaming letters written, was impress d
GOOD FRIDAY. And on mine, be it confess’d,
Is this year’s ADVENT, as it passeth o’er.
I do not now begin,—I still adore
Her whom I early cherish’d in my breast;,
Then once again with prudence dispossess’d,
And to whose heart I’m driven back once more.
The love of Petrarch, that all-glorious love,
Was unrequited, and, alas, full sad;
One long Good Friday ‘twas, one heartache drear
But may my mistress’ Advent ever prove,
With its palm-jubilee, so sweet and glad,
One endless Mayday, through the livelong year!
YE love, and sonnets write! Fate’s strange behest!
The heart, its hidden meaning to declare,
Must seek for rhymes, uniting pair with pair:
Learn, children, that the will is weak, at best.
Scarcely with freedom the o’erflowing breast
As yet can speak, and well may it beware;
Tempestuous passions sweep each chord that’s there,
Then once more sink to night and gentle rest.
Why vex yourselves and us, the heavy stone
Up the steep path but step by step to roll?
It falls again, and ye ne’er cease to strive.
But we are on the proper road alone!
If gladly is to thaw the frozen soul,
The fire of love must aye be kept alive.
Whose sounds our lips so often love to frame,
But which with clearness never can proclaim
The things whose own peculiar stamp they bear.
‘Tis well in days of age and youth so fair,
One on the other boldly to inflame;
And if those words together link’d we name,
A blissful rapture we discover there.
But now to give them pleasure do I seek,
And in myself my happiness would find;
I hope in silence, but I hope for this:
Gently, as loved one’s names, those words to speak
To see them both within one image shrin’d,
Both in one being to embrace with bliss.
Like the gleam
Of a star so bright
High above the clouds
Nourished him while youthful
In the copse between the cliffs.
Young and fresh.
From the clouds he danceth
Down upon the marble rocks;
Then tow’rd heaven
Through the mountain-passes
Chaseth he the colour’d pebbles,
And, advancing like a chief,
Tears his brother streamlets with him
In his course.
In the valley down below
‘Neath his footsteps spring the flowers,
And the meadow
In his breath finds life.
Yet no shady vale can stay him,
Nor can flowers,
Round his knees all-softly twining
With their loving eyes detain him;
To the plain his course he taketh,
Join his waters. And now moves he
O’er the plain in silv’ry glory,
And the plain in him exults,
And the rivers from the plain,
And the streamlets from the mountain,
Shout with joy, exclaiming: “Brother,
Brother, take thy brethren with thee,
With thee to thine aged father,
To the everlasting ocean,
Who, with arms outstretching far,
Waiteth for us;
Ah, in vain those arms lie open
To embrace his yearning children;
For the thirsty sand consumes us
In the desert waste; the sunbeams
Drink our life-blood; hills around us
Into lakes would dam us! Brother,
Take thy brethren of the plain,
Take thy brethren of the mountain
With thee, to thy father’s arms!
Let all come, then!—
And now swells he
Lordlier still; yea, e’en a people
Bears his regal flood on high!
And in triumph onward rolling,
Names to countries gives he,—cities
Spring to light beneath his foot.
Ever, ever, on he rushes,
Leaves the towers’ flame-tipp’d summits,
Marble palaces, the offspring
Of his fullness, far behind.
Cedar-houses bears the Atlas
On his giant shoulders; flutt’ring
In the breeze far, far above him
Thousand flags are gaily floating,
Bearing witness to his might.
And so beareth he his brethren,
All his treasures, all his children,
Wildly shouting, to the bosom
Of his long-expectant sire.
From heaven it cometh,
To heaven it soareth.
And then again
To earth descendeth,
Down from the lofty
Streams the bright flood,
Then spreadeth gently
In cloudy billows
O’er the smooth rock,
And welcomed kindly,
Veiling, on roams it,
Tow’rd the abyss.
Oppose its progress,—
Angrily foams it
Down to the bottom,
Step by step.
Now, in flat channel,
Through the meadowland steals it,
And in the polish’d lake
Wind is the loving
Wooer of waters;
Wind blends together
Spirit of man,
Thou art like unto water!
Fortune of man,
Thou art like unto wind!
Merits the highest reward?
With none contend I,
But I will give it
To the aye-changing,
Wondrous daughter of Jove.
His best-beloved offspring.
For unto her
Hath he granted
All the fancies which erst
To none allow’d he
Now he takes his pleasure
In the mad one.
She may, crowned with roses,
With staff twined round with lilies,
Roam thro’ flow’ry valleys,
Rule the butterfly-people,
And soft-nourishing dew
With bee-like lips
Drink from the blossom:
Or else she may
With fluttering hair
And gloomy looks
Sigh in the wind
Round rocky cliffs,
Like morn and even.
Like moonbeam’s light,
To mortals appear.
Let us all, then,
Adore the Father!
The old, the mighty,
Who such a beauteous
Deigns to accord
To perishing mortals!
To us alone
Doth he unite her,
With heavenly bonds,
While he commands her,
in joy and sorrow,
As a true spouse
Never to fly us.
All the remaining
Races so poor
Of life-teeming earth.
In children so rich.
Wander and feed
In vacant enjoyment,
And ‘mid the dark sorrows
Bow’d by the heavy
Yoke of Necessity.
But unto us he
Hath his most versatile,
Most cherished daughter
Lovingly greet her
As a beloved one!
Give her the woman’s
Place in our home!
And oh, may the aged
Her gentle spirit
Ne’er seek to harm!
Yet know I her sister,
The older, sedater,
Mine own silent friend;
Oh, may she never,
Till life’s lamp is quench’d,
Turn away from me,—
That noble inciter,
On with clattering trot
Downhill goeth thy path;
Loathsome dizziness ever,
When thou delayest, assails me.
Quick, rattle along,
Over stock and stone let thy trot
Into life straightway lead
Now once more
Up the toilsome ascent
Hasten, panting for breath!
Up, then, nor idle be,—
Striving and hoping, up, up!
Wide, high, glorious the view
Gazing round upon life,
While from mount unto mount
Hovers the spirit eterne,
Life eternal foreboding.
Sideways a roof’s pleasant shade
And a look that promises coolness
On the maidenly threshold.
There refresh thee! And, maiden,
Give me this foaming draught also,
Give me this health-laden look!
Down, now! quicker still, down!
See where the sun sets
Ere he sets, ere old age
Seizeth me in the morass,
Ere my toothless jaws mumble,
And my useless limbs totter;
While drunk with his farewell beam
Hurl me,—a fiery sea
Foaming still in mine eye,—
Hurl me, while dazzled and reeling,
Down to the gloomy portal of hell.
Blow, then, gossip, thy horn,
Speed on with echoing trot,
So that Orcus may know we are coming;
So that our host may with joy
Wait at the door to receive us.
Feels no dread within his heart
At the tempest or the rain.
He whom thou ne’er leavest, Genius,
Will to the rain-clouds,
Will to the hailstorm,
Sing in reply
As the lark sings,
Oh thou on high!
Him whom thou ne’er leavest, Genius,
Thou wilt raise above the mud-track
With thy fiery pinions.
He will wander,
As, with flowery feet,
Over Deucalion’s dark flood,
Python-slaying, light, glorious,
Him whom thou ne’er leavest, Genius,
Thou wilt place upon thy fleecy pinion
When he sleepeth on the rock,—
Thou wilt shelter with thy guardian wing
In the forest’s midnight hour.
Him whom thou ne’er leavest, Genius,
Thou wilt wrap up warmly
In the snow-drift;
Tow’rd the warmth approach the Muses,
Tow’rd the warmth approach the Graces.
Ye Muses, hover round me!
Ye Graces also!
That is water, that is earth,
And the son of water and of earth
Over which I wander,
Like the gods.
Ye are pure, like the heart of the water,
Ye are pure like the marrow of earth,
Hov’ring round me, while I hover
Over water, o’er the earth
Like the gods.
Shall he, then, return,
The small, the dark, the fiery peasant?
Shall he, then, return, waiting
Only thy gifts, oh Father Bromius,
And brightly gleaming, warmth-spreading fire?
Return with joy?
And I, whom ye attended,
Ye Muses and ye Graces,
Whom all awaits that ye,
Ye Muses and ye Graces,
Of circling bliss in life
Have glorified—shall I
Thourt the Genius,
Genius of ages,
Thou’rt what inward glow
To Pindar was,
What to the world
Woe! Woe Inward warmth,
Glow, and vie with
His regal look
Over thee will swiftly glide,—
Linger o’er the cedar’s strength,
Which, to flourish,
Waits him not.
Why doth my lay name thee the last?
Thee, from whom it began,
Thee, in whom it endeth,
Thee, from whom it flows,
Tow’rd thee streams my song.
And a Castalian spring
Runs as a fellow-brook,
Runs to the idle ones,
Mortal, happy ones,
Apart from thee,
Who cov’rest me around,
Not by the elm-tree
Him didst thou visit,
With the pair of doves
Held in his gentle arm,—
With the beauteous garland of roses,—
Caressing him, so blest in his flowers,
Not in the poplar grove,
Near the Sybaris’ strand,
Not on the mountain’s
Didst thou seize him,
When the wheels were rattling,
Wheel on wheel tow’rd the goal,
The sound of the lash
Of youths with victory glowing,
In the dust rolling,
As from the mountain fall
Showers of stones in the vale—
Then thy soul was brightly glowing, Pindar—
Glowing? Poor heart!
There, on the hill,—
But enough glow
Thither to wend,
Where is my cot!
Waiting fav’ring winds, I sat with true friends round me,
Pledging me to patience and to courage,
In the haven.
And they spoke thus with impatience twofold:
“Gladly pray we for thy rapid passage,
Gladly for thy happy voyage; fortune
In the distant world is waiting for thee,
In our arms thoult find thy prize, and love too,
And when morning came, arose an uproar,
And the sailors’ joyous shouts awoke us;
All was stirring, all was living, moving,
Bent on sailing with the first kind zephyr.
And the sails soon in the breeze are swelling,
And the sun with fiery love invites us;
Fill’d the sails are, clouds on high are floating,
On the shore each friend exulting raises
Songs of hope, in giddy joy expecting
Joy the voyage through, as on the morn of sailing,
And the earliest starry nights so radiant.
But by God-sent changing winds ere long he’s driven
Sideways from the course he had intended,
And he feigns as though he would surrender,
While he gently striveth to outwit them,
To his goal, e’en when thus press’d, still faithful.
But from out the damp grey distance rising,
Softly now the storm proclaims its advent,
Presseth down each bird upon the waters,
Presseth down the throbbing hearts of mortals.
And it cometh. At its stubborn fury,
Wisely ev’ry sail the seaman striketh;
With the anguish-laden ball are sporting
Wind and water.
And on yonder shore are gather’d standing,
Friends and lovers, trembling for the bold one:
“Why, alas, remain’d he here not with us!
Ah, the tempest! Cast away by fortune!
Must the good one perish in this fashion?
Might not he perchance…. Ye great immortals!”
Yet he, like a man, stands by his rudder;
With the bark are sporting wind and water,
Wind and water sport not with his bosom:
On the fierce deep looks he, as a master,—
In his gods, or shipwreck’d, or safe landed,
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!”
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,
And votive prayers,
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,
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,
Sows with a tranquil hand
From clouds, as they roll,
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
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
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
Helpful and good!
For that alone
From all the beings
Unto us known.
Hail to the beings,
Unknown and glorious,
Whom we forebode!
From his example
Learn we to know them!
Nature is ever:
On bad and on good
The sun alike shineth;
And on the wicked,
As on the best,
The moon and stars gleam.
Tempest and torrent,
Thunder and hail,
Roar on their path,
Seizing the while,
As they haste onward,
One after another.
Even so, fortune
Gropes ‘mid the throng—
Curly head seizing,—
Seizing the hoary
Head of the sinner.
After laws mighty,
Must all we mortals
Finish the circuit
Of our existence.
Man, and man only
Can do the impossible;
He ‘tis distinguisheth,
Chooseth and judgeth;
He to the moment
Endurance can lend.
He and he only
The good can reward,
The bad can he punish,
Can heal and can save;
All that wanders and strays
Can usefully blend.
And we pay homage
To the immortals
As though they were men,
And did in the great,
What the best, in the small,
Does or might do.
Be the man that is noble,
Both helpful and good.
The right and the useful,
A type of those beings
Our mind hath foreshadow’d!