|The Poems of Goethe|
Translated in the original metres
by Edgar Alfred Bowring
The morn arrived; his footstep quickly scared
The gentle sleep that round my senses clung,
And I, awak'ning, from my cottage fared,
And up the mountain side with light heart sprung;
At every step I felt my gaze ensnared
By new-born flow'rs that full of dew-drops hung;
The youthful day awoke with ecstacy,
And all things quicken'd were, to quicken me.
And as I mounted, from the valley rose
A streaky mist, that upward slowly spread,
Then bent, as though my form it would enclose,
Then, as on pinions, soar'd above my head:
My gaze could now on no fair view repose,
in mournful veil conceal'd, the world seem'd dead;
The clouds soon closed around me, as a tomb,
And I was left alone in twilight gloom.
At once the sun his lustre seem'd to pour,
And through the mist was seen a radiant light;
Here sank it gently to the ground once more,
There parted it, and climb'd o'er wood and height.
How did I yearn to greet him as of yore,
After the darkness waxing doubly bright!
The airy conflict ofttimes was renew'd,
Then blinded by a dazzling glow I stood.
Ere long an inward impulse prompted me
A hasty glance with boldness round to throw;
At first mine eyes had scarcely strength to see,
For all around appear'd to burn and glow.
Then saw I, on the clouds borne gracefully,
A godlike woman hov'ring to and fro.
In life I ne'er had seen a form so fair--
She gazed at me, and still she hover'd there.
"Dost thou not know me?" were the words she said
In tones where love and faith were sweetly bound;
"Knowest thou not Her who oftentimes hath shed
The purest balsam in each earthly wound?
Thou knows't me well; thy panting heart I led
To join me in a bond with rapture crown'd.
Did I not see thee, when a stripling, yearning
To welcome me with tears, heartfelt and burning?"
"Yes!" I exclaim'd, whilst, overcome with joy,
I sank to earth; "I long have worshipp'd thee;
Thou gav'st me rest, when passions rack'd the boy,
Pervading ev'ry limb unceasingly;
Thy heav'nly pinions thou didst then employ
The scorching sunbeams to ward off from me.
From thee alone Earth's fairest gifts I gain'd,
Through thee alone, true bliss can be obtain'd.
"Thy name I know not; yet I hear thee nam'd
By many a one who boasts thee as his own;
Each eye believes that tow'rd thy form 'tis aim'd,
Yet to most eyes thy rays are anguish-sown.
Ah! whilst I err'd, full many a friend I claim'd,
Now that I know thee, I am left alone;
With but myself can I my rapture share,
I needs must veil and hide thy radiance fair.
She smiled, and answering said: "Thou see'st how wise,
How prudent 'twas but little to unveil!
Scarce from the clumsiest cheat are clear'd thine eyes,
Scarce hast thou strength thy childish bars to scale,
When thou dost rank thee 'mongst the deities,
And so man's duties to perform would'st fail!
How dost thou differ from all other men?
Live with the world in peace, and know thee then!"
"Oh, pardon me," I cried, "I meant it well:
Not vainly did'st thou bless mine eyes with light;
For in my blood glad aspirations swell,
The value of thy gifts I know aright!
Those treasures in my breast for others dwell,
The buried pound no more I'll hide from sight.
Why did I seek the road so anxiously,
If hidden from my brethren 'twere to be?"
And as I answer'd, tow'rd me turn'd her face,
With kindly sympathy, that god-like one;
Within her eye full plainly could I trace
What I had fail'd in, and what rightly done.
She smiled, and cured me with that smile's sweet grace,
To new-born joys my spirit soar'd anon;
With inward confidence I now could dare
To draw yet closer, and observe her there.
Through the light cloud she then stretch'd forth her hand,
As if to bid the streaky vapour fly:
At once it seemed to yield to her command,
Contracted, and no mist then met mine eye.
My glance once more survey'd the smiling land,
Unclouded and serene appear'd the sky.
Nought but a veil of purest white she held,
And round her in a thousand folds it swell'd.
"I know thee, and I know thy wav'ring will.
I know the good that lives and glows in thee!"--
Thus spake she, and methinks I hear her still--
"The prize long destined, now receive from me;
That blest one will be safe from ev'ry ill,
Who takes this gift with soul of purity,--"
The veil of Minstrelsy from Truth's own hand,
Of sunlight and of morn's sweet fragrance plann'd.
"And when thou and thy friends at fierce noon-day
Are parched with heat, straight cast it in the air!
Then Zephyr's cooling breath will round you play,
Distilling balm and flowers' sweet incense there;
The tones of earthly woe will die away,
The grave become a bed of clouds so fair,
To sing to rest life's billows will be seen,
The day be lovely, and the night serene."--
Come, then, my friends! and whensoe'er ye find
Upon your way increase life's heavy load;
If by fresh-waken'd blessings flowers are twin'd
Around your path, and golden fruits bestow'd,
We'll seek the coming day with joyous mind!
Thus blest, we'll live, thus wander on our road
And when our grandsons sorrow o'er our tomb,
Our love, to glad their bosoms, still shall bloom.