Poems of Goethe




WHEN in spring the gentle rain

Breathes into the flower new birth,
When the green and happy plain

Smiles upon the sons of earth,
Haste to give what help we may,

Little elves of wondrous might!
Whether good or evil they,

Pity for them feels the sprite.


WHEN the moist and balmy gale

Round the verdant meadow sighs,
Odors sweet in misty veil

At the twilight-hour arise.
Murmurings soft of calm repose

Rock the heart to child-like rest,
And the day's bright portals close

On the eyes with toil oppress'd.

Night already reigns o'er all,

Strangely star is link'd to star;
Planets mighty, sparkling small,

Glitter near and gleam afar.
Gleam above in clearer night,

Glitter in the glassy sea;
Pledging pure and calm delight,

Rules the moon in majesty.

Now each well-known hour is over,

Joy and grief have pass'd away;
Feel betimes! thoult then recover:

Trust the newborn eye of day.
Vales grow verdant, hillocks teem,

Shady nooks the bushes yield,
And with waving, silvery gleam,

Rocks the harvest in the field.

Wouldst thou wish for wish obtain,

Look upon yon glittering ray!
Lightly on thee lies the chain,

Cast the shell of sleep away!
Tarry not, but be thou bold,

When the many loiter still;
All with ease may be controll'd

By the man of daring will.


HARK! the storm of hours draws near,
Loudly to the spirit-ear
Signs of coming day appear.
Rocky gates are wildly crashing,
Phoebus' wheels are onward dashing;

(A wonderful noise proclaims the approach of the sun.)

Light doth mighty sounds beget!
Pealing loud as rolling thunder,
Eye and ear it fills with wonder,

Though itself unconscious yet.
Downward steals it,'mongst the flowers
Seeking deeper, stiller bowers,
'Mongst the foliage, 'neath the rock;
Thou'lt be deafened by the shock!



[Hovering in the higher regions of air, and hearing the immortal
part of Faust.]

THE spirit-region's noble limb

Hath 'scaled the Archfiend's power;
For we have strength to rescue him

Who labours ev'ry hour.
And if he feels within his breast

A ray of love from heaven.
He's met by all the squadron blest

With welcome gladly given.


Yonder roses, from the holy
Hands of penitents so lowly,
Help'd to render us victorious,
And to do the deed all-glorious;
For they gain'd us this soul-treasure.

Evil ones those roses banish'd,

Devils, when we met them, vanish'd.
Spirits felt love's pangs with pleasure,
Where hell's torments used to dwell;
E'en the hoary king of hell
Felt sharp torments through him run.
Shout for joy! the prize is won.


Strains of mortality

Long have oppress'd us;
Pure could they ever be,

If of asbestos.
If mighty spirit-strength

Elements ever
Knew how to seize at length,

Angels could never
Link'd twofold natures move,

Where single-hearted;
By nought but deathless love

Can they be parted.


See where a spirit-race

Bursts on the sight!
Dimly their forms I trace

Round the far height.
Each cloud becometh clear,
While the bright troops appear

Of the blest boys,

From the Earth's burden free,
In a glad company

Drinking in joys,
Born of the world above,

Springtime and bliss.
May they forerunners prove
Of a more perfect love,

Link'd on to this!


Thus as a chrysalis

Gladly we gain him,
And as a pledge of bliss

Safely retain him;
When from the shell he's free

Whereby he's tainted,
Perfect and fair he'll be,

Holy and sainted.

(In the highest, purest cell.)

Wide is the prospect here,

Raised is the soul;
Women on high appear,

Seeking their goal.

'Mongat them the radiant one,

Queen of the skies,
In her bright starry crown

Greets my glad eyes.

                        (With ecstasy.)

Thou who art of earth the queen.

Let me, 'neath the blue
Heav'nly canopy serene

Thy sweet mystery view!
Grant the gentle solemn force

Which the breast can move.
And direct our onward course

Tow'rd thy perfect love.
Dauntless let our courage be,

At thy bright behest;
Mild our ardour suddenly,

When thou bidd'st us rest.
Virgin, type of holiness,

Mother, honour-crown'd,
Thou whom we as queen confess,

Godlike and renowned.

Round her, in gentle play,

Light clouds are stealing;
Penitents fair are they,

Who, humbly kneeling,
Sip in the ether sweet,
As they for grace entreat.

Thou, who art from passions free,

Kindly art inclin'd,
When the sons of frailty

Seek thee, meek in mind.

Borne by weakness' stream along,

Hard it is to save them;
Who can burst lust's chains so strong,

That, alas, enslave them?
O how soon the foot may slip,

When the smooth ground pressing!
O, how false are eye and lip,

False a breath caressing!

                           MATER GLORLOSA hovers past.


To bring realms on high

In majesty soaring,
O, hark to our cry

Thy pity imploring,
Thou help to the cheerless,
In glory so peerless!

MAGNA PECCATRIX (St. Luke vii. 36).

By the love, which o'er the feet

Of thy God-transfigur'd Son
Dropp'd the team, like balsam sweet,

Spite of ev'ry scornful one;
By the box of ointment rare,

Whence the drops so fragrant fell;
By the locks, whose gentle care

Dried His holy members well--

muller SAMARITANA (St, John iv.).

By the well where Abram erst

Drove his flocks to drink their fill;
By the bucket which the thirst

Of the Saviour served to still;
By the fountain, balm-exhaling,

That from yon bright region flows,
Ever clear and never failing.

As round ev'ry world it goes--

MARIA AEGYPTIACA (Acta Sanctorum).

By the sacred spot immortal,

Where the Lord's remains they plac'd;
By the arm, that from the portal

Drove me back with warning haste;
By my forty years of lowly

Penance in a desert land;
By the farewell greetings holy

That I wrote upon the sand--


Thou who ne'er thy radiant face

From the greatest sinners hides,
Thou who Thine atoning grace

Through eternity provident,

Let this soul, by virtue stirr'd,

Self-forgetful though when living,
That perceived not that it err'd,

Feel thy mercy, sin forgiving!

(Once named Margaret, pressing near them.)

Oh radiance-spreading One,

Who equall'd art by none,
In mercy view mine ecstasy!

For he whom erst I loved,

No more by sorrow proved,
Returns at length to me!

(Approaching as they hover round.)

He now in strength of limb

Far doth outweigh us,
And, as we tended him,

So will repay us.
Early removed were we

Far from life's story;
Train'd now himself, will he

Train us in glory.

THE PENITENT, once named Margaret.

Link'd with the noble band of spirits,

Scarce can the new one feel or see
The radiant life he now inherits,

So like that holy band is he.
See how he bursts each bond material,

And parts the olden veil at length,--
In vesture clad of grace ethereal,

Comes in the glow of youthful strength.
Oh, let me guide his steps victorious,

While dazzled by the new-born light.


Come! raise thyself to spheres more glorious,
He'll follow when thou matzoth his sight.

(Prostrated in adoration.)

O repentant sinful ones,

On that bright face gaze ye,
And, in grateful orisons,

Your blest fortune praise ye!
Be each virtue of the mind

To thy service given!
Virgin, mother, be thou kind!

Goddess, queen of heaven!


Each thing of mortal birth

Is but a type
What was of feeble worth

Here becomes ripe.
What was a mystery

Here meets the eye;
The ever-womanly

Draws us on high.