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Poems of Goethe

III.  ATONEMENT.

[Composed, when 74 years old, for a Polish lady, who excelled in
playing on the pianoforte.]

PASSION brings reason--who can pacify

An anguish'd heart whose loss hath been so great?
Where are the hours that fled so swiftly by?

In vain the fairest thou didst gain from fate;
Sad is the soul, confused the enterprise;

The glorious world, how on the sense it dies!

In million tones entwined for evermore,

Music with angel-pinions hovers there,
To pierce man's being to its inmost core,

Eternal beauty has its fruit to bear;
The eye grows moist, in yearnings blest reveres
The godlike worth of music as of tears.

And so the lighten'd heart soon learns to see

That it still lives, and beats, and ought to beat,
Off'ring itself with joy and willingly,

In grateful payment for a gift so sweet.
And then was felt,--oh may it constant prove!--
The twofold bliss of music and of love.

                                1823.
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