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Poems of Goethe

NEMESIS.

WHEN through the nations stalks contagion wild,

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.

                                1807-8.