Poems of Goethe


[This sweet Ballad, and the one entitled The Maid of the Mill's Repentance, were written on the occasion of a visit paid by Goethe to Switzerland. The Maid of the Mill's Treachery, to which the latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following year.]


SAY, sparkling streamlet, whither thou

           Art going!
With joyous mien thy waters now

           Are flowing.
Why seek the vale so hastily?
Attend for once, and answer me!


Oh youth, I was a brook indeed;

           But lately
My bed they've deepen'd, and my speed

           Swell'd greatly,
That I may haste to yonder mill.
And so I'm full and never still.


The mill thou seekest in a mood

And know'st not how my youthful blood

           'S tormented.
But doth the miller's daughter fair
Gaze often on thee kindly there?


She opes the shutters soon as light

           Is gleaming;
And comes to bathe her features bright

           And beaming.
So full and snow-white is her breast,--
I feel as hot as steam suppress'd.


If she in water can inflame

           Such ardour,
Surely, then, flesh and blood to tame

           Is harder.
When once is seen her beauteous face,
One ever longs her steps to trace.


Over the wheel I, roaring, bound,

And ev'ry spoke whirls swiftly round,

           And loudly.
Since I have seen the miller's daughter,
With greater vigour flows the water.


Like others, then, can grief, poor brook,

           Oppress thee?
"Flow on!"--thus she'll, with smiling look,

           Address thee.
With her sweet loving glance, oh say,
Can she thy flowing current stay?


'Tis sad, 'tis sad to have to speed

           From yonder;
I wind, and slowly through the mead

           Would wander;
And if the choice remain'd with me,
Would hasten back there presently.


Farewell, thou who with me dost prove

           Love's sadness!
Perchance some day thou'lt breathe of love

           And gladness.
Go, tell her straight, and often too,
The boy's mute hopes and wishes true.