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Thread: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Poems

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    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Poems


    Over all hilltops
    is peace.
    In all the treetops
    you feel
    barely a breeze;
    The birds in the forest have stopped their song.
    Wait, before long
    you too will be still.

    - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


    Good ! The sorcerer, my old master
    left me here alone today !
    Now his spirits, for a change,
    my own wishes shall obey !
    Having memorized
    what to say and do,
    with my powers of will I can
    do some witching, too !
    Go, I say,
    on your way,
    do not tarry,
    water carry,
    let it flow abundantly,
    and prepare a bath for me !
    Come on now, old broom, get dressed,
    these old rags will do just fine !
    You're a slave in any case,
    and today you will be mine !
    May you have two legs,
    and a head on top,
    take the bucket, quick,
    hurry, do not stop !
    Go, I say,
    on your way,
    do not tarry,
    water carry,
    let it flow abundantly,
    and prepare a bath for me !
    Look, how to the bank he's running -
    and now he has reached the river,
    he returns, as quick as lightning,
    once more water to deliver.
    Look ! The tub already
    is almost filled up !
    And now he is filling
    every bowl and cup !
    Stop ! Stand still !
    Heed my will !
    I've enough
    of the stuff !
    I've forgotten - woe is me ! -
    what the magic word may be.
    Oh, the word to change him back
    into what he was before !
    Oh, he runs, and keeps on going -
    Wish you'd be a broom once more !
    He keeps bringing water
    quickly as can be,
    and a hundred rivers
    he pours down on me !
    No, no longer
    can I let him,
    I must get him
    with some trick !
    What a look ! - and what a face !
    I'm beginning to feel sick.
    O, you ugly child of Hades !
    The entire house will drown !
    Everywhere I look, I see
    water, water, running down.
    Be you damned, old broom,
    why won't you obey ?
    Be a stick once more,
    please, I beg you, stay !
    Is the end
    not in sight ?
    I will grab you,
    hold you tight,
    with my axe I'll split the brittle
    old wood smartly down the middle.
    Here he comes again with water !
    Now I'll throw myself upon you,
    and the sharpness of my axe
    I will test, o spirit, on you.
    Well, a perfect hit !
    See how he is split !
    Now there's hope for me,
    and I can breathe free !
    Woe is me ! Both pieces
    come to life anew,
    now, to do my bidding
    I have servants two !
    Help me, o great powers !
    Please, I'm begging you !
    And they're running ! Wet and wetter
    get the stairs, the rooms, the hall !
    What a deluge ! What a flood !
    Lord and master, hear my call !
    Ah, here comes the master !
    I have need of Thee !
    from the spirits that I called
    Sir, deliver me !
    'Back now, broom,
    into the closet !
    Be thou as thou
    wert before !
    Until I, the real master
    call thee forth to serve once more !'

    - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Last edited by Moody; Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 at 02:24 PM. Reason: merged consecutive posts
    And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
    the joy of Spring was never mine;
    Autumn blows through me dread of parting,
    and my heart dreams and longs to die.

    - Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)

    Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind.

    - Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

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    Hmmm ... by whom is the translation?

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    I don't know. Either the info wasn't there or I failed to copy it. It should be indexed on Google though.
    And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
    the joy of Spring was never mine;
    Autumn blows through me dread of parting,
    and my heart dreams and longs to die.

    - Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)

    Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind.

    - Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

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    Post The Erl King

    O who rides by night thro' the woodland so wild?
    It is the fond father embracing his child;
    And close the boy nestles within his loved arm,
    To hold himself fast, and to keep himself warm.

    "O father, see yonder! see yonder!" he says;
    "My boy, upon what dost thou fearfully gaze?"
    "O, 'tis the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud."
    "No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the cloud."

    "O come and go with me, thou loveliest child;
    By many a gay sport shall thy time be beguiled;
    My mother keeps for theee many a fair toy,
    And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy."

    "O father, my father, and did you not hear
    The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?"
    "Be still, my heart's darling--my child, be at ease;
    It was but the wild blast as it sung thro' the trees."

    "O wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest boy?
    My daughter shall tend thee with care and with joy;
    She shall bear three so lightlyt thro' wet and thro' wild,
    And press thee, and kiss thee, and sing to my child."

    "O father, my father, and saw you not plain
    The Erl-King's pale daughter glide past thro' the rain?"
    "Oh yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;
    It was the grey willow that danced to the moon."

    "O come and go with me, no longer delay,
    Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away."
    "O father! O father! now, now, keep your hold,
    The Erl-King has seized me--his grasp is so cold!"

    Sore trembled the father; he spurr'd thro' the wild,
    Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering child;
    He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in dread,
    But, clasp'd to his bosom, the infant was dead.

    tr. Sir Walter Scott

    Who rides so late through the windy night?
    The father holding his young son so tight.
    The boy is cradled safe in his arm,
    He holds him sure and he holds him warm.

    "Why is your face so frightened my son?"
    "The King of elves, father, see him yon?
    The Elfin King with his tail and crown?"
    "It is the fog, my son, streaming down."

    "Yes, you my dear child, come go with me!
    The games I play, you'll like them, come see.
    The shore is coloured with flow'rs in bloom,
    My mother's gold gowns, you will see soon."

    "Oh father, father, can you not hear
    What the elfking promises? I fear!"
    "Be calm, stay quiet my dearest son,
    The wind blows the dry leaves of autumn."

    "My darling boy, won't you come with me?
    I have daughters in whose care you'll be.
    My daughters dance round the fairy ring.
    Each night they'll cradle you, dance and sing."

    "Father, dear father, can you not see
    The elf king's daughter staring at me?"
    "My son, my son, I see it so well:
    Gray meadows on which the moonlight fell."

    "I love you for your beauty of course,
    If free you'll not come, I will use force."
    "Father, dear father, he's touching me.
    Of elf king's hurt, father please, free me."

    Dread grips the father, he spurs the roan,
    In loving arms he feels the boy moan.
    At last, the courtyard, with fear and dread,
    He looks at the child; the boy is dead.

    Translation by Brigitte Dubiel.
    Last edited by Moody; Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 at 02:22 PM. Reason: merged consecutive posts
    And all my youth passed by sad-hearted,
    the joy of Spring was never mine;
    Autumn blows through me dread of parting,
    and my heart dreams and longs to die.

    - Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)

    Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind.

    - Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837)

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    Post Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen - Goethe

    Dich verwirret, Geliebte, die tausendfältige Mischung
    Dieses Blumengewühls über dem Garten umher;
    Viele Namen hörest du an, und immer verdränget
    Mit barbarischem Klang einer den andern im Ohr.
    Alle Gestalten sind ähnlich, und keine gleichet der andern;
    Und so deutet das Chor auf ein geheimes Gesetz,
    Auf ein heiliges Rätsel. O könnt ich dir, liebliche Freundin,
    Überliefern sogleich glücklich das lösende Wort! –
    Werdend betrachte sie nun, wie nach und nach sich die Pflanze,
    Stufenweise geführt, bildet zu Blüten und Frucht.
    Aus dem Samen entwickelt sie sich, sobald ihn der Erde
    Stille befruchtender Schoß hold in das Leben entläßt
    Und dem Reize des Lichts, des heiligen, ewig bewegten,
    Gleich den zartesten Bau keimender Blätter empfiehlt.
    Einfach schlief in dem Samen die Kraft; ein beginnendes Vorbild
    Lag, verschlossen in sich, unter die Hülle gebeugt,
    Blatt und Wurzel und Keim, nur halb geformet und farblos;
    Trocken erhält so der Kern ruhiges Leben bewahrt,
    Quillet strebend empor, sich milder Feuchte vertrauend,
    Und erhebt sich sogleich aus der umgebenden Nacht.
    Aber einfach bleibt die Gestalt, der ersten Erscheinung,
    Und so bezeichnet sich auch unter den Pflanzen das Kind.
    Gleich darauf ein folgender Trieb, sich erhebend, erneuere
    Knoten auf Knoten getürmt, immer das erste Gebild.
    Zwar nicht immer das gleiche; denn mannigfaltig erzeugt sich,
    Ausgebildet, du siehsts, immer das folgende Blatt,
    Ausgedehnter, gekerbter, getrennter in Spitzen und Teile,
    Die verwachsen vorher ruhten im untern Organ.
    Und so erreicht es zuerst die höchst bestimmte Vollendung,
    Die bei manchem Geschlecht dich zum Erstaunen bewegt.
    Viel gerippt und gezackt, auf mastig strotzender Fläche,
    Scheinet die Fülle des Triebs frei und unendlich zu sein.
    Doch hier hält die Natur, mit mächtigen Händen, die Bildung
    An und lenket sie sanft in das Vollkommnere hin.
    Mäßiger leitet sie nun den Saft, verengt die Gefäße,
    Und gleich zeigt die Gestalt zärtere Wirkungen an.
    Stille zieht sich der Trieb der strebenden Ränder zurücke,
    Und die Rippe des Stiels bildet sich völliger aus.
    Blattlos aber und schnell erhebt sich der zärtere Stengel,
    Und ein Wundergebild zieht den Betrachtenden an.
    Rings im Kreise stellet sich nun, gezählet und ohne
    Zahl, das kleinere Blatt neben dem ähnlichen hin.
    Um die Achse gedrängt, entscheidet der bergende Kelch sich,
    Der zur höchsten Gestalt farbige Kronen entläßt.
    Also prangt die Natur in hoher, voller Erscheinung,
    Und sie zeiget, gereiht, Glieder an Glieder gestuft.
    Immer staunst du aufs neue, sobald sich am Stengel die Blume
    Über dem schlanken Gerüst wechselnder Blätter bewegt.
    Aber die Herrlichkeit wird des neuen Schaffens Verkündung.
    Ja, das farbige Blatt fühlet die göttliche Hand;
    Und zusammen zieht es sich schnell; die zartesten Formen,
    Zwiefach streben sie vor, sich zu vereinen bestimmt.
    Traulich stehen sie nun, die holden Paare, beisammen,
    Zahlreich ordnen sie sich um den geweihten Altar.
    Hymen schwebet herbei, und herrliche Düfte, gewaltig,
    Strömen süßen Geruch, alles belebend, umher.
    Nun vereinzelt schwellen sogleich unzählige Keime,
    Hold in den Mutterschoß schwellender Früchte gehüllt.
    Und hier schließt die Natur den Ring der ewigen Kräfte;
    Doch ein neuer sogleich fasset den vorigen an,
    Daß die Kette sich fort durch alle Zeiten verlänge,
    Und das Ganze belebt, so wie das Einzelne, sei.
    Wende nun, o Geliebte, den Blick zum bunten Gewimmel,
    Das verwirrend nicht mehr sich vor dem Geiste bewegt.
    Jede Pflanze verkündet dir nun die ewgen Gesetze,
    Jede Blume, sie spricht lauter und lauter mit dir.
    Aber entzifferst du hier der Göttin heilige Lettern,
    Überall siehst du sie dann, auch in verändertem Zug.
    Kriechend zaudre die Raupe, der Schmetterling eile geschäftig,
    Bildsam ändre der Mensch selbst die bestimmte Gestalt.
    O, gedenke denn auch, wie aus dem Keim der Bekanntschaft
    Nach und nach in uns holde Gewohnheit entsproß,
    Freundschaft sich mit Macht aus unserm Innern enthüllte,
    Und wie Amor zuletzt Blüten und Früchte gezeugt.
    Denke, wie mannigfach bald die, bald jene Gestalten,
    Still entfaltend, Natur unsern Gefühlen geliehn!
    Freue dich auch des heutigen Tags! Die heilige Liebe
    Strebt zu der höchsten Frucht gleicher Gesinnungen auf,
    Gleicher Ansicht der Dinge, damit in harmonischem Anschaun
    Sich verbinde das Paar, finde die höhere Welt.

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    Post Goethe

    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
    (y´hän vôlf´gäng fn gö´t) (KEY) , 1749–1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist, b. Frankfurt. One of the great masters of world literature, his genius embraced most fields of human endeavor; his art and thought are epitomized in his great dramatic poem Faust. 1 Early Life and WorksGoethe describes his happy and sheltered childhood in his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit (1811–33). In 1765 he went to Leipzig to study law. There he spent his time in the usual student dissipations, which perhaps contributed to a hemorrhage that required a long convalescence at Frankfurt. His earliest lyric poems, set to music, were published in 1769. In 1770–71 he completed his law studies at Strasbourg, where the acquaintance of Herder filled him with enthusiasm for Shakespeare, for Germany’s medieval past, and for the German folk song. 2Goethe’s lyric poems for Friederike Brion, daughter of the pastor of nearby Sesenheim, were written at this time as new texts for folk-song melodies. Among the lasting influences of Goethe’s youth were J. J. Rousseau and Spinoza, who appealed to Goethe’s mystic and poetic feeling for nature in its ever-changing aspects. It was in this period that Goethe began his lifelong study of animals and plants and his research in biological morphology. 3Goethe first attracted public notice with the drama Götz von Berlichingen (1773) (see Berlichingen, Götz von), a pure product of Sturm und Drang. Still more important was the epistolary novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774, tr. The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1957) which Goethe, on the verge of suicide, wrote after his unrequited love for Charlotte Buff. Werther gave him immediate fame and was widely translated. While the writing had helped Goethe regain stability, the novel’s effect on the public was the opposite; it encouraged morbid sensibility. 4 The Weimar YearsIn 1775, Goethe was invited to visit Charles Augustus, duke of Saxe-Weimar, at whose court he was to spend the rest of his life. For ten years Goethe was chief minister of state at Weimar. He later retained only the directorship of the state theater and the scientific institutions. 5 Italian and French InfluencesA trip to Italy (1786–88) fired his enthusiasm for the classical ideal, as Goethe tells us in his travel account Die italienische Reise (1816) and in Winckelmann und sein Jahrhundert [Winckelmann and his century] (1805). Also written under the classical impact were the historical drama Egmont (1788), well known for Beethoven’s incidental music; Römische Elegien (1788); the psychological drama Torquato Tasso (1789); the domestic epic Hermann und Dorothea (1797); and the final, poetic version (1787) of the drama Iphigenie auf Tauris. 6In 1792 Goethe accompanied Duke Charles Augustus as official historian in the allied campaign against revolutionary France. He appreciated the principles of the French Revolution but resented the methods employed. A reformer in his own small state, Goethe wished to see social change accomplished from above. Later he refused to share in the patriotic fervor that swept Germany during the Napoleonic Wars. 7 Novels and PoetryHis novel Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809, tr. Elective Affinities, 1963) is one of his most significant novels, but perhaps his best-known work in that genre is the Wilhelm Meister series. The novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre [the apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister] (1796), became the prototype of the German Bildungsroman, or novel of character development. In 1829 the last installment of Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre [Wilhelm Meister’s journeyman years], a series of episodes, was published. 8His most enduring work, indeed, one of the peaks of world literature, is the dramatic poem Faust. The first part was published in 1808, the second shortly after Goethe’s death. Goethe recast the traditional Faust legend and made it one of the greatest poetic and philosophic creations the world possesses. His main departure from the original is no doubt the salvation of Faust, the erring seeker, in the mystic last scene of the second part. 9Many women passed through Goethe’s life, with Charlotte von Stein probably the most intellectual of them. He married (1806) Christiane Vulpius (1765–1816), who had borne him a son. Goethe’s unsuccessful marriage offer (1822) to young Ulrike von Levetzow inspired his poems Trilogie der Leidenschaft [trilogy of passion]. Westöstlicher Diwan (1819), a collection of Goethe’s finest lyric poetry, was inspired by his young friend Marianne von Willemer, who figures as Suleika in the cycle. The Diwan strikes a new note in German poetry, introducing Eastern elements derived from Goethe’s reading of the Persian poet Hafiz. 10 Other AccomplishmentsIncreasingly aloof from national, political, or even literary partisanship, Goethe became more and more the Olympian divinity, to whose shrine at Weimar all Europe flocked. The variety and extent of his accomplishments and activities were monumental. Goethe knew French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and translated works by Diderot, Voltaire, Cellini, Byron, and others. His approach to science was one of sensuous experience and poetic intuition. Well known is his stubborn attack on Newton’s theory of light in Zur Farbenlehre (1810). A corresponding treatise on acoustics remained unfinished. 11An accomplished amateur musician, Goethe conducted instrumental and vocal ensembles and directed opera performances in Weimar. His search for an operatic composer with whom he could collaborate failed; although many of his operetta librettos were composed, none achieved lasting fame. Goethe’s exquisite lyrical poems, often inspired by existing songs, challenged contemporary composers to give their best in music, and such songs as “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt” [only the lonely heart], “Kennst du das Land” [know’st thou the land], and Erlkönig were among the song texts most often set to music. 12Goethe’s aim was to make his life a concrete example of the full range of human potential, and he succeeded as few others did. The friendship of Friedrich von Schiller and his death (1805) made a deep impression on Goethe. He is buried, alongside Schiller, in the ducal crypt at Weimar. The opinions of Goethe are recorded not only in his own writings but also in conversations recorded by his secretary J. P. Eckermann and in extensive correspondence with the composer Zelter and with Schiller, Byron, Carlyle, Manzoni, and others. It would be difficult to overestimate Goethe’s influence on the subsequent history of German literature. 13 BibliographyThe bulk of Goethe’s work is immense; the most recent complete edition is the so-called Weimar edition (133 vol. in 140, 1887–1919). Most of his works have been translated into English, notably by T. Carlyle. Biographies include those by G. H. Lewes (1855), J. Sime (1888), F. Gundolf (1916, in German), J. G. Robertson (1927), and N. Boyle (Vol. I, 1991; Vol. II, 2000); see also L. Lewisohn, ed., Goethe: The Story of a Man (1949). Among well-known studies are essays by Carlyle, Emerson, C. Thomas, G. Santayana, A. Gide, A. Schweitzer, and T. Mann. See studies by K. Viëtor, Goethe, the Thinker (tr. 1950); R. Peacock, Goethe’s Major Plays (1959, repr. 1966); R. Gray, Goethe: A Critical Introduction (1967); E. C. Mason, Goethe’s Faust (1967); E. A. Blackall, Goethe and the Novel (1976); M. A. Carlson, Goethe and the Weimar Theater, (1978); and K. M. Wheeler (1984).

    .....Goethe online resource
    .....Collected works of Goethe
    .....Large selection of books/articles by & about Goethe
    .....Quotations by Goethe
    .....auf Deutsch
    "Let your love towards life, be love towards your highest hope:
    and let your highest hope be the highest idea of life."
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche~

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    Post Prometheus - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1773

    Wonderful poem in all respects; scroll down for the English translation.


    Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus,
    Mit Wolkendunst
    Und übe, dem Knaben gleich,
    Der Disteln köpft,
    An Eichen dich und Bergeshöhn;
    Mußt mir meine Erde
    Doch lassen stehn
    Und meine Hütte, die du nicht gebaut,
    Und meinen Herd,
    Um dessen Glut
    Du mich beneidest.

    Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres
    Unter der Sonn als euch, Götter!
    Ihr nähret kümmerlich
    Von Opfersteuern
    Und Gebetshauch
    Eure Majestät
    Und darbtet, wären
    Nicht Kinder und Bettler
    Hoffnungsvolle Toren.

    Da ich ein Kind war,
    Nicht wußte, wo aus noch ein,
    Kehrt ich mein verirrtes Auge
    Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär
    Ein Ohr, zu hören meine Klage,
    Ein Herz wie meins,
    Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.

    Wer half mir
    Wider der Titanen Übermut?
    Wer rettete vom Tode mich,
    Von Sklaverei?
    Hast du nicht alles selbst vollendet,
    Heilig glühend Herz?
    Und glühtest jung und gut,
    Betrogen, Rettungsdank
    Dem Schlafenden da droben?

    Ich dich ehren? Wofür?
    Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert
    Je des Beladenen?
    Hast du die Tränen gestillet
    Je des Geängsteten?
    Hat nicht mich zum Manne geschmiedet
    Die allmächtige Zeit
    Und das ewige Schicksal,
    Meine Herrn und deine?

    Wähntest du etwa,
    Ich sollte das Leben hassen,
    In Wüsten fliehen,
    Weil nicht alle
    Blütenträume reiften?

    Hier sitz ich, forme Menschen
    Nach meinem Bilde,
    Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,
    Zu leiden, zu weinen,
    Zu genießen und zu freuen sich,
    Und dein nich zu achten,
    Wie ich!


    Cover your heaven, Zeus,
    With cloudy vapors
    And like a boy
    beheading thistles
    Practice on oaks and mountain peaks--
    Still you must leave
    My earth intact
    And my small hovel, which you did not build,
    And this my hearth
    Whose glowing heat
    You envy me.

    I know of nothing more wretched
    Under the sun than you gods!
    Meagerly you nourish
    Your majesty
    On dues of sacrifice
    And breath of prayer
    And would suffer want
    But for children and beggars,
    Poor hopeful fools.

    Once too, a child,
    Not knowing where to turn,
    I raised bewildered eyes
    Up to the sun, as if above there were
    An ear to hear my complaint,
    A heart like mine
    To take pity on the oppressed.

    Who helped me
    Against the Titans' arrogance?
    Who rescued me from death,
    From slavery?
    Did not my holy and glowing heart,
    Unaided, accomplish all?
    And did it not, young and good,
    Cheated, glow thankfulness
    For its safety to him, to the sleeper above?

    I pay homage to you? For what?
    Have you ever relieved
    The burdened man's anguish?
    Have you ever assuaged
    The frightened man's tears?
    Was it not omnipotent Time
    That forged me into manhood,
    And eternal Fate,
    My masters and yours?

    Or did you think perhaps
    That I should hate this life,
    Flee into deserts
    Because not all
    The blossoms of dream grew ripe?

    Here I sit, forming men
    In my image,
    A race to resemble me:
    To suffer, to weep,
    To enjoy, to be glad--
    And never to heed you,
    Like me!

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