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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Chorus of the Archangels

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

From ‘Faust,’ the Prologue in Heaven: Translation of Percy Bysshe Shelley

RAPHAEL—The sun makes music as of old

Amid the rival spheres of heaven,

On its predestined circle rolled

With thunder speed; the angels even

Draw strength from gazing on its glance,

Though none its meaning fathom may;

The world’s unwithered countenance

Is bright as at creation’s day.

Gabriel—And swift and swift with rapid lightness

The adorned earth spins silently,

Alternating Elysian brightness

With deep and dreadful night; the sea

Foams in broad billows from the deep

Up to the rocks, and rocks and ocean,

Onward, with spheres which never sleep,

Are hurried in eternal motion.

Michael—And tempests in contention roar

From land to sea, from sea to land;

And raging, weave a chain of power,

Which girds the earth as with a band.

A flashing desolation there

Flames before the thunder’s way;

But thy servants, Lord, revere

The gentle changes of thy day.

The angels draw strength from thy glance,

Though no one comprehend thee may;

Thy world’s unwithered countenance

Is bright as on creation’s day.