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

Philina’s Song

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

From ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship’: Translation of Thomas Carlyle

SING me not with such emotion

How the night so lonesome is;

Pretty maids, I’ve got a notion

It is the reverse of this.

For as wife and man are plighted,

And the better half the wife,

So is night to day united,—

Night’s the better half of life.

Can you joy in bustling daytime,—

Day, when none can get his will?

It is good for work, for haytime;

For much other it is ill.

But when in the nightly glooming,

Social lamp on table glows,

Face for faces dear illuming,

And such jest and joyance goes;

When the fiery pert young fellow,

Wont by day to run or ride,

Whispering now some tale would tell O,—

All so gentle by your side;

When the nightingale to lovers

Lovingly her songlet sings,

Which for exiles and sad rovers

Like mere woe and wailing rings;

With a heart how lightsome-feeling

Do ye count the kindly clock,

Which, twelve times deliberate pealing,

Tells you none to-night shall knock!

Therefore, on all fit occasions,

Mark it, maidens, what I sing:

Every day its own vexations,

And the night its joys will bring.