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


By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translation of John Sullivan Dwight

BLACKEN thy heavens, Jove,

With thunder-clouds,

And exercise thee, like a boy

Who thistles crops,

With smiting oaks and mountain-tops:

Yet must leave me standing

My own firm earth;

Must leave my cottage, which thou didst not build,

And my warm hearth,

Whose cheerful glow

Thou enviest me.

I know naught more pitiful

Under the sun, than you, gods!

Ye nourish scantily

With altar taxes

And with cold lip-service,

This your majesty;—

Would perish, were not

Children and beggars

Credulous fools.

When I was a child,

And knew not whence or whither,

I would turn my ’wildered eye

To the sun, as if up yonder were

An ear to hear to my complaining—

A heart, like mine,

On the oppressed to feel compassion.

Who helped me

When I braved the Titans’ insolence?

Who rescued me from death,

From slavery?

Hast thou not all thyself accomplished,

Holy-glowing heart?

And, glowing, young, and good,

Most ignorantly thanked

The slumberer above there?

I honor thee! For what?

Hast thou the miseries lightened

Of the down-trodden?

Hast thou the tears ever banished

From the afflicted?

Have I not to manhood been molded

By omnipotent Time,

And by Fate everlasting,

My lords and thine?

Dreamedst thou ever

I should grow weary of living,

And fly to the desert,

Since not all our

Pretty dream buds ripen?

Here sit I, fashion men

In mine own image,—

A race to be like me,

To weep and to suffer,

To be happy and enjoy themselves,

To be careless of thee too,

As I!