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

The Godlike

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translation of John Sullivan Dwight

NOBLE be Man,

Helpful and good!

For that alone

Doth distinguish him

From all the beings

Which we know.

Hail to the Unknown, the

Higher Beings

Felt within us!

His pattern teach us

Faith in them!

For unfeeling

Is Nature:

Still shineth the sun

Over good and evil;

And to the sinner

Smile, as to the best,

The moon and the stars.

Wind and waters,

Thunder and hailstones,

Rustle on their way,

Smiting down as

They dash along,

One for another.

Just so does Fate

Grope round in the crowd,

Seize now the innocent,

Curly-haired boy,

Now on the old, bald

Crown of the villain.

By great adamantine

Laws everlasting,

Here we must all our

Round of existence

Faithfully finish.

There can none but Man

Perform the Impossible.

He understandeth,

Chooseth, and judgeth;

He can impart to the

Moment duration.

He alone may

The Good reward,

The Guilty punish,

Mend and deliver;

All the wayward, anomalous

Bind in the Useful.

And the Immortals—

Them we reverence,

As if they were men, and

Did, on a grand scale,

What the best man in little

Does, or fain would do.

Let noble Man

Be helpful and good!

Ever creating

The Right and the Useful—

Type of those loftier

Beings of whom the heart whispers!