“O, never may I hope to gain
What dwells from me so far;
It stands as high, it looks as bright,
As yonder burning star.”
Why, who would seek to woo the stars
Down from their glorious sphere?
Enough it is to worship them,
When nights are calm and clear.
“Oh, I look up and worship too—
My star it shines by day—
Then let me weep the livelong night
The while it is away.”
[This fine piece, written originally in 1805, on Schiller’s death, was altered and recast by Goethe in 1815, on the occasion of the performance on the stage of the Song of the Bell. Hence the allusion in the last verse.]
To this city joy reveal it!
Peace as its first signal peal it!
(Song of the Bell—concluding lines).
And so it proved! The nation felt,
That peaceful signal, and, with blessings fraught,
A new-born joy appeared; in gladsome song
To hail the youthful princely pair we sought;
While in the living, ever-swelling throng
Mingled the crowds from every region brought,
And on the stage, in festal pomp arrayed,
The HOMAGE OF THE ARTS we saw displayed.
When, lo! a fearful midnight sound I hear,
That with a dull and mournful echo rings.
And can it be that of our friend so dear
It tells, to whom each wish so fondly clings?
Shall death o’ercome a life that all revere?
How such a loss to all confusion brings!
How such a parting we must ever rue!
The world is weeping—shall not we weep, too?
He was our own! How social, yet how
Seemed in the light of day his noble mind!
How was his nature, pleasing yet sedate,
Now for glad converse joyously inclined,
Then swiftly changing, spirit-fraught elate,
Life’s plan with deep-felt meaning it designed,
Fruitful alike in counsel and in deed!
This have we proved, this tested, in our need.
He was our own! O may that thought
O’ercome the voice of wailing and of woe!
He might have sought the Lasting, safe at rest
In harbor, when the tempest ceased to blow.
Meanwhile his mighty spirit onward pressed
Where goodness, beauty, truth, forever grow;
And in his rear, in shadowy outline, lay
The vulgar, which we all, alas, obey!
Now doth he deck the garden-turret fair
Where the stars’ language first illumed his soul,
As secretly yet clearly through the air
On the eterne, the living sense it stole;
And to his own, and our great profit, there
Exchangeth to the seasons as they roll;
Thus nobly doth he vanquish, with renown,
The twilight and the night that weigh us down.