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The Goethe Treasury: Selected Prose and Poetry

The Goethe Treasury: Selected Prose and Poetry

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann

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Best known today as the author of Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) first exploded into the public consciousness with The Sorrows of Young Werther when he was twenty-four. He was already a respected poet by then; and in addition to these forms, he wrote travelogues, autobiographical sketches, essays, letters, and proverbs in rhyme and prose. This collection offers outstanding examples of each genre from the great German writer's prolific career.
The poems range in theme from youthful romantic obsessions to mature reflections on life. "The Erl-King" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" appear among the ballads, and his fiction in this collection includes the entire text of Werther and passages from Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and other works. Other writings feature observations on travel in Italy, criticism of the works of Shakespeare and Byron, and letters to friends and family. These sensitive translations by Sir Walter Scott, Stephen Spender, Thomas Carlyle, and others were specially selected by the Nobel laureate and giant of modern German literature, Thomas Mann, who provides an informative introduction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486174525
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/14/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 604 KB

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The Goethe Treasury

Selected Prose and Poetry


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-17452-5


Poems of Youth and Love


    Fillest hill and vale again,
    Still, with softening light!
    Loosest from the world's cold chain
    All my soul to-night!

    Spreadest round me, far and nigh,
    Soothingly, thy smile;
    From thee, as from friendship's eye,
    Sorrow shrinks the while.

    Every echo thrills my heart –
    Glad and gloomy mood.
    Joy and sorrow both have part
    In my solitude.

    River, river, glide along!
    I am sad, alas!
    Fleeting things are love and song –
    Even so they pass!

    I have had and I have lost
    What I long for yet;
    Ah! why will we, to our cost,
    Simple joys forget?

    River, river, glide along,
    Without stop or stay!
    Murmur, whisper to my song
    In melodious play, –

    Whether on a winter's night,
    Rise thy swollen floods,
    Or in spring thou hast delight
    Watering the young buds.

    Happy he, who, hating none,
    Leaves the world's dull noise,
    And, with trusty friend alone,
    Quietly enjoys

    What, forever unexpressed,
    Hid from common sight,
    Through the mazes of the breast
    Softly steals by night!


The following poem is part of a fragmentary drama, which Goethe never completed.

    Curtain thy heavens, thou Jove, with clouds and mist,
    And, like a boy that mows down thistle-tops,
    Unloose thy spleen on oaks and mountain-peaks;
    Yet canst thou not deprive me of my earth,
    Nor of my hut, the which thou didst not build,
    Nor of my hearth, whose cheerful little flame
    Thou enviest me!

    I know of nought within the universe
    More slight, more pitiful than you, ye gods!
    Who nurse your majesty with scant supplies
    Of offerings wrung from fear, and mutter'd prayers,
    And needs must starve, were't not that babes and beggars
    Are hope-besotted fools!

    When I was yet a child, and knew not whence
    my being came, nor what before it lay,
    Up to the sun I bent my wilder'd eye,
    As though an ear were there
    To listen to my plaint,
    A heart, like mine,
    To pity the oppress'd.

    Who gave me succour
    Against the Titans' over-mastering force?
    Who rescued me from death – from slavery?
    Thou! – thou, my soul, burning with hallow'd fire,
    Hast not thyself alone accomplished all?
    Yet didst thou, in thy young simplicity,
    Glow with misguided thankfulness to him,
    That slumbers on unheeding there above!

    I reverence thee?
    Wherefore? Hast thou ever
    Lighten'd the sorrows of the heavy-laden?
    Hast ever stretched thy hand, to still the tears
    Of the perplexed in spirit?
    Was it not
    Almighty Time, and ever-during Fate –
    My lords and thine—that shaped and moulded me
    Into the MAN I am?

    Belike it was thy dream,
    That I should hate life – fly to wastes and wilds,
    Because the buds of visionary thought
    Did not all ripen into goodly flowers?

    Here do I sit, and frame
    Men after mine own image –
    A race that may be like unto myself,
    To suffer, weep; enjoy, and have delights,
    And take no heed of thee.
    As I do!


    Never dry, never dry,
    Tears that eternal love sheddeth!
    How dreary, how dead must the world still appear,
    When only half-dried on the eye is the tear!
    Never dry, never dry,
    Tears that unhappy love sheddeth!


    Once a boy beheld a bright
    Rose in dingle growing;
    Far, far off it pleased his sight;
    Near he viewed it with delight:
    Soft it seemed and glowing.
    Lo! the rose, the rose so bright,
    Rose so brightly blowing!

    Spake the boy, 'I'll pluck thee, grand
    Rose all wildly blowing."
    Thus the scheme thy wit hath planned
    Spake the rose, "I'll wound thy hand,
    Deftly overthrowing."
    O! the rose, the rose so grand,
    Rose so grandly glowing.

    But the stripling plucked the red
    Rose in glory growing,
    And the thorn his flesh hath bled,
    And the rose's pride is fled,
    And her beauty's going.

    Woe! the rose, the rose once red,
    Rose once redly glowing.


    Through country and through city
    I pipe my homely ditty,
    I weave my cunning rhyme.
    I stroll about at leisure,
    But always mind the measure;
    With me all goes by time.

    I scarce can wait their coming –
    The flowers of earliest blooming,
    That first peep out in Spring;
    I sing them, though they are not;
    If Winter comes, I care not;
    The fond old dream I sing

    I sing where no one listens,
    Where ice all round me glistens:
    These are the Winter's flowers!
    And when they melt, I wander
    To the planted hillside yonder,
    And still find pleasant hours.

    The young folks, met for pleasure,
    Move briskly to my measure
    Under the linden tree;
    The stupid rustic, grinning,
    The starch, prim maiden, spinning,
    Must own my melody.

    Wings to my feet ye give me;
    O'er hill and vale ye drive me;
    Your darling child must roam.
    Say why, ye kindest Muses,
    Your wiser will refuses
    To take the wanderer home?


    How gloriously gleameth
    All nature to me!
    How bright the sun beameth,
    How fresh is the lea!

    White blossoms are bursting
    The thickets among,
    And all the gay greenwood
    Is ringing with song!

    There's radiance and rapture
    That naught can destroy,
    Oh earth, in thy sunshine,
    Oh heart, in thy joy!

    Oh love! thou enchanter,
    So golden and bright –
    Like the red clouds of morning
    That rest on yon height;—

    It is thou that art clothing
    The fields and the bowers,
    And everywhere breathing
    The incense of flowers!

    Oh maiden! dear maiden!
    How well I love thee –
    Thine eye, how it kindles
    In answer to me!

    Oh, well the lark loveth
    Its song 'midst the blue;
    Oh, gladly the flowerets
    Expand to the dew.

    And so do I love thee;
    For all that is best,
    I draw from thy beauty
    To gladden my breast!

    And all my heart's music
    Is thrilling for thee!
    Be evermore blest, love,
    And loving to me!


    Silence reigns in deepest water,
    Motionless the sea is bound,
    And uneasy sees the sailor
    Level smoothness all around.
    Not a breath of air will muffle
    Through the stillness of a grave,
    Nor the sleeping ocean ruffle
    Gentlest stirring of a wave.


    Dispersed are the vapors,
    The sky is transparent
    And Aeolus loosens
    The strings in his hand.
    Untied is the zephyr,
    At work is the sailor.
    Be quick! Be attentive!
    The waves we are cutting,
    The distance is shortened
    And land I espy.


    My heart throbbed high: to horse, away then!
    Swift as a hero to the fight!
    Earth in the arms of evening lay then,
    And o'er the mountains hung the night,
    Now could I see like some huge giant
    The haze-enveloped oak-tree rise,
    While from the thicket stared defiant
    The darkness with its hundred eyes,

    The cloud-throned moon from his dominion
    Peered drowsily through veils of mist.
    The wind with gently-wafting pinion
    Gave forth a rustling strange and whist.
    With shapes of fear the night was thronging
    But all the more my courage glowed;
    My soul flamed up in passionate longing
    And hot my heart with rapture flowed.

    I saw thee; melting rays of pleasure
    Streamed o'er me from thy tender glance,
    My heart beat only to thy measure,
    I drew my breath as in a trance.
    The radiant hue of spring caressing
    Lay rosy on thy upturned face,
    And love – ye gods, how rich the blessing!
    I dared not hope to win such grace.

    To part – alas what grief in this is! –
    In every look thy heart spoke plain.
    What ecstasy was in thy kisses!
    What changing thrill of joy and pain!
    I went. One solace yet to capture,
    Thine eyes pursued in sweet distress.
    But to be loved, what holy rapture!
    To love, ah gods, what happiness!


    The gods give everything, the infinite ones,
    To their beloved, completely,
    Every pleasure, the infinite ones,
    Every suffering, the infinite ones, completely.


    When on thy pillow lying,
    Half listen, I implore,
    And at my lute's soft sighing,
    Sleep on! what wouldst thou more?

    For at my lute's soft sighing
    The stars their blessings pour
    On feelings never-dying;
    Sleep on! what wouldst thou more?

    Those feelings never-dying
    My spirit aid to soar
    From earthly conflicts trying;
    Sleep on! what wouldst thou more?

    From earthly conflicts trying
    Thou driv'st me to this shore;
    Through thee I'm hither flying,
    Sleep on! what wouldst thou more?

    Through thee I'm hither flying,
    Thou wilt not list before
    In slumbers thou art lying:
    Sleep on! what wouldst thou more?


    I think of thee, when the bright sunlight shimmers
    Across the sea;
    When the clear fountain in the moonbeam glimmers,
    I think of thee.

    I see thee, if far up the pathway yonder
    The dust be stirred;
    If faint steps o'er the little bridge to wander
    At night be heard.

    I hear thee, when the tossing waves' low rumbling
    Creeps up the hill;
    I go to the lone wood and listen, trembling,
    When all is still.

    I am with thee, wherever thou art roaming,
    And thou art near!
    The sun goes down, and soon the stars are coming.
    Would thou wert here!


    And nor will these tears be the last
    That scald the heart with no relieving,
    Until, unspeakably surpassed,
    They still themselves in deeper grieving.

    O let me always here and there
    Feel this eternal loving,
    And let this burning pain creep near
    Through nerve and artery moving.

    Could I but once be filled with thee
    Utterly, thou Eternal One!
    Ah, how the long, deep agony
    Lasts here, under the sun.


    Oh, what a glow
    Around me in morning's
    Blaze thou diffusest,
    Beautiful spring!
    With the rapture of love, but intenser,
    Intenser, and deeper, and sweeter,
    Nestles and creeps to my heart
    The sensation divine
    Of thy fervour eternal
    Oh, thou unspeakably fair!
    Oh, in this arm
    That I might enfold thee!

    Alas! on thy bosom
    I lay me, I pine,
    And thy flowers and thy greensward
    Are press'd to my heart.
    Thou coolest the fiery
    Thirst of my bosom,
    Dear breeze of the morn!
    Bear'st me the nightingale's
    Fond adjuration,
    Forth from the mists of the vale!
    I come, I am coming!
    Where art thou? oh where?

    Aloft! thou art there!
    See, where they sweep down,
    The clouds, how they bend down,
    Inclining to answer
    The yearning of love!
    Come to me! come!
    Up to your bosom
    Bear me on high!
    Embraced and embracing
    Up to thy bosom,
    All-loving Sire!


    So let me look until I grow
    And in this white dress still be dressed.
    Far from this lovely earth I go
    Up there to yonder house of feast.

    There I shall have a little sleeping
    And then, with new eyes no more blind,
    I'll put off this pure covering,
    This wreath and girdle leave behind.

    And yonder heavenly presences
    Ask not which boy, which girl may be:
    No wrapping there nor garment is
    Round the transfigured body.

    True, here I knew not toil nor worry,
    And yet I knew sufficient pain.
    From grief I became old too early.
    Make me forever young again!


    Through the forest idly,
    As my steps I bent,
    With a free and happy heart,
    Singing as I went.

    Cowering in the shade I
    Did a floweret spy,
    Bright as any star in heaven,
    Sweet as any eye.

    Down to pluck it stooping,
    Thus to me it said,
    "Wherefore pluck me, only
    To wither and to fade?"

    Up with its roots I dug it,
    I bore it as it grew,
    And in my garden-plot at home
    I planted it anew;

    All in a still and shady place,
    Beside my home so dear,
    And now it thanks me for my pains,
    And blossoms all the year.


    All things give token of thee!
    As soon as the bright sun is shining,
    Thou too wilt follow, I trust.

    When in the garden thou walk'st,
    Thou then art the rose of all roses,
    Lily of lilies as well.

    When thou dost move in the dance,
    Then each constellation moves also;
    With thee and round thee they move.

    Night! oh, what bliss were the night!
    For then thou o'ershadow'st the lustre,
    Dazzling and fair, of the moon.

    Dazzling and beauteous art thou,
    And flowers, and moon, and the planets
    Homage pay, Sun, but to thee.

    Sun! to me also be thou
    Creator of days bright and glorious;
    Life and Eternity this!


Excerpted from The Goethe Treasury by JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, Thomas Mann. Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introductory by Thomas Mann
Poems of Youth and Love
To the Moon
The Bliss of Sorrow
The Rose
The Son of the Muses
May Song
Calm of the Sea
Good Voyage
Greeting and Departure
The Gods Give Everything
Night Song
The Loved One Ever Near
Nor Will These Tears Be the Last
Forever Young
Treasure Trove
Wanderer's Night-Songs
Who Yearning Knows
The Limits of Man
Noble Be Man
The Erl-King
The Dance of Death
The God and the Bajadere
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Before the Judge
The Fisher
The Bride of Corinth
The Sorrows of Young Werther
from Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
A Production of Hamlet
from Wilhelm Meister's Travels
The New Melusina
from Elective Affinities
The Two Strange Children
Travel Sketches
from Travels in Italy
Philip Neri, The Humorous Saint
The Roman Carnival
Autobiographical Writing
from Poetry and Truth
Frankfurt under French Occupation
Literary Essays
Shakespeare ad Infinitum
Byron's Manfred
Byron's Don Juan
An Essay on Granite
To the Schönkopf Family in Leipzig
To Johann Gottfried Herder in Buckburg
To Johann Georg Christian Kestner
To Charlotte von Stein
To His Mother
To Johann Kaspar Lavater in Zurich
To Karl Ludwig von Knebel
To Duke Karl Augustus
To Charlotte von Stein
To Charlotte von Stein
To Christiane Vulpius
To Schiller in Jena
To Schiller
To Karl Friedrich Zelter in Berlin
To Lili von Türckheim in Strassburg
To Zelter
To Karl Ludwig von Knebel
To August von Goethe
To Marianne von Willemer in Baden-Baden
To Zelter
To Zelter
To Sulpiz Boisserée in Munich
To Wilhelm von Humboldt
Proverbs in Rhyme
Proverbs in Prose
Poems of Wisdom
Holy Yearning
One and All
Wanderer's Consolation
Stability in Change
The Reunion
It Is Good
The Unlimited
Premeval Orphic Sayings Destiny
From How Many Elements
Anacreon's Grave
Take My Life
In Living as in What You Know
From Father
To America

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