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A poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Title: Roman Elegies
Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [More Titles by Goethe]
[The Roman Elegies were written in the same year as the Venetian Epigrams--viz. 1790.]
Utter a word, oh ye streets! Wilt thou not, Genius, awake?
Teemeth with life; but to me, all is still silent and dead.
That one beauteous form, which, while it scorcheth, revives?
To her and from her shall go, heeding not time as it flies?
As a wise traveller should, would he his journey improve.
Amor's temple alone, where the Initiate may go.
Then would the world be no world, then would e'en Rome be no Rome.
Trust me, I deem thee not bold! reverence only I feel.
Yet with insidious effect, poison the bosom for years.
Pierce to the innermost bone, kindle the blood into flame.
Longing attended on sight; then with fruition was bless'd.
When she, in Ida's retreats, own'd to Anchises her flame?
Oh, by Aurora, ere long, he had in envy been rous'd!
Hotly and nimbly, ere long, plunged in the night-cover'd flood.
Seeking there water to draw, when by the god she was seiz'd.
Suckle and nurture,--and Rome call'd herself queen of the world,
On me would gladly bestow half of the glory they earn'd,
But they, by Orcus's night, sternly, alas! are held down.
Ere the dark Lethe's sad wave wetteth thy fugitive foot.
On your altar so pure, adding sweet rosebuds as well,
When a Pantheon it seems round him for ever to bring.
Phoebus strides on before, shaking his curly-lock'd head
Turneth his glances aside, roguish and tender at once.
Looks both longing and sweet, e'en in the marble yet moist.
"Should not our glorious son take up his place by our side?"
To me the hypocrite came: "Trust me, I pray thee, this once.
That thou thy life and thy works hast to my worship ordain'd.
Hoping to give thee mine aid, e'en in the foreigner's land.
Happily lodged, though, is he, who is by Amor receiv'd.
Thoughtfully wandering on, over each time-hallow'd spot.
By the few artists--whom I loved in their studios to seek.
Presently thou shalt confess, that what I tell thee is true.
Where are the colours, the light, which thy creations once fill'd?
Still remains open, my friend; years have not barr'd up its doors.
Love not the subtle and old; Mother, observe what I say!
Happily live,--and, in thee, ages long vanish'd will live!
And a more excellent style, love, and love only can teach."
And when a master commands, I have been train'd to obey.
But, while he does so, alas! robs me of time, strength, and mind.
Syllables teeming with thought, by a fond pair are exchang'd.
Free from all prosody's rules, dies such a hymn on the ear.
Hath, then, Amor the rogue cheated, Aurora, e'en thee?
Unto a day of delight, while at his altar I kneel.
Pressing with softness the arm, which round her neck is entwin'd;
Monument sweet of the bliss which had first rock'd us to sleep
Far on the breadth of the couch, leaving her hand still in mine
And our cravings alone claim for themselves the exchange.
Once more open. Ah, no! let me still look on that form!
Far too soon of the bliss pure contemplation affords.
Theseus, could'st thou e'er fly, whilst Ariadne thus slept?
Gaze on her eyes! she awakes--Firmly she holds thee embrac'd
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