Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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  • TO THE DISTANT ONE                    

And  have I lost thee evermore,

Hast thou, oh, fair one, from me flown?

Still in mine ear sounds, as of yore,

Thine every word, thine every tone.

As when at morn the wanderer's eye

Attempts to pierce the air in vain,

When, hidden in the azure sky,

The lark high o'er him chants his strain:

So do I cast my troubled gaze

Through bush, through forest, o'er the lea;

Thou art invoked by all my lays;

Oh, come then, loved one, back to me!


HE warder he gazes o' the night

On the graveyards under him lying,

The moon into clearness throws all by her light,

The night with the daylight is vying.

There's a stir in the graves, and forth from their tombs

The form of a man, then a woman next looms

In garments long trailing and snowy.

They stretch themselves out, and with eager delight

Join the bones for the revel and dancing --

Young and old, rich and poor, the lady and the knight,

Their trains are a hindrance to dancing.

And since here by shame they no longer are bound,

They shuffle them off, and lo, strewn lie around

Their garments on each little hillock.

Here rises a shank, and a leg wobbles there

With lewd diabolical gesture;

And clatter and rattle of bones you might hear,

As of one beating sticks to a measure.

This seems to the warder a laughable game:

Then the tempter, low whispering, up to him came:

"In one of their shrouds go and wrap thee."

'Twas done soon as said; then he gained in wild flight

Concealment behind the church portal,

The moon all the while throws her bright beams of light

On the dance where they revel and sport all.

First one, then another, dispersed all are they,

And donning their shrouds steal the spectres away,

And under the graves all is quiet.

But one of them stumbles and fumbles along,

'Midst the tombstones groping intently;

But none of his comrades have done him this wrong,

His shroud in the breeze 'gins to scent he.

He rattles the door of the tower, but can find

No entrance -- good luck to the warder behind! --

'Tis barred with blest crosses of metal.


His shroud must he have, or rest can he ne'er;

And so, without further preambles,

The old Gothic carving he grips then and there,

From turret to pinnacle scrambles.

Alas for the warder! all's over, I fear;

From buttress to buttress in dev'lish career

He climbs like a long-legged spider.

The warder he trembles, and pale doth he look,

That shroud he would gladly be giving,

When piercing transfixed it a sharp-pointed hook!

He thought his last hour he was living.

Clouds cover already the vanishing moon,

With thunderous clang beats the clock a loud One --

Below lies the skeleton, shattered.

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