Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 (Frankfurt) – 1832 (Weimar)
FATE AND SYMPATHY.
'NE'ER have I seen the market and streets so thoroughly empty!
Still as the grave is the town, clear'd out! I verily fancy
Fifty at most of all our inhabitants still may be found there.
People are so inquisitive! All are running and racing
Merely to see the sad train of poor fellows driven to exile.
Down to the causeway now building, the distance nearly a league is,
And they thitherward rush, in the heat and the dust of the noonday.
As for me, I had rather not stir from my place just to stare at
Worthy and sorrowful fugitives, who, with what goods they can carry,
Leaving their own fair land on the further side of the Rhine-stream,
Over to us are crossing, and wander through the delightful
Nooks of this fruitful vale, with all its twistings and windings.
Wife, you did right well to bid our son go and meet them,
Taking with him old linen, and something to eat and to drink too,
Just to give to the poor; the rich are bound to befriend them.
How he is driving along! How well he holds in the horses!
Then the new little carriage looks very handsome; inside it
Four can easily sit, besides the one on the coachbox.
This time he is alone; how easily-turns it the corner!'
Thus to his wife the host of the Golden Lion discoursed,
Sitting at ease in the porch of his house adjoining the market.
Then replied as follows the shrewd and sensible hostess
'Father, I don't like giving old linen away, for I find it
Useful in so many ways, 'tis not to he purchased for money
Just when it's wanted. And yet to-day I gladly have given
Many excellent articles, shirts and covers and suchlike;
For I have heard of old people and children walking half-naked.
Will you forgive me, too, for having ransacked your presses?
That grand dressing-gown, cover'd with Indian flowers all over,
Made of the finest calico, lined with excellent flannel,
I have despatch'd with the rest; 'tis thin, old, quite out of fashion.'
But the worthy landlord only smiled, and then answer'd
I shall dreadfully miss that ancient calico garment,
Genuine Indian stuff! They're not to be had any longer.
Well! I shall wear it no more. And your poor husband henceforward
Always must wear a surtout, I suppose, or commonplace jacket,
Always must put on his boots; good bye to cap and to slippers!'
'See,' continued his wife, 'a few are already returning
Who have seen the procession, which long ago must have pass'd by.
See how dusty their shoes are, and how their faces are glowing
Each one carries a handkerchief, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
I, for one, wouldn't hurry and worry myself in such weather
Merely to see such a sight! I'm certain to hear all about it.'
And the worthy father, speaking with emphasis, added
'Such fine weather seldom lasts through the whole of the harvest
And we're bringing the fruit home, just as the hay we brought lately,
Perfectly dry; the sky is clear, no cloud's in the heavens,
And the whole day long delicious breezes are blowing.
Splendid weather I call it! The corn already too ripe is,
And to-morrow begin we to gather the plentiful harvest.'
Whilst he was thus discoursing, the number of men and of women
Crossing the market and going towards home kept ever increasing;
And there return'd amongst others, bringing with him his daughters,
On the other side of the market, their prosperous neighbour,
Going full speed to his newbuilt house, the principal merchant,
Riding inside an open carriage (in Landau constructed).
All the streets were alive; for the town, though small, was well peopled,
Many a factory throve there, and many a business also.
Long sat the excellent couple under the doorway, exchanging
Many a passing remark on the people who happen'd to pass them.
Presently thus to her husband exclaim'd the good-natured hostess
'See! Yon comes the minister; with him is walking the druggist:
They'll be able to give an account of all that has happen'd,
What they witness'd, and many a sight I fear which was painful.'
Both of them came in a friendly manner, and greeted the couple,
Taking their seats on the wooden benches under the doorway,
Shaking the dust from their feet, their handkerchiefs using to fan them.
Presently, after exchanging reciprocal greetings, the druggist
Open'd his mouth, and almost peevishly vented his feelings
'What strange creatures men are! They all resemble each other,
All take pleasure in staring, when troubles fall on their neighbours.
Ev'ry one runs to see the flames destroying a dwelling,
Or a poor criminal led in terror and shame to the scaffold.
All the town has been out to gaze at the sorrowing exiles,
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"Hermann And Dorothea - I. Kalliope" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 24 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/21687/hermann-and-dorothea---i.--kalliope>.