Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 (Frankfurt) – 1832 (Weimar)
THEN when into the room the well-built son made his entry,
Straightway with piercing glances the minister eyed him intently,
And with carefulness watch'd his looks and the whole of his bearing,
With an inquiring eye which easily faces decyphers;
Then he smiled, and with cordial words address'd him as follows
'How you are changed in appearance, my friend! I never have seen you
Half so lively before; your looks are thoroughly cheerful.
You have return'd quite joyous and merry. You've doubtless divided
All of the presents amongst the poor, their blessings receiving.'
Then in calm accents replied the son, with gravity speaking
'Whether I've laudably acted, I know not; I follow'd the impulse
Of my own heart, as now I'll proceed to describe with exactness.
Mother, you rummaged so long, in looking over old pieces,
And in making your choice, that 'twas late when the bundle was ready,
And the wine and the beer were slowly and carefully pack'd up.
When I at length emerged at the gate, and came on the highway,
Streams of citizens met I returning, with women and children,
For the train of the exiles had long disappear'd in the distance.
So I quicken'd my pace, and hastily drove to the village
Where I had heard that to-night to rest and to sleep they intended.
Well, as I went on my way, the newly-made causeway ascending,
Suddenly saw I a waggon, of excellent timber constructed,
Drawn by a couple of oxen, the best and the strongest of foreign.
Close beside it there walk'd, with sturdy footsteps, a maiden,
Guiding the two strong beasts with a long kind of staff, which with skill she
Knew how to use, now driving, and now restraining their progress.
When the maiden observed me, she quietly came near the horses,
And address'd me as follows:--'Our usual condition, believe me,
Is not so sad as perchance you might judge from our present appearance.
I am not yet accustom'd to ask for alms from a stranger,
Who so often but gives, to rid himself of a beggar.
But I'm compell'd to speak by necessity. Here on the straw now
Lies the lately-confined poor wife of a wealthy landowner,
Whom with much trouble I managed to save with oxen and waggon.
We were late in arriving, and scarcely with life she escaped.
Now the newly-born child in her arms is lying, all naked,
And our friends will be able to give them but little assistance,
E'en if in the next village, to which to-night we are going,
We should still find them, although I fear they have left it already.
If you belong to the neighbourhood, any available linen
These poor people will deem a most acceptable present.
'Thus she spake, and wearily raised herself the pale patient
Up from the straw and gazed upon me, while thus I made answer
'Oft doth a heavenly spirit whisper to kind-hearted people,
So that they feel the distress o'er their poorer brethren impending;
For my mother, your troubles foreboding, gave me a bundle
Ready prepared for relieving the wants of those who were naked.'
Then I loosen'd the knots of the cord, and the dressing-gown gave her
Which belong'd to my father, and gave her some shirts and some linen,
And she thank'd me with joy and said:--'The fortunate know not
How 'tis that miracles happen; we only discover in sorrow
God's protecting finger and hand, extended to beckon
Good men to good. May your kindness to us by Him be requited.'
And I saw the poor patient joyfully handling the linen,
Valuing most of all the soft flannel, the dressing-gown lining.
Then the maid thus address'd her:--'Now let us haste to the village
Where our friends are resting, to-night intending to sleep there
There I will straightway attend to what e'er for the infant is needed.'
Then she saluted me too, her thanks most heartily giving,
Drove the oxen, the waggon went on. I lingerd behind them,
Holding my horses rein'd back, divided between two opinions,
Whether to hasten ahead, reach the village, the viands distribute
'Mongst the rest of the people, or give them forthwith to the maiden,
So that she might herself divide them amongst them with prudence
Soon I made up my mind, and follow'd after her softly,
Overtook her without delay, and said to her quickly
'Maiden, it was not linen alone that my mother provided
And in the carriage placed, as clothing to give to the naked,
But she added meat, and many an excellent drink too;
And I have got quite a stock stow'd away in the boot of the carriage.
Well, I have taken a fancy the rest of the gifts to deposit
In your hands, and thus fulfil to the best my commission;
You will divide them with prudence, whilst I my fate am obeying.'
Then the maiden replied:--'With fa
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"Hermann And Dorothea - II. Terpsichore" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/21688/hermann-and-dorothea---ii.--terpsichore>.