Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 (Frankfurt) – 1832 (Weimar)
O YE Muses, who gladly favour a love that is heartfelt,
Who on his way the excellent youth have hitherto guided,
Who have press'd the maid to his bosom before their betrothal,
Help still further to perfect the bonds of a couple so loving,
Drive away the clouds which over their happiness hover!
But begin by saying what now in the house has been passing.
For the third time the mother impatiently enter'd the chamber
Where the men were sitting, which she had anxiously quitted,
Speaking of the approaching storm, and the loss of the moon's light,
Then of her son's long absence, and all the perils that night brings.
Strongly she censured their friends for having so soon left the youngster,
For not even addressing the maiden, or seeking to woo her.
'Make not the worst of the mischief,' the father peevishly answer'd;
'For you see we are waiting ourselves, expecting the issue.'
But the neighbour sat still, and calmly address'd them as follows:--
'In uneasy moments like these, I always feel grateful
To my late father, who when I was young all seeds of impatience
In my mind uprooted, and left no fragment remaining,
And I learnt how to wait, as well as the best of the wise men.
'Tell us what legerdemain he employ'd,' the pastor made answer.
'I will gladly inform you, and each one may gain by the lesson,'
Answer'd the neighbour. 'When I was a boy, I was standing one Sunday
In a state of impatience, eagerly waiting the carriage
Which was to carry us out to the fountain under the lime-trees;
But it came not; I ran like a weasel now hither, now thither,
Up and down the stairs, and from the door to the window;
Both my hands were prickling, I scratch'd away at the tables,
Stamping and trotting about, and scarcely refrain'd I from crying.
All this the calm man composedly saw; but finally when I
Carried my folly too far, by the arm he quietly took me,
Led me up to the window, and used this significant language
'See you up yonder the joiner's workshop, now closed for the Sunday?
'Twill be re-open'd to-morrow, and plane and saw will be working.
Thus will the busy hours be pass'd from morning till evening.
But remember this: the rimming will soon be arriving,
When the master, together with all his men, will be busy
In preparing and finishing quickly and deftly your coffin,
And they will carefully bring over here that house made of boards, which
Will at length receive the patient as well as impatient,
And which is destined to carry a roof that's unpleasantly heavy.
All that he mention'd I forthwith saw taking place in my mind's eye,
Saw the boards join'd together, and saw the black cover made ready,
Patiently then I sat, and meekly awaited the carriage.
And I always think of the coffin whenever I see men
Running about in a state of doubtful and wild expectation.'
Smilingly answered the pastor:--'Death's stirring image is neither
Unto the wise a cause of alarm,--or an end to the pious.
Back into life it urges the former, and teaches him action,
And, for the weal of the latter, it strengthens his hope in affliction.
Death is a giver of life unto both. Your father did wrongly
When to the sensitive boy he pointed out death in its own form.
Unto the youth should be shown the worth of a noble and ripen'd
Age, and unto the old man, youth, that both may rejoice in
The eternal circle, and life may in life be made perfect!'
Here the door was open'd. The handsome couple appear'd there,
And the friends were amazed, the loving parents astonish'd
At the form of the bride, the form of the bridegroom resembling.
Yes! the door appear'd too small to admit the tall figures
Which now cross'd the threshold, in company walking together.
To his parents Hermann presented her, hastily saying:--
'Here is a maiden just of the sort you are wishing to have here,
Welcome her kindly, dear father! she fully deserves it, and you too,
Mother dear, ask her questions as to her housekeeping knowledge,
That you may see how well she deserves to form one of our party.'
Then he hastily took on one side the excellent pastor,
Saying:--' Kind sir, I entreat you to help me out of this trouble
Quickly, and loosen the knot, whose unravelling I am so dreading;
For I have not ventured to woo as my bride the fair maiden,
But she believes she's to be a maid in the house, and I fear me
She will in anger depart, as soon as we talk about marriage.
But it must be decided at once! no longer in error
Shall she remain, and I no longer this doubt can put up with.
Hasten and once more exhibit that wisdom we all hold in honour.'
So the pastor forthwith turn'd round to the rest of t
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"Hermann And Dorothea - IX. Urania" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/21691/hermann-and-dorothea---ix.--urania>.