Front Page Titles (by Subject) SCENE II. - Goethe's Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc)
Return to Title Page for Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
SCENE II. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 3.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The king hath sent me hither, bade me greet
With hail and fair salute, Diana’s priestess.
For new and wondrous conquest, this the day,
When to her goddess Tauris renders thanks.
I hasten on before the king and host,
Himself to herald, and its near approach.
We are prepar’d to give them worthy greeting;
Our goddess doth behold with gracious eye
The welcome sacrifice from Thoas’ hand.
Would that I also found the priestess’ eye,
Much honor’d, much rever’d one, found thine eye,
O consecrated maid, more calm, more bright,
To all a happy omen! Still doth grief,
With gloom mysterious, shroud thy inner mind;
Vainly, through many a tedious year we wait
For one confiding utterance from thy breast.
Long as I’ve known thee in this holy place,
That look of thine hath ever made me shudder;
And, as with iron bands, thy soul remains
Lock’d in the deep recesses of thy breast.
As doth become the exile and the orphan.
Dost thou then here seem exil’d and an orphan?
Can foreign scenes our fatherland replace?
Thy fatherland is foreign now to thee.
Hence is it that my bleeding heart ne’er heals.
In early youth, when first my soul, in love,
Held father, mother, brethren fondly twin’d,
A group of tender germs, in union sweet,
We sprang in beauty from the parent stem,
And heavenward grew; alas, a foreign curse
Then seized and sever’d me from those I lov’d,
And wrench’d with iron grasp the beauteous bands.
It vanish’d then, the fairest charm of youth,
The simple gladness of life’s early dawn;
Though sav’d, I was a shadow of myself,
And life’s fresh joyance blooms in me no more.
If thou wilt ever call thyself unbless’d,
I must accuse thee of ingratitude.
Thanks have you ever.
Not the honest thanks
Which prompt the heart to offices of love;
The joyous glance, revealing to the host
A grateful spirit, with its lot content.
When thee a deep mysterious destiny
Brought to this sacred fane, long years ago,
To greet thee, as a treasure sent from heaven,
With reverence and affection, Thoas came.
Benign and friendly was this shore to thee,
To every stranger else with horror fraught,
For, till thy coming, none e’er trod our realm
But fell, according to an ancient rite,
A bloody victim at Diana’s shrine.
Freely to breathe alone is not to live.
Say, is it life, within this holy fane,
Like a poor ghost around its sepulchre,
To linger out my days? Or call you that
A life of conscious happiness and joy,
When every hour, dream’d listlessly away,
Still leadeth onward to those gloomy days,
Which the sad troop of the departed spend
In self-forgetfulness on Lethe’s shore?
A useless life is but an early death;
This woman’s destiny hath still been mine.
I can forgive, though I must needs deplore,
The noble pride which underrates itself;
It robs thee of the happiness of life.
But hast thou, since thy coming here, done naught?
Who hath the monarch’s gloomy temper cheer’d?
Who hath with gentle eloquence annull’d,
From year to year, the usage of our sires,
By which, a victim at Diana’s shrine,
Each stranger perish’d, thus from certain death
Sending so oft the rescued captive home?
Hath not Diana, harboring no revenge
For this suspension of her bloody rites,
In richest measure heard thy gentle prayer?
On joyous pinions o’er the advancing host,
Doth not triumphant conquest proudly soar?
And feels not every one a happier lot,
Since Thoas, who so long hath guided us
With wisdom and with valor, sway’d by thee,
The joy of mild benignity approves,
Which leads him to relax the rigid claims
Of mute submission? Call thyself useless! Thou,
When from thy being o’er a thousand hearts
A healing balsam flows? when to a race,
To whom a god consign’d thee, thou dost prove
A fountain of perpetual happiness,
And from this dire inhospitable coast,
Dost to the stranger grant a safe return?
The little done doth vanish to the mind,
Which forward sees how much remains to do.
Him dost thou praise, who underrates his deeds?
Who weigheth his own deeds is justly blam’d.
He too, real worth too proudly who condemns,
As who, too vainly, spurious worth o’errateth.
Trust me, and heed the counsel of a man
With honest zeal devoted to thy service:
When Thoas comes to-day to speak with thee,
Lend to his purposed words a gracious ear.
Thy well-intention’d counsel troubles me:
His offer I have ever sought to shun.
Thy duty and thy interest calmly weigh.
Si’thence King Thoas lost his son and heir,
Among his followers he trusts but few,
And trusts those few no more as formerly.
With jealous eye he views each noble’s son
As the successor of his realm, he dreads
A solitary, helpless age—perchance
Sudden rebellion and untimely death.
A Scythian studies not the rules of speech,
And least of all the king. He who is used
To act and to command, knows not the art,
From far, with subtle tact, to guide discourse
Through many windings to its destin’d goal.
Thwart not his purpose by a cold refusal.
By an intended misconception. Meet,
With gracious mien, half-way the royal wish.
Shall I then speed the doom that threatens me?
His gracious offer canst thou call a threat?
’Tis the most terrible of all to me.
For his affection grant him confidence.
If he will first redeem my soul from fear.
Why dost thou hide from him thy origin?
A priestess secrecy doth well become.
Naught to a monarch should a secret be;
And, though he doth not seek to fathom thine,
His noble nature feels, ay, deeply feels,
That thou with care dost hide thyself from him.
Ill-will and anger harbors he against me?
Almost it seems so. True, he speaks not of thee,
But casual words have taught me that the wish
Thee to possess hath firmly seiz’d his soul;
Oh, leave him not a prey unto himself,
Lest his displeasure, rip’ning in his breast,
Should work thee woe, so with repentance thou
Too late my faithful counsel shalt recall.
How! doth the monarch purpose what no man
Of noble mind, who loves his honest name,
Whose bosom reverence for the gods restrains,
Would ever think of? Will he force employ
To drag me from the altar to his bed?
Then will I call the gods, and chiefly thee,
Diana, goddess resolute, to aid me;
Thyself a virgin, wilt a virgin shield,
And to thy priestess gladly render aid.
Be tranquil! Passion and youth’s fiery blood
Impel not Thoas rashly to commit
A deed so lawless. In his present mood,
I fear from him another harsh resolve,
Which (for his soul is steadfast and unmov’d)
He then will execute without delay.
Therefore I pray thee, canst thou grant no more.
At least be grateful—give thy confidence.
Oh, tell me what is further known to thee.
Learn it from him. I see the king approach;
Him thou dost honor, thine own heart enjoins
To meet him kindly and with confidence.
A man of noble mind may oft be led
By woman’s gentle word.
(Alone.) How to observe
His faithful counsel see I not in sooth.
But willingly the duty I perform
Of giving thanks for benefits receiv’d,
And much I wish that to the king my lips
With truth could utter what would please his ear.