Front Page Titles (by Subject) SCENE III. - Goethe's Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc)
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SCENE III. - 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.
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Princess, Leonora, Alphonso, Tassowith a volume bound in parchment.
Slowly I come to bring my work to thee,
And yet I linger ere presenting it.
Although apparently it seem complete,
Too well I know it is unfinish’d still.
But if I cherish’d once an anxious fear
Lest I should bring thee an imperfect work,
A new solicitude constrains me now:
I would not seem ungrateful, nor appear
Unduly anxious; and, as to his friends,
A man can say but simply, “Here I am!”
That they, with kind forbearance, may rejoice.
So I can only say, “Receive my work!”
[He presents the volume.
Thou hast surpris’d me, Tasso, with thy gift.
And made this lovely day a festival.
I hold it then at length within my hands,
And in a certain sense can call it mine.
Long have I wish’d that thou could’st thus resolve,
And say at length “’Tis finish’d! here it is.”
Are you contented? then it is complete:
For it belongs to you in every sense.
Were I to contemplate the pains bestow’d
Or dwell upon the written character.
I might, perchance, exclaim. “This work is mine.”
But when I mark what ’tis that to my song
Its inner worth and dignity imparts,
I humbly feel I owe it all to you.
If Nature from her liberal stores on me
The genial gift of poesy bestow’d,
Capricious Fortune, with malignant power,
Had thrust me from her; though this beauteous world
With all its varied splendor lur’d the boy,
Too early was his youthful eye bedimm’d
By his lov’d parents’ undeserv’d distress.
Forth from my lips when I essay’d to sing,
There ever flow’d a melancholy song,
And I accompanied, with plaintive tones,
My father’s sorrow and my mother’s grief.
’Twas thou alone, who from this narrow sphere
Rais’d me to glorious liberty, reliev’d
From each depressing care my youthful mind,
And gave me freedom, in whose genial air
My spirit could unfold in harmony;
Then whatsoe’er the merit of the work,
Thine be the praise, for it belongs to thee.
A second time thou dost deserve applause,
And honorest modestly thyself and us.
Fain would I say how sensibly I feel
That what I bring is all deriv’d from thee!
The inexperienc’d youth—could he produce
The poem from his own unfurnish’d mind?
Could he invent the conduct of the war,
The gallant bearing and the martial skill
Which every hero on the field display’d,
The leader’s prudence, and his followers’ zeal,
How vigilance the arts of cunning foil’d,—
Hadst thou not, valiant prince, infus’d it all,
As if my guardian genius thou hadst been,
Through a mere mortal, deigning to reveal
His nature high and inaccessible?
Enjoy the work in which we all rejoice!
Enjoy the approbation of the good!
Rejoice too in thy universal fame!
This single moment is enough for me.
Of you alone I thought while I compos’d:
You to delight was still my highest wish,
You to enrapture was my final aim.
Who doth not in his friends behold the world,
Deserves not that of him the world should hear.
Here is my fatherland, and here the sphere
In which my spirit fondly loves to dwell:
Here I attend and value every hint;
Here speak experience, knowledge and true taste;
Here stand the present and the future age.
With shy reserve the artist shuns the crowd,—
Its judgment but perplexes. Those alone
With minds like yours can understand and feel.
And such alone should censure and reward!
If thus the present and the future age
We represent, it is not meet that we
Receive the poet’s song unrecompens’d.
The laurel wreath, fit chaplet for the bard,
Which e’en the hero, who requires his verse
Sees without envy round his temples twin’d,
Adorns, thou seest, thy predecessor’s brow.
[Pointing to the bust of Virgil.
Hath chance, hath some kind genius twin’d the wreath,
And brought it hither? Not in vain it thus
Presents itself: Virgil I hear exclaim,
“Wherefore confer this honor on the dead?
They in their lifetime had reward and joy;
Do ye indeed revere the bards of old?
Then to the living bard accord his due.
My marble statue hath been amply crown’d,
And the green laurel branch belongs to life.”
[Alphonsomakes a sign to his sister; she takes the crown from the bust of Virgil, and approachesTasso:he steps back.
Thou dost refuse? Seest thou what hand the wreath,
The fair, the never-fading wreath, presents?
Oh, let me pause; I scarce can comprehend
How after such an hour I still can live.
Live in enjoyment of the high reward,
From which thy inexperience shrinks with fear.
(Raising the crown.) Thou dost afford me, Tasso, the rare joy
Of giving silent utt’rance to my thought.
The beauteous burden from thy honor’d hands.
On my weak head, thus kneeling, I receive.
[He kneels down; thePrincessplaces the crown upon his head.
(Applauding.) Long live the poet, for the first time crown’d!
How well the crown adorns the modest man!
It is an emblem only of that crown
Which shall adorn thee on the capitol.
There louder voices will salute thine ear;
Friendship with lower tones rewards thee here.
Take it—oh, take it quickly from my brow!
Pray thee remove it! It doth scorch my locks;
And like a sunbeam, that with fervid heat
Falls on my forehead, burneth in my brain
The power of thought; while fever’s fiery glow
Impels my blood. Forgive! it is too much.
This garland rather doth protect the head
Of him who treads the burning realm of fame.
And with its grateful shelter cools his brow.
I am not worthy to receive its shade,
Which only round the hero’s brow should wave.
Ye gods, exalt it high among the clouds.
To float in glory inaccessible.
That, through eternity, my life may be
An endless striving to attain this goal!
He who in youth acquires life’s noblest gifts,
Learns early to esteem their priceless worth;
He who in youth enjoys, resigneth not
Without reluctance what he once possess’d;
And he who would possess, must still be arm’d.
And who would arm himself, within his breast
A power must feel, that ne’er forsaketh him
Ah, it forsakes me now! In happiness
The inborn power subsides which tutor’d me
To meet injustice with becoming pride,
And steadfastly to face adversity.
Hath the delight, the rapture of this hour.
Dissolv’d the strength and marrow in my limbs?
My knees sink feebly! yet, a second time,
Thou seest me, princess, here before thee bow’d.
Grant my petition, and remove the crown.
That, as awaken’d from a blissful dream.
A new and fresh existence I may feel.
If thou with quiet modesty canst wear
The glorious talent from the gods receiv’d,
Learn also now the laurel wreath to wear,
The fairest gift that friendship can bestow,
The brow it once hath worthly adorn’d,
It shall encircle through eternity.
Oh, let me then asham’d from hence retire!
Let me in deepest shades my joy conceal,
As there my sorrow I was wont to shroud
There will I range alone: no eye will there
Remind me of a bliss so undeserv’d.
And if perchance I should behold a youth
In the clear mirror of a crystal spring.
Who, in the imag’d heaven, ’midst rocks and trees.
Absorb’d in thought appears, his brow adorn’d
With glory’s garland: there, methinks, I see
Elysium mirror’d in the magic flood.
I pause and calmly ask. Who may this be?
What youth of bygone times, so fairly crown’d?
Whence can I learn his name? his high desert?
I linger long, and musing fondly think:
Oh, might there come another, and yet more
To join with him in friendly intercourse!
Oh, could I see assembled round this spring
The bards, the heroes of the olden time!
Could I behold them still united here
As they in life were ever firmly bound!
As with mysterious power the magnet binds
Iron with iron, so do kindred aims
Unite the souls of heroes and of bards.
Himself forgetting, Homer spent his life
In contemplation of two mighty men;
And Alexander in the Elysian fields
Doth Homer and Achilles haste to seek.
Oh, would that I were present to behold
Those mighty spirits in communion met.
Awake! awake! let us not feel that thou
The present quite forgettest in the past.
It is the present that inspireth me;
Absent I seem alone, I am entranc’d!
When thou dost speak with spirits, I rejoice
The voice is human, and I gladly hear.
[A Page steps to thePrince.
He is arriv’d! and in a happy hour;
Antonio! Bring him hither;—here he comes!