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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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Gladly I welcome thee, it seems indeed
As though I saw thee for the first time now!
Ne’er was arrival more auspicious. Welcome!
I know thee now, and all thy varied worth.
Promptly I offer thee my heart and hand.
And trust that thou wilt not despise my love.
Freely thou offerest a precious gift;
Its worth I duly estimate, and hence
Would pause awhile before accepting it.
I know not yet if I can render thee
A full equivalent. Not willingly
Would I o’erhasty or unthankful seem;
Let then my sober caution serve for both.
What man would censure caution? Every step
Of life doth prove that ’tis most requisite;
Yet nobler is it, when the soul reveals,
Where we, with prudent foresight, may dispense.
The heart of each be here his oracle,
Since each his error must himself atone.
So let it be! My duty I’ve perform’d.
It is the princess’ wish we should be friends,
Her words I honor’d and thy friendship sought.
I wish’d not to hold back, Antonio,
But I will never be importunate.
Time and more near acquaintance may induce thee
To give a warmer welcome to the gift,
Which now thou dost reject, almost with scorn.
Oft is the moderate man nam’d cold by those
Who think themselves more warm than other men,
Because a transient glow comes over them.
Thou blamest what I blame,—what I avoid.
Young as I am I ever must prefer
Unshaken constancy to vehemence.
Most wisely said! Keep ever in this mind.
Thou’rt authoriz’d to counsel and to warn,
For, like a faithful, time-approved friend,
Experience holds her station at thy side.
But trust me, sir, the meditative heart
Attends the warning of each day and hour,
And practises in secret every virtue,
Which in thy rigor thou would’st teach anew.
’Twere well to be thus occupied with self,
If it were only profitable too.
His inmost nature no man learns to know
By introspection; still he rates himself,
Sometimes too low, but oft, alas! too high.
Self-knowledge comes from knowing other men;
’Tis life reveals to each his genuine worth.
I listen with applause and reverence.
Yet to my words I know thou dost attach
A meaning wholly foreign to my thought.
Proceeding thus, we ne’er shall draw more near.
It is not prudent, ’tis not well, to meet
With purpos’d misconception any man,
Let him be who he may! The princess’ word
I scarcely needed;—I have read thy soul:
Good thou dost purpose and accomplish too.
Thine own immediate fate concerns thee not;
Thou think’st of others, others thou dost aid,
And on life’s sea, vex’d by each passing gale,
Thou hold’st a heart unmov’d. I view thee thus;
What then were I, did I not draw tow’rds thee?
Did I not even keenly seek a share
Of the lock’d treasure which thy bosom guards?
Open thine heart to me, thou’lt not repent;
Know me, and I sure am thou’lt be my friend:
Of such a friend I long have felt the need.
My inexperience, my ungovern’d youth
Cause me no shame; for still around my brow
The future’s golden clouds in brightness rest.
Oh! to thy bosom take me, noble man;
Into the wise, the temperate use of life
Initiate my rash, my unfledg’d youth.
Thou in a single moment would’st demand
What time and circumspection only yield.
In one brief moment love has power to give
What anxious toil wins not in lengthen’d years.
I do not ask it from thee, I demand.
I summon thee in Virtue’s sacred name,
For she is zealous to unite the good;
And shall I name to thee another name?
The princess, she doth wish it.—Leonora.
Me she would lead to thee, and thee to me.
Oh, let us meet her wish with kindred hearts!
United let us to the goddess haste,
To offer her our service, our whole souls,
Leagu’d to achieve for her the noblest aims.
Yet once again!—Here is my hand! Give thine!
I do entreat, hold thyself back no longer,
O noble man, and grudge me not the joy.
The good man’s fairest joy, without reserve,
Freely to yield himself to nobler men!
Thou goest with full sail! It would appear
Thou’rt wont to conquer, everywhere to find
The pathways spacious and the portals wide.
I grudge thee not or merit or success,—
Only I see indeed, too plainly see,
We from each other stand too far apart.
It may be so in years and timetried worth;—
In courage and good-will I yield to none.
Good-will doth oft prove deedless; courage still
Pictures the goal less distant than it is.
His brow alone is crown’d who reaches it,
And oft a worthier must forego the crown.
Yet wreaths there are of very different fashion:
Light, worthless wreaths, which, idly strolling on,
The loiterer oft without the toil obtains.
What a divinity to one accords,
And from another sternly doth withhold,
Is not obtain’d by each man as he lists.
To Fortune before other gods ascribe it;
I’ll hear thee gladly, for her choice is blind.
Impartial Justice also wears a band,
And to each bright illusion shuts her eyes.
Fortune ’tis for the fortunate to praise!
Let him ascribe to her a hundred eyes
To scan desert,—stern judgment, and wise choice.
Call her Minerva, call her what he will,
He holds as just reward her golden gifts,
Chance ornament as symbol of desert.
Thou need’st not speak more plainly. ’Tis enough!
Deeply I see into thine inmost heart,
And know thee now for life. Oh, would that so
My princess knew thee also! Lavish not
The arrows of thine eyes and of thy tongue!
In vain thou aimest at the fadeless wreath
Entwin’d around my brow. First be so great
As not to envy me the laurel wreath!
And then perchance thou may’st dispute the prize.
I deem it sacred, yea, the highest good;
Yet only show me him, who hath attain’d
That after which I strive; show me the nero,
Of whom on history’s ample page I read;
The poet place before me, who himself
With Homer or with Virgil may compare;
Ay, what is more, let me behold the man
Who hath deserv’d threefold this recompense,
And yet can wear the laurel round his brow
With modesty thrice greater than my own.—
Then at the feet of the divinity
Who thus endow’d me, thou should’st see me kneel,
Nor would I stand erect, till from my brow,
She had to his the ornament transferi’d.
Till then thou’rt doubtless worthy of the crown.
Let me be justly weigh’d: I shun it not:
But your contempt I never have deserv’d.
The wreath consider’d by my prince my due.
Which for my brow my princess’ hand entwin’d,
None shall dispute with me, and none asperse!
This haughty tone, methinks, becomes thee not,
Nor this rash glow, unseemly in this place.
The tone thou takest here becomes me too.
Say, from these precincts is the truth exil’d?
Within the palace is free thought imprison’d?
Here must the noble spirit be oppress’d?
This is nobility’s appropriate seat,
The soul’s nobility! and may she not
In presence of earth’s mighty ones rejoice?
She may and shall. Nobles draw near the prince
In virtue of the rank their sires bequeath’d;
Why should not genius then, which partial Nature
Grants, like a glorious ancestry, to few?
Here littleness alone should feel confus’d,
And envy shun to manifest its shame:
As no insidious spider should attach
Its noisome fabric to these marble walls.
Thyself dost show that my contempt is just!
The impetuous youth, forsooth, would seize by force
The confidence and friendship of the man!
Rude as thou art, dost think thyself of worth?
I’d rather be what thou esteemest rude,
Than what I must myself esteem ignoble.
Thou’rt still so young that wholesome chastisement
May tutor thee to hold a better course.
Not young enough to bow to idols down,
Yet old enough to conquer scorn with scorn.
From contests of the lip and of the lyre,
A conquering hero, thou may’st issue forth.
It were presumptuous to extol my arm;
As yet ’tis deedless; still I’ll trust to it.
Thou trustest to forbearance, which too long
Hath spoil’d thee in thine insolent career.
That I am grown to manhood, now I feel:
It would have been the farthest from my wish
To try with thee the doubtful game of arms:
But thou dost stir the inward fire; my blood,
My inmost marrow boils; the fierce desire
Of vengeance seethes and foams within my breast.
Art thou the man thou boast’st thyself,—then stand.
Thou know’st as little who, as where thou art,
No fane so sacred as to shield contempt.
Thou dost blaspheme, thou dost profane this spot,
Not I, who fairest offerings,—confidence,
Respect and love, for thine acceptance brought.
Thy spirit desecrates this paradise;
And thy injurious words this sacred hall;
Not the indignant heaving of my breast,
Which boils to wipe away the slightest stain.
What a high spirit in a narrow breast!
Here there is space to vent the bosom’s rage.
The rabble also vent their rage in words.
Art thou of noble blood as I am, draw!
I am, but I remember where I stand.
Come then below, where weapons may avail.
Thou should’st not challenge, therefore I’ll not follow.
To cowards welcome such impediments.
The coward only threats where he’s secure.
With joy would I relinquish this defence.
Degrade thyself: degrade the place thou canst not.
The place forgive me that I suffer’d it!
[He draws his sword.
Or draw or follow, if, as now I hate,
I’m not to scorn thee to eternity!