Front Page Titles (by Subject) SCENE II. - Goethe's Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc)
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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.
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What tidings, Leonora? Tell me all:
How stands it with our friends? Say, what befell?
More than I knew before I have not learn’d.
Contention rose between them; Tasso drew;
Thy brother parted them: yet it would seem
That it was Tasso who began the fray.
Antonio is at large, and with his prince
Converses freely. Tasso, in his chamber,
Abides meanwhile, a captive and alone.
Doubtless Antonio irritated him,
And met with cold disdain the high-ton’d youth.
I do believe it, when he join’d us first
A cloud already brooded o’er his brow.
Alas, that we so often disregard
The pure and silent warnings of the heart!
Softly a God doth whisper in our breast,
Softly, yet audibly, doth counsel us,
Both what we ought to seek and what to shun
This morn Antonio hath appear’d to me
E’en more abrupt than ever—more reserv’d.
When at his side I saw our youthful bard,
My spirit warn’d me. Only mark of each
The outward aspect—countenance and tone,
Look, gesture, bearing! Everything oppos’d;
Affection they can never interchange.
Yet Hope persuaded me, the flatterer:
They both are sensible, she fondly urg’d,
Both noble, gently nurtur’d, and thy friends.
What bond more sure than that which links the good?
I urg’d the youth; with what devoted zeal,
How ardently he gave himself to me!
Would I had spoken to Antonio then!
But I delay’d: so recent his return,
That I felt shy, at once and urgently,
To recommend the youth to his regard;
On custom I relied and courtesy,
And on the common usage of the world,
E’en between foes which smoothly intervenes.
I dreaded not from the experienc’d man
The rash impetuosity of youth.
The ill seem’d distant; now, alas, ’tis here!
Oh, give me counsel! What is to be done?
Thy words, my princess, show that thou dost feel
How hard it is to counsel. ’Tis not here
Between congenial minds a misconception;
A word, if needful an appeal to arms,
Peace in such case might happily restore.
Two men they are, who therefore are oppos’d,
I’ve felt it long, because by Nature cast
In moulds so opposite that she the twain
Could never weld into a single man.
And were they to consult their common weal,
A league of closest friendship they would form,
Then as one man their path they would pursue,
With power, and joy and happiness through life.
I hop’d it once, I now perceive in vain.
To-day’s contention, whatsoe’er the cause,
Might be appeas’d, but this assures us not,
Or for the morrow, or for future time.
Methinks ’twere best that Tasso for awhile
Should journey hence. To Rome he might repair.
To Florence also bend forthwith his course;
A few weeks later I should meet him there,
And as a friend could work upon his mind;
Thou couldest here meanwhile Antonio,
Who has become almost a stranger to us,
Once more within thy friendly circle bring;
And thus benignant time, that grants so much,
Might grant, perchance, what seems impossible.
A happiness will thus, my friend, be thine,
Which I must needs forego. Say, is that right?
Thou only would’st forego what thou thyself,
As things at present stand, could’st not enjoy.
So calmly shall I banish hence a friend?
Rather retain whom thou dost seem to banish.
The duke will ne’er consent to part with him.
When he shall see as we do, he will yield.
’Tis painful in one’s friend to doom oneself.
Yet with thy friend thou’lt also save thyself.
I cannot give my voice that this shall be.
An evil still more grievous then expect.
Thou giv’st me pain,—uncertain thy success.
Ere long we shall discover who doth err.
Well, if it needs must be so, say no more.
He conquers grief who firmly can resolve.
Resolv’d I am not; nathless let it be,
If he for long doth not absent himself.
And let us, Leonora, care for him,
That he may never be oppress’d by want,
But that the duke, e’en in a distant land,
May graciously assign him maintenance.
Speak with Antonio: with my brother he
Can much accomplish, and will not remember
The recent strife against our friend or us.
Princess, a word from thee would more avail.
I cannot, well thou knowest, Leonora,
Solicit favors for myself and friends,
As my dear sister of Urbino can.
A calm, secluded life I’m fain to lead,
And from my brother gratefully accept
Whate’er his princely bounty freely grants.
For this reluctance once I blam’d myself;
I’ve conquer’d now, and blame myself no more.
A friend full oft would censure me, and say,
Unselfish art thou, and unselfishness
Is good, but thou dost carry it so far,
That even the requirements of a friend
Thou canst not rightly feel. I let it pass,
And even this reproach must also bear.
It doth the more rejoice me that I now
Can be in truth of service to our friend;
My mother’s heritage descends to me,
And to his need I’ll gladly minister.
Princess, I too can show myself his friend.
In truth he is no thrifty manager;
My skilful aid shall help him where he fails.
Well, take him then,—if part with him I must,
To thee before all others be he given:
I now perceive, it will be better so.
This sorrow also must my spirit hail
As good and wholesome? Such my doom from youth;
I am inur’d to it. But half we feel
Renunciation of a precious joy,
When we have deem’d its tenure insecure.
Happy according to thy high desert
I hope to see thee.
Who then is happy?—So indeed I might
Esteem my brother, for his constant mind
Still with unswerving temper meets his fate;
Yet even he ne’er reap’d as he deserv’d.
My sister of Urbino, is she happy?
With beauty gifted and a noble heart!
Childless she’s doom’d to live; her younger lord
Values her highly and upbraids her not;
But happiness is stranger to their home.
Of what avail our mother’s prudent skill,
Her varied knowledge and her ample mind?
Her could they shield from foreign heresy?
They took us from her: now she is no more,
And dying, left us not the soothing thought,
That reconcil’d with God, her spirit pass’d.
Oh, mark not only that which fails to each;
Consider rather what to each remains!
And, princess, what doth not remain to thee?
What doth remain to me, Leonora? Patience!
Which I have learn’d to practise from my youth.
When friends and kindred, knit in social love,
In joyous pastime whil’d the hours away,
Sickness held me a captive in my chamber;
And in the sad companionship of pain
I early learn’d the lesson—to endure!
One pleasure cheer’d me in my solitude,
The joy of song. I commun’d with myself,
And lull’d with soothing tones the sense of pain,
The restless longing, the unquiet wish;—
Till sorrow oft would grow to ravishment,
And sadness’ self to harmony divine.
Not long, alas! this comfort was allow’d,
The leech’s stern monition silenc’d me;
I was condemn’d to live and to endure,
E’en of this sole remaining joy bereft.
Yet many friends attach’d themselves to thee,
And now thou art in health, art joyous too.
I am in health; that is, I am not sick;
And many friends I have, whose constancy
Doth cheer my heart; and ah, I had a friend—
Thou hast him still.
But soon must part with him.
That moment was of deep significance
When first I saw him. Scarce was I restor’d
From many sorrows; sickness and dull pain
Were scarce subdued; with shy and timid glance
I gaz’d once more on life, once more rejoic’d
In the glad sunshine, and my kindred’s love,
And hope’s delicious balm inhal’d anew;
Forwards I ventur’d into life to gaze,
And friendly forms saluted me from far:
Then was it, Leonora, that my sister
First introduc’d to me the vouthful bard,
She led him hither, and, shall I confess?—
My heart embrac’d him, and will hold for aye.
My princess! Let it not repent thee now!
To apprehend the noble is a gain
Of which the soul can never be bereft.
The fair, the excellent we needs must fear;
’Tis like a flame, which nobly serveth us
So long as on our household hearth it burns.
Or sheds its lustre from the friendly torch.
How lovely then! Who can dispense with it?
But if unwatch’d it spreads destruction round.
What anguish it occasions! Leave me now;
I babble, and ’twere better to conceal,
Even from thee, how weak I am and sick.
The sickness of the heart doth soonest yield
To tender plaints and soothing confidence.
If in confiding love a cure be found,
I’m whole, so strong my confidence in thee
Alas! my friend. I am indeed resolv’d:
Let him depart! But ah! I feel already
The long protracted anguish of the day
When I must all forego that glads me now
His beauteous form, transfigur’d in my dream,
The morning sun will dissipate no more;
No more the blissful hope of seeing him,
With jovous longing, fill my waking sense;
Nor to discover him, my timid glance
Search wistfully our garden’s dewy shade.
How sweetly was the tender hope fulfill’d
To spend each eve in intercourse with him!
How, while conversing, the desire increas’d,
To know each other ever more and more;
And still our souls, in sweet communion join’d,
Were daily tun’d to purer harmonies.
What twilight-gloom now falls around my path!
The gorgeous sun, the genial light of day,
Of this fair world the splendors manifold,
Shorn of their lustre, are envelop’d all
In the dark mist, which now environs me.
In bygone times, each day compris’d a life;
Hush’d was each care, mute each foreboding voice.
And happily embark’d, we drifted on
Without a rudder o’er life’s lucid wave.
Now, in the darkness of the present hour,
Futurity’s vague terrors seize my soul.
The future will restore to thee thy friend,
And bring to thee new happiness, new joy.
What I possess, that would I gladly hold;
Change may divert the mind, but profits not.
With youthful longing I have never join’d
The motley throng who strive from fortune’s urn
To snatch an object for their craving hearts.
I honor’d him, and could not choose but love him,
For that with him my life was life indeed,
Fill’d with a joy I never knew before.
At first I whisper’d to my heart, beware!
Shrinking I shunn’d, yet ever drew more near.
So gently lur’d, so cruelly chastis’d!
A pure substantial blessing glides away,
And for the joy that fill’d my yearning heart
Some demon substitutes a kindred pain.
If friendship’s soothing words console thee not,
This beauteous world’s calm power and healing time
Will imperceptibly restore thy heart.
Ay, beauteous is the world, and many a joy
Floats through its wide dominion here and there.
Alas! that ever, by a single step,
As we advance, it seemeth to retreat,
Our yearning souls along the path of life
Thus step by step alluring to the grave!
To mortal man so seldom is it given
To find what seem’d his heaven-appointed bliss;
Alas, so seldom he retains the good
Which, in auspicious hour, his hand had grasp’d;
The treasure to our heart that came unsought
Doth tear itself away, and we ourselves
Yield that which once with eagerness we seiz’d.
There is a bliss, but ah! we know it not;
We know it, but we know not how to prize.