Front Page Titles (by Subject) SCENE IV. - 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 IV. - 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.
War and not peace thou bringest: it would seem
As cam’st thou from a battle, from a camp,
Where violence bears sway, and force decides,
And not from Rome, where solemn policy
Uplifts the hand to bless a prostrate world,
Which she beholds obedient at her feet.
I must admit the censure, my fair friend,
But my apology lies close at hand;
’Tis dangerous to be compell’d so long
To wear the show of prudence and restraint.
Still at our side an evil genius lurks,
And with stern voice demands from time to time
A sacrifice, which I, alas, to-day
Have offer’d, to the peril of my friends.
Thou hast so long with strangers been concern’d,
And to their humors hast conform’d thine own,
That once more with thy friends thou dost their aims
Mistake, and as with strangers dost contend.
Herein, beloved friend, the danger lies!
With strangers we are ever on our guard,
Still are we aiming with observance due
To win their favor, which may profit us;
But with our friends we throw off all restraint;
Reposing in their love, we give the rein
To peevish humor; passion uncontroll’d
Doth break its bounds; and those we hold most dear
Are thus amongst the first whom we offend.
In this calm utterance of a thoughtful mind
I gladly recognize my friend again.
Yes, it has much annoy’d me, I confess—
That I to-day so far forgot myself.
But yet admit, that when a valiant man
From irksome labor comes with heated brow,
Thinking to rest himself for further toil
In the cool eve beneath the long’d-for shade,
And finds it, in its length and breadth, possess’d
Already, by some idler, he may well
Feel something human stirring in his breast.
If he is truly human, then, methinks,
He gladly will partake the shade with one
Who lightens toil, and cheers the hour of rest,
With sweet discourse and soothing melodies.
Ample, my friend, the tree that casts the shade,
Nor either needs the other dispossess.
We will not bandy similes, fair friend.
Full many a treasure doth the world contain,
Which we to others yield and with them share;
But there exists one prize, which we resign
With willing hearts to high desert alone;
Another, that without a secret grudge,
We share not even with the highest worth—
And would’st thou touching these two treasures ask—
They are the laurel and fair woman’s smile.
How! Hath yon chaplet round our stripling’s brow
Given umbrage to the grave, experienc’d man?
Say, for his toil divine, his lofty verse,
Could’st thou thyself a juster meed select?
A ministration in itself divine,
That floateth in the air in tuneful tones,
Evoking airy forms to charm our soul—
Such ministration, in expressive form,
Or graceful symbol, finds its fit reward.
As doth the bard scarce deign to touch the earth,
So doth the laurel lightly touch his brow.
His worshippers, with barren homage, bring
As tribute meet a fruitless branch, that thus
They may with ease acquit them of their debt.
Thou dost not grudge the martyr’s effigy,
The golden radiance round the naked head;
And, certes, where it rests, the laurel crown
Is more a sign of sorrow than of joy.
How, Leonora! Would thy lovely lips
Teach me to scorn the world’s poor vanities?
There is no need, my friend, to tutor thee
To prize each good according to its worth.
Yet it would seem that, e’en like common men,
The sage philosopher, from time to time,
Needs that the treasures he is bless’d withal,
In their true light before him be display’d.
Thou, noble man, wilt not assert thy claim
To a mere empty phantom of renown.
The service that doth bind thy prince to thee,
By means of which thou dost attach thy friends,
Is true, is living service, hence the meed
Which doth reward it must be living too.
Thy laurel is thy sovereign’s confidence,
Which, like a cherish’d burden, gracefully
Reposes on thy shoulders,—thy renown,
Thy crown of glory, is the general trust.
Thou speakest not of woman’s smile, that, surely,
Thou wilt not tell me is superfluous.
As people take it. Thou dost lack it not:
And lighter far, were ye depriv’d of it,
To thee would be the loss than to our friend.
For say, a woman were in thy behalf
To task her skill, and in her fashion strive
To care for thee, dost think she would succeed?
With thee security and order dwell;
And as for others, for thyself thou carest;
Thou dost possess what friendship fain would give;
Whilst in our province he requires our aid.
A thousand things he needs, which to supply
Is to a woman no unwelcome task.
The fine-spun linen, the embroider’d vest,
He weareth gladly, and endureth not,
Upon his person, aught of texture rude,
Such as befits the menial. For with him
All must be rich and noble, fair and good;
And yet all this to win he lacks the skill;
Nor even when possess’d, can he retain;
Improvident, he’s still in want of gold;
Nor from a journey e’er returneth home,
But a third portion of his goods is lost.
His valet plunders him, and thus, Antonio,
The whole year round one has to care for him.
And these same cares endear him more and more.
Much-favor’d youth, to whom his very faults
As virtues count, to whom it is allow’d
As man to play the boy, and who forsooth
May proudly boast his charming weaknesses!
Thou must forgive me, my fair friend, if here
Some little touch of bitterness I feel.
Thou say’st not all, say’st not how he presumes,
And proves himself far shrewder than he seems.
He boasts two tender flames! The knots of love,
As fancy prompts him, he doth bind and loose.
And wins with such devices two such hearts!
Well! Well! This only proves
That ’tis but friendship that inspires our hearts.
And e’en if we return’d him love for love,
Should we not well reward his noble heart,
Who, self-oblivious, dreams his life away
In lovely visions to enchant his friends?
Go on! Go on! Spoil him yet more and more,
Account his selfish vanity for love;
Offend all other friends with honest zeal
Devoted to your service; to his pride
Pay voluntary tribute; quite destroy
The beauteous sphere of social confidence!
We are not quite so partial as thou think’st;
In many cases we exhort our friend.
We wish to mould his mind, that he may know
More happiness himself, and be a source
Of purer joy to others. What in him
Doth merit blame is not conceal’d from us.
Yet much that’s blamable in him ye praise.
I’ve known him long, so easy ’tis to know him,
Too proud he is to wear the least disguise.
We see him now retire into himself.
As if the world were rounded in his breast;
Lost in the working of that inner world,
The outward universe he casts aside,
And his rapt spirit, self-included, rests.
Anon, as when a spark doth fire a mine,
Upon a touch of sorrow or of joy,
Anger or whim, he breaks impetuous forth.
Now he must compass all things, all retain,
All his caprices must be realiz’d;
What should have ripen’d slowly through long years.
Must, in a moment, reach maturity;
And obstacles, which years of patient toil
Could scarce remove, be levell’d in a trice.
He from himself th’ impossible demands,
That he from others may demand it too;
Th’ extreniest limits of existing things
His soul would hold in contiguity,
This one man in a million scarce achieves,
And he is not that man; at length he falls,
No whit the better, back into himself.
Others he injures not, himself he injures.
Yet others he doth outrage grievously.
Canst thou deny that in his passion’s height.
Which o’er his spirit oft usurps control,
The prince and e’en the princess he contemns,
And dares at whom he may to hurl abuse?
True, for a moment only it endures;
But then the moment quickly comes again.
His tongue, as little as his breast, he rules.
To me, indeed, it seems advisable
That he should leave Ferrara for awhile;—
Himself would benefit, and others too.
Perchance,—perchance too not. But now, my friend,
It is not to be thought of. For myself.
I will not on my shoulders bear the blame.
It might appear as if I drove him hence.
I drive him not. As far as I’m concern’d,
He at the court may tarry undisturb’d:
And if with me he will be reconcil’d,
And to my counsel if he will give heed,
We may live peaceably enough together.
Now thou dost hope to work upon a mind
Which lately thou didst look upon as lost.
We always hope, and still in every case
’Tis better far to hope than to despair;
For who can calculate the possible?
Our prince esteems him; he must stay with us;
And if we strive to fashion him in vain,
He’s not the only one we must endure.
So free from passion and from prejudice
I had not thought thee;—thy conversion’s sudden.
Age must, my friend, this one advantage claim,
That, though from error it be not exempt,
Its balance it recovers speedily.
Thou didst at first essay to heal the breach
Between thy friend and me. I urge it now.
Do what thou canst to bring him to himself,
And to restore things to their wonted calm.
Myself will visit him, when I shall know
From thee that he is tranquil, when thou thinkest
My presence will not aggravate the evil.
But what thou dost, that do within the hour;
Alphonso will return to town ere night;
I must attend him there. Meanwhile, farewell!