Front Page Titles (by Subject) SCENE V. - Goethe's Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc)
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SCENE V. - 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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If that a foeman—as thou deem’st thyself
Environ’d by a multitude of foes—
Beside thee stood, how would he triumph now!
Unhappy man! I am not yet myself!
When something quite unparallel’d occurs,
When something monstrous first arrests our sight,
The stagger’d spirit stands a moment still,
For we know nothing to compare it with.
(After a long pause.) Fulfil thine office, I perceive ’tis thou!
Ay, thou deserv’st the prince’s confidence.
Fulfil thine office, since my doom is seal’d.
With ling’ring tortures, torture me to death!
Draw! draw the shaft, that I may feel the barb
That lacerates, with cruel pangs, my heart!
The tyrant’s precious instrument art thou;
Be thou his gaoler,—executioner,—
For these are offices become thee well!
(Towards the scene.)
Yes, tyrant, go! Thou could’st not to the last
Thy wonted mask retain; in triumph go!
Thy slave thou hast well pinion’d, hast reserv’d
For predetermin’d and protracted pangs:
Yes, go! I hate thee. In my heart I feel
The horror which despotic power excites,
When it is grasping, cruel and unjust.
(After a pause.)
Thus, then, at last I see myself exil’d,
Turn’d off, and thrust forth like a mendicant!
Thus they with garlands wreath’d me, but to lead
The victim to the shrine of sacrifice!
Thus, at the very last, with cunning words,
They drew from me my only property,
My poem,—ay, and they retain it too!
Now is my one possession in your hands,
My bright credential wheresoe’er I went;
My sole resource ’gainst biting poverty!
Ay, now I see why I must take mine ease.
’Tis a conspiracy, and thou the head.
Thus that my song may not be perfected,
That my renown may ne’er be spread abroad,
That envy still a thousand faults may find,
And my unhonor’d name forgotten die;
Therefore I must consent to idleness,
Therefore must spare my faculties, myself.
O precious friendship! Dear solicitude!
Odious appear’d the dark conspiracy
Which ceaseless round me wove its viewless web,
But still more odious does it now appear!
And, thou too, Siren! who so tenderly
Didst lead me on with thy celestial mien,
Thee now I know! Wherefore, O God, so late!
But we so willingly deceive ourselves,
We honor reprobates, who honor us.
True men are never to each other known;
Such knowledge is reserv’d for galley-slaves,
Chain’d to a narrow plank, who gasp for breath,
Where none hath aught to ask, nor aught to lose,
Where for a rascal each avows himself,
And holds his neighbor for a rascal too,—
Such men as these perchance may know each other.
But for the rest, we courteously misjudge them,
Hoping they may misjudge us in return.
How long thine hallow’d image from my gaze
Veil’d the coquette, working, with paltry arts!
The mask has fallen!—Now I see Armida
Denuded of her charms,—yes, thou art she,
Of whom my bodeful verse prophetic sang!
And then the little, cunning go-between!
With what profound contempt I view her now!
I hear the rustling of her stealthy step,
As round me still she spreads her artful toils.
Ay, now I know you! And let that suffice!
And misery, though it beggar me of all,
I honor still,—for it hath taught me truth.
I hear thee with amazement, though I know
How thy rash humor, Tasso, urges thee
To rush in haste to opposite extremes.
Collect thy spirit and command thy rage!
Thou speakest slander, dost indulge in words
Which to thine anguish though they be forgiven,
Yet thou canst ne’er forgive unto thyself.
Oh, speak not to me with a gentle lip,
Let me not hear one prudent word from thee!
Leave me my sullen happiness, that I
May not regain my senses, but to lose them.
My very bones are crush’d, yet do I live;—
Ay! live to feel the agonizing pain.
Despair enfolds me in its ruthless grasp,
And, in the hell-pang that annihilates,
These sland’rous words are but the feeble cry,
Wrung from the depth of my sore agony.
I will away! If honest, point the path,
And suffer me at once to fly from hence.
In thine extremity I will not leave thee;
And should’st thou wholly lose thy self-control,
My patience shall not fail.
And must I then
Yield myself up a prisoner to thee?
Resign’d I yield myself, and it is done;
I cease to struggle, and ’tis well with me—
Now let mine anguish’d heart recall how fair
What, as in sport, I madly flung away.
They hence depart—O God! I there behold
The dust, ascending from their chariot wheels—
The riders in advance—ay, there they go,
E’en to the very place from whence I came!
Now they are gone—they are estrang’d from me.
Oh, that I once again had kiss’d his hand!
Oh, that I once again might say farewell!
Once only might I falter: O forgive!
Once only hear the word: Go, thou’rt forgiven!
Alas! I hear it not;—I ne’er shall hear it—
Yes, I will go! Let me but say farewell,
Only farewell! Give me, oh, give me back
Their long’d-for presence for a single moment!
Perchance I might recover! Never more!
I am rejected, doom’d to banishment!
Alas! I am self-banish’d, never more
To hear that gentle voice, that tender glance
To meet no more—
Yet hear the voice of one
Who, not without emotion, stands beside thee!
Thou’rt not so wretched, Tasso, as thou thinkest.
Collect thyself! Too much thou art unmann’d.
And am I then as wretched as I seem?
Am I as weak as I do show myself?
Say, is all lost? Has sorrow’s direful stroke,
As with an earthquake’s sudden shock, transform’d
The stately pile into a ruin’d heap?
Is all the genius flown that did erewhile
So richly charm, and so exalt my soul?
Is all the power extinguish’d which of yore
Stirr’d in my bosom’s depths? Am I become
A nothing? A mere nothing? No, all’s here!
I have it still, and yet myself am nothing!
I from myself am sever’d, she from me!
Though to thyself thou seemest so forlorn,
Be calm, and bear in mind what still thou art!
Ay, in due season thou remindest me!—
Hath history no example for mine aid?
Before me doth there rise no man of worth
Who more hath borne than I, that with his fate,
Mine own comparing, I may gather strength.
No, all is gone!—But one thing still remains;
Tears, balmy tears, kind nature has bestow’d.
The cry of anguish, when the man at length
Can bear no more—yea, and to me beside,
She leaves in sorrow melody and speech,
To utter forth the fulness of my woe:
Though in their mortal anguish men are dumb,
To me a God hath given to tell my grief.
[Antonioapproaches him and takes his hand.
O noble man! thou standest firm and calm,
While I am like the tempest-driven wave.
But be not boastful of thy strength. Reflect!
Nature, whose mighty power hath fix’d the rock,
Gives to the wave its instability.
She sends her storm, the passive wave is driven,
And rolls, and swells, and falls in billowy foam.
Yet in this very wave the glorious sun
Mirrors his splendor, and the quiet stars
Upon its heaving bosom gently rest.
Dimm’d is the splendor, vanish’d is the calm!
In danger’s hour I know myself no longer,
Nor am I now asham’d of the confession.
The helm is broken, and on every side
The reeling vessel splits. The riven planks,
Bursting asunder, yawn beneath my feet!
Thus with my outstretch’d arms I cling to thee!
So doth the shipwreck’d mariner at last
Cling to the rock, whereon his vessel struck.
Sophie Guilbert (néeBeaumarchais).
The scene is at Madrid.