The morn arrived; his footstep quickly scared
The gentle sleep that round my senses clung,
And I, awak'ning, from my cottage fared,
And up the mountain side with light heart sprung;
At every step I felt my gaze ensnared
By new-born flow'rs that full of dew-drops hung;
The youthful day awoke with ecstacy,
And all things quicken'd were, to quicken me.
And as I mounted, from the valley rose
A streaky mist, that upward slowly spread,
Then bent, as though my form it would enclose,
Then, as on pinions, soar'd above my head:
My gaze could now on no fair view repose,
in mournful veil conceal'd, the world seem'd dead; The clouds soon closed around me, as a tomb, And I was left alone in twilight gloom.
At once the sun his lustre seem'd to pour,
And through the mist was seen a radiant light;
Here sank it gently to the ground once more,
There parted it, and climb'd o'er wood and height.
How did I yearn to greet him as of yore,
After the darkness waxing doubly bright!
The airy conflict ofttimes was renew'd,
Then blinded by a dazzling glow I stood.
Ere long an inward impulse prompted me
A hasty glance with boldness round to throw;
At first mine eyes had scarcely strength to see,
For all around appear'd to burn and glow.
Then saw I, on the clouds borne gracefully,
A godlike woman hov'ring to and fro.
Goethe viewed the writing of poetry as essentially autobiographical and the works selected in this volume represent over sixty years in the life of the poet. In early poems such as 'Prometheus' he rails against religion in an almost ecstatic fervour, while 'To the Moon' is an enigmatic meditation on the end of a love affair. The Roman Elegies show Goethe's use of Classical metres in homage to abcient Rome and its poets, and 'The Diary' , supressed for more than a century, is a narrative poem whose eroticism is unusually combined with its morality.
Arranged chronologically, David Luke's verse translations are set alonjgside the German orginals to give a picture of Goethe's poetic development. This edition also includes an introduction and notes placing the poems in the context of the poet's life and times.