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75 Works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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The New Paris

Story type: Literature

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A CHILD’S TALE, BY J. W. GOETHE. [The following fanciful tale occurs in the autobiography of Goethe, to which he has given the name of “Dichtung und Wahrheit.” He is supposed to tell it, in his childhood, to a party of juvenile friends, and he introduces it thus: “I could afford great amusement to my […]

MY heart is sad, My peace is o’er;I find it never And nevermore. When gone is he,The grave I see;The world’s wide allIs turned to gall. Alas, my head Is well-nigh crazed;My feeble mind Is sore amazed. My heart is sad, My peace is o’er;I find it never And nevermore. For him from the window […]

VANISH, dark clouds on high, Offspring of night!Let a more radiant beamThrough the blue ether gleam, Charming the sight!Would the dark clouds on high Melt into air!Stars glimmer tenderly, Planets more fair Shed their soft light.Spirits of heav’nly birth,Fairer than sons of earth,Quivering emotions true Hover above;Yearning affections, too, In their train move.See how the […]

Chorus of Angels

Story type: Poetry

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CHRIST is arisen! Mortal, all hail!Thou, of Earth’s prison Dreary and frail,Bursting the veil, Proudly hast risen! CHORUS OF WOMEN. Rich spices and myrrh, To embalm Him we brought;His corpse to inter His true followers sought.In pure cerements shrin’d, ‘Twas placed in the bierBut, alas! we now find That Christ is not here. CHORUS OF […]

THE ARCHANGELS’ SONG. RAPHAEL. THE sun still chaunts, as in old time, With brother-spheres in choral song,And with his thunder-march sublime Moves his predestined course along.Strength find the angels in his sight, Though he by none may fathomed be;Still glorious is each work of might As when first form’d in majesty. GABRIEL. And swift and […]

YE shadowy forms, again ye’re drawing near, So wont of yore to meet my troubled gaze!Were it in vain to seek to keep you here? Loves still my heart that dream of olden days?Oh, come then! and in pristine force appear, Parting the vapor mist that round me plays!My bosom finds its youthful strength again,Feeling […]

ANGELS.[Hovering in the higher regions of air, and hearing the immortal part of Faust.] THE spirit-region’s noble limb Hath ‘scaled the Archfiend’s power;For we have strength to rescue him Who labours ev’ry hour.And if he feels within his breast A ray of love from heaven.He’s met by all the squadron blest With welcome gladly given. […]

Ariel’s Song

Story type: Poetry

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HARK! the storm of hours draws near,Loudly to the spirit-earSigns of coming day appear.Rocky gates are wildly crashing,Phoebus’ wheels are onward dashing; (A wonderful noise proclaims the approach of the sun.) Light doth mighty sounds beget!Pealing loud as rolling thunder,Eye and ear it fills with wonder, Though itself unconscious yet.Downward steals it,’mongst the flowersSeeking deeper, […]

Chorus of Spirits

Story type: Poetry

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WHEN the moist and balmy gale Round the verdant meadow sighs,Odors sweet in misty veil At the twilight-hour arise.Murmurings soft of calm repose Rock the heart to child-like rest,And the day’s bright portals close On the eyes with toil oppress’d. Night already reigns o’er all, Strangely star is link’d to star;Planets mighty, sparkling small, Glitter […]

Ariel

Story type: Poetry

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WHEN in spring the gentle rain Breathes into the flower new birth,When the green and happy plain Smiles upon the sons of earth,Haste to give what help we may, Little elves of wondrous might!Whether good or evil they, Pity for them feels the sprite.

Margaret’s Song

Story type: Poetry

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O THOU well-tried in grief, Grant to thy child relief,And view with mercy this unhappy one! The sword within thy heart, Speechless with bitter smart,Thou Lookest up towards thy dying son. Thou look’st to God on high, And breathest many a sighO’er his and thy distress, thou holy One! Who e’er can know The depth […]

Garden Scene

Story type: Poetry

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Margaret. Faust. MARGARET. DOST thou believe in God? FAUST. Doth mortal live Who dares to say that he believes in God?Go, bid the priest a truthful answer give, Go, ask the wisest who on earth e’er trod,–Their answer will appear to beGiven alone in mockery. MARGARET. Then thou dost not believe? This sayest thou? FAUST. […]

WHO never eat with tears his bread, Who never through night’s heavy hoursSat weeping on his lonely bed,– He knows you not, ye heavenly powers! Through you the paths of life we gain, Ye let poor mortals go astray,And then abandon them to pain,– E’en here the penalty we pay

And sadnessAnd pensiveness blending Yearning And burningIn torment ne’er ending; Sad unto death,Proudly soaring above; Happy aloneIs the soul that doth love!

THE drum gives the signal! Loud rings the shrill fife!My love leads his troops on Full arm’d for the strife,While his hand grasps his lanceAs they proudly advance. My bosom pants wildly!My blood hotly flows!Oh had I a doublet,A helmet, and hose! Through the gate with bold footstep I after him hied,–Each province, each country […]

HIS bow and dart bearing,And torch brightly flaring, Dan Cupid on flies;With victory laden,To vanquish each maiden He roguishly tries. Up! up! On! on!His arms rattle loudly,His wings rustle proudly,And flames fill his eyes. Then finds he each bosom Defenseless and bare;They gladly receive him And welcome him there.The point of his arrows He lights […]

Song of the Fates

Story type: Poetry

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YE children of mortalsThe deities dread!The mastery hold theyIn hands all-eternal,And use them, unquestioned,What manner they like. Let him fear them doubly,Whom they have uplifted!On cliffs and on clouds, oh,Round tables all-golden,he seats are made ready. When rises contention,The guests are humid downwardsWith shame and dishonorTo deep depths of midnight,And vainly await they,Bound fast in […]

[This fine piece, written originally in 1805, on Schiller’s death, was altered and recast by Goethe in 1815, on the occasion of the performance on the stage of the Song of the Bell. Hence the allusion in the last verse.] To this city joy reveal it! Peace as its first signal peal it! (Song of […]

SING no more in mournful tones Of the loneliness of night;For ’tis made, ye beauteous ones, For all social pleasures bright. As of old to man a wife As his better half was given,So the night is half our life, And the fairest under heaven. How can ye enjoy the day, Which obstructs our rapture’s […]

My grief no mortals know, Except the yearning!Alone, a prey to woe, All pleasure spurning,Up tow’rds the sky I throw A gaze discerning. He who my love can know Seems ne’er returning;With strange and fiery glow My heart is burning.My grief no mortals know, Except the yearning!

WHO gives himself to solitude, Soon lonely will remain;Each lives, each loves in joyous mood, And leaves him to his pain. Yes! leave me to my grief!Were solitude’s relief E’er granted me, Alone I should not be. A lover steals, on footstep light, To learn if his love’s alone;Thus o’er me steals, by day and […]

THE soul of manResembleth water:From heaven it cometh,To heaven it soareth.And then againTo earth descendeth,Changing ever. Down from the loftyRocky wallStreams the bright flood,Then spreadeth gentlyIn cloudy billowsO’er the smooth rock,And welcomed kindly,Veiling, on roams it,Soft murmuring,Tow’rd the abyss. Cliffs projectingOppose its progress,–Angrily foams itDown to the bottom,Step by step. Now, in flat channel,Through the […]

My Goddess

Story type: Poetry

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SAY, which ImmortalMerits the highest reward?With none contend I,But I will give itTo the aye-changing,Ever-movingWondrous daughter of Jove.His best-beloved offspring.Sweet Phantasy. For unto herHath he grantedAll the fancies which erstTo none allow’d heSaving himself;Now he takes his pleasureIn the mad one. She may, crowned with roses,With staff twined round with lilies,Roam thro’ flow’ry valleys,Rule the […]

To Father Kronos

Story type: Poetry

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[written in a post-chaise.] (* In the original, Schwager, which has the twofold meaning of brother-in-law and postilion.) HASTEN thee, Kronos!On with clattering trotDownhill goeth thy path;Loathsome dizziness ever,When thou delayest, assails me.Quick, rattle along,Over stock and stone let thy trotInto life straightway lead Now once moreUp the toilsome ascentHasten, panting for breath!Up, then, nor […]

The Sea-Voyage

Story type: Poetry

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MANY a day and night my bark stood ready laden;Waiting fav’ring winds, I sat with true friends round me,Pledging me to patience and to courage,In the haven. And they spoke thus with impatience twofold:“Gladly pray we for thy rapid passage,Gladly for thy happy voyage; fortuneIn the distant world is waiting for thee,In our arms thoult […]

IN search of prey once raised his pinionsAn eaglet;A huntsman’s arrow came, and reftHis right wing of all motive power.Headlong he fell into a myrtle grove,For three long days on anguish fed,In torment writhedThroughout three long, three weary nights;And then was cured,Thanks to all-healing Nature’sSoft, omnipresent balm.He crept away from out the copse,And stretch’d his […]

WHEN the primevalAll-holy FatherSows with a tranquil handFrom clouds, as they roll,Bliss-spreading lightningsOver the earth,Then do I kiss the lastHem of his garment,While by a childlike aweFiil’d is my breast. For with immortalsNe’er may a mortalMeasure himself.If he soar upwardsAnd if he touchWith his forehead the stars,Nowhere will rest thenHis insecure feet,And with him sportTempest […]

[THE remarkable Poem of which this is a literal but faint representation, was written when Goethe was only sixteen years old. It derives additional interest from the fact of its being the very earliest piece of his that is preserved. The few other pieces included by Goethe under the title of Religion and Church are […]

Tame Xenia

Story type: Poetry

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THE Epigrams bearing the title of XENIA were written by Goethe and Schiller together, having been first occasioned by some violent attacks made on them by some insignificant writers. They are extremely numerous, but scarcely any of them could be translated into English. Those here given are merely presented as a specimen. GOD gave to […]

Proverbs

Story type: Poetry

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‘TIS easier far a wreath to bind,Than a good owner fort to find. —–I KILL’D a thousand flies overnight,Yet was waken’d by one, as soon as twas light. —–To the mother I give;For the daughter I live. —–A BREACH is every day, By many a mortal storm’d;Let them fall in the gaps as they may, […]

A Symbol

Story type: Poetry

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(This fine poem is given by Goethe amongst a small collection of what he calls Loge (Lodge), meaning thereby Masonic pieces.) THE mason’s tradeResembles life,With all its strife,Is like the stir madeBy man on earth’s face.Though weal and woeThe future may hide,UnterrifiedWe onward goIn ne’er changing race.A veil of dreadHangs heavier still.Deep slumbers fillThe stars […]

WHAT time our Lord still walk’d the earth,Unknown, despised, of humble birth,And on Him many a youth attended(His words they seldom comprehended),It ever seem’d to Him most meetTo hold His court in open street,As under heaven’s broad canopyOne speaks with greater liberty.The teachings of His blessed wordFrom out His holy mouth were heard;Each market to […]

I. A MASTER of a country schoolJump’d up one day from off his stool,Inspired with firm resolve to tryTo gain the best society;So to the nearest baths he walk’d,And into the saloon he stalk’d.He felt quite. startled at the door,Ne’er having seen the like before.To the first stranger made he nowA very low and graceful […]

Valediction

Story type: Poetry

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I ONCE was fond of fools, And bid them come each day;Then each one brought his tools The carpenter to play;The roof to strip first choosing, Another to supply,The wood as trestles using, To move it by-and-by,While here and there they ran, And knock’d against each other;To fret I soon began, My anger could not […]

“THE mountain village was destroy’d;But see how soon is fill’d the void!Shingles and boards, as by magic arise,The babe in his cradle and swaddling-clothes lies;How blest to trust to God’s protection!” Behold a wooden new erection,So that, if sparks and wind but choose,God’s self at such a game must lose! 1821.

The Buyers

Story type: Poetry

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To an apple-woman’s stall Once some children nimbly ran;Longing much to purchase all,They with joyous haste beganSnatching up the piles there raised,While with eager eyes they gazedOn the rosy fruit so nice;But when they found out the price,Down they threw the whole they’d got,Just as if they were red hot. * * * * * […]

Threatening Signs

Story type: Poetry

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IF Venus in the evening skyIs seen in radiant majesty,If rod-like comets, red as blood,Are ‘mongst the constellations view’d,Out springs the Ignoramus, yelling:“The star’s exactly o’er my dwelling!What woeful prospect, ah, for me!Then calls his neighbour mournfully:“Behold that awful sign of evil,Portending woe to me, poor devil!My mother’s asthma ne’er will leave her,My child is […]

Wedding

Story type: Poetry

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A FEAST was in a village spread,It was a wedding-day, they said.The parlour of the inn I found,And saw the couples whirling round,Each lass attended by her lad,And all seem’d loving, blithe, and glad;But on my asking for the bride,A fellow with a stare, replied:“‘Tis not the place that point to raise! We’re only dancing […]

The Frogs

Story type: Poetry

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A POOL was once congeal’d with frost;The frogs, in its deep waters lost, No longer dared to croak or spring;But promised, being half asleep,If suffer’d to the air to creep, As very nightingales to sing. A thaw dissolved the ice so strong,–They proudly steer’d themselves along,When landed, squatted on the shore,And croak’d as loudly as […]

HARD ’tis on a fox’s traces To arrive, midst forest-glades;Hopeless utterly the chase is, If his flight the huntsman aids. And so ’tis with many a wonder, (Why A B make Ab in fact,)Over which we gape and blunder, And our head and brains distract. 1821.

The Fox and Crane

Story type: Poetry

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ONCE two persons uninvited Came to join my dinner table;For the nonce they lived united, Fox and crane yclept in fable. Civil greetings pass’d between us Then I pluck’d some pigeons tenderFor the fox of jackal-genius, Adding grapes in full-grown splendour. Long-neck’d flasks I put as dishes For the crane, without delaying,Fill’d with gold and […]

WHEN by the broad stream thou dost dwell, Oft shallow is its sluggish flood;Then, when thy fields thou tendest well, It o’er them spreads its slime and mud. The ships descend ere daylight wanes, The prudent fisher upward goes;Round reef and rock ice casts its chains, And boys at will the pathway close. To this […]

WITH eagerness he drinks the treach’rous potion, Nor stops to rest, by the first taste misled;Sweet is the draught, but soon all power of motion He finds has from his tender members fled;No longer has he strength to plume his wing,No longer strength to raise his head, poor thing!E’en in enjoyment’s hour his life he […]

A PLAN the Muses entertain’d Methodically to impart To Psyche the poetic art;Prosaic-pure her soul remain’d.No wondrous sounds escaped her lyre E’en in the fairest Summer night;But Amor came with glance of fire, The lesson soon was learn’d aright. 1827.

SHOULD e’er the loveless day remainObscured by storms of hail and rain, Thy charms thou showest never;I tap at window, tap at door:Come, lov’d one, come! appear once more! Thou art as fair as ever! 1827.

Songs

Story type: Poetry

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SONGS are like painted window-panes!In darkness wrapp’d the church remains,If from the market-place we view it;Thus sees the ignoramus through it.No wonder that he deems it tame,–And all his life ’twill be the same. But let us now inside repair,And greet the holy Chapel there!At once the whole seems clear and bright,Each ornament is bathed […]

WITHIN a town where parityAccording to old form we see,–That is to say, where CatholicAnd Protestant no quarrels pick,And where, as in his father’s day,Each worships God in his own way,We Luth’ran children used to dwell,By songs and sermons taught as well.The Catholic clingclang in truthSounded more pleasing to our youth,For all that we encounter’d […]

Celebrity

Story type: Poetry

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[A satire on his own Sorrows of Werther.] ON bridges small and bridges greatStands Nepomucks in ev’ry state,Of bronze, wood, painted, or of stone,Some small as dolls, some giants grown;Each passer must worship before Nepomuck,Who to die on a bridge chanced to have the ill luck,When once a man with head and earsA saint in […]

THE stork who worms and frogs devours That in our ponds reside,Why should he dwell on high church-towers, With which he’s not allied? Incessantly he chatters there, And gives our ears no rest;But neither old nor young can dare To drive him from his nest. I humbly ask it,–how can he Give of his title […]

The Yelpers

Story type: Poetry

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OUR rides in all directions bend, For business or for pleasure,Yet yelpings on our steps attend, And barkings without measure.The dog that in our stable dwells, After our heels is striding,And all the while his noisy yells But show that we are riding. 1815.

The Wrangler

Story type: Poetry

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ONE day a shameless and impudent wightWent into a shop full of steel wares bright,Arranged with art upon ev’ry shelf.He fancied they were all meant for himself;And so, while the patient owner stood by,The shining goods needs must handle and try,And valued,–for how should a fool better know?–The bad things high, and the good ones […]

A BOY a pigeon once possess’d,In gay and brilliant plumage dress’d;He loved it well, and in boyish sportIts food to take from his mouth he taught,And in his pigeon he took such pride,That his joy to others he needs must confide. An aged fox near the place chanc’d to dwell,Talkative, clever, and learned as well;The […]

The Critic

Story type: Poetry

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I HAD a fellow as my guest,Not knowing he was such a pest,And gave him just my usual fare;He ate his fill of what was there, And for desert my best things swallow’d,Soon as his meal was o’er, what follow’d?Led by the Deuce, to a neighbour he went,And talk’d of my food to his heart’s […]

Authors

Story type: Poetry

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OVER the meadows, and down the stream, And through the garden-walks straying,He plucks the flowers that fairest seem; His throbbing heart brooks no delaying.His maiden then comes–oh, what ecstasy!Thy flowers thou giv’st for one glance of her eye! The gard’ner next door o’er the hedge sees the youth:“I’m not such a fool as that, in […]

Legend

Story type: Poetry

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THERE lived in the desert a holy man To whom a goat-footed Faun one dayPaid a visit, and thus began To his surprise: “I entreat thee to prayThat grace to me and my friends may be given,That we may be able to mount to Heaven,For great is our thirst for heav’nly bliss.”The holy man made […]

Cat-Pie

Story type: Poetry

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WHILE he is mark’d by vision clear Who fathoms Nature’s treasures,The man may follow, void of fear, Who her proportions measures. Though for one mortal, it is true, These trades may both be fitted,Yet, that the things themselves are two Must always be admitted. Once on a time there lived a cook Whose skill was […]

A YOUNG fig-tree its form lifts high Within a beauteous garden;And see, a goat is sitting by. As if he were its warden. But oh, Quirites, how one errs! The tree is guarded badly;For round the other side there whirrs And hums a beetle madly. The hero with his well-mail’d coat Nibbles the branches tall […]

Joy

Story type: Poetry

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Joy from that in type we borrow,Which in life gives only sorrow. Joy. A DRAGON-FLY with beauteous wingIs hov’ring o’er a silv’ry spring;I watch its motions with delight,–Now dark its colours seem, now bright;Chameleon-like appear, now blue,Now red, and now of greenish hue.Would it would come still nearer me,That I its tints might better see […]

MANY good works I’ve done and ended,Ye take the praise–I’m not offended;For in the world, I’ve always thoughtEach thing its true position hath sought.When praised for foolish deeds am I,I set off laughing heartily;When blamed for doing something good,I take it in an easy mood.If some one stronger gives me hard blows,That it’s a jest, […]

Paulo post futuri

Story type: Poetry

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WEEP ye not, ye children dear, That as yet ye are unborn:For each sorrow and each tear Makes the father’s heart to mourn. Patient be a short time to it, Unproduced, and known to none;If your father cannot do it, By your mother ’twill be done. 1784.

IF men are never their thoughts to employ,Take care to provide them a life full of joy;But if to some profit and use thou wouldst bend them,Take care to shear them, and then defend them. 1815.

Old Age

Story type: Poetry

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OLD age is courteous–no one more:For time after time he knocks at the door,But nobody says, “Walk in, sir, pray!”Yet turns he not from the door away,But lifts the latch, and enters with speed.And then they cry “A cool one, indeed!” 1814.

My only Property

Story type: Poetry

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I FEEL that I’m possess’d of nought,Saving the free unfetterd thought Which from my bosom seeks to flow,And each propitious passing hourThat suffers me in all its power A loving fate with truth to know. 1814.

THE mist is fast clearing.And radiant is heaven,Whilst AEolus loosensOur anguish-fraught bond.The zephyrs are sighing,Alert is the sailor.Quick! nimbly be plying!The billows are riven,The distance approaches;I see land beyond! 1795.

Calm at Sea

Story type: Poetry

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SILENCE deep rules o’er the waters, Calmly slumb’ring lies the main,While the sailor views with trouble Nought but one vast level plain. Not a zephyr is in motion! Silence fearful as the grave!In the mighty waste of ocean Sunk to rest is ev’ry wave. 1795.

IF thou wouldst live unruffled by care,Let not the past torment thee e’er;If any loss thou hast to rue,Act as though thou wert born anew;Inquire the meaning of each day,What each day means itself will say;In thine own actions take thy pleasure,What others do, thou’lt duly treasure;Ne’er let thy breast with hate be supplied,And to […]

MODEST men must needs endure, And the bold must humbly bow;Thus thy fate’s the same, be sure, Whether bold or modest thou. 1815.

The best

Story type: Poetry

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WHEN head and heart are busy, say, What better can be found?Who neither loves nor goes astray, Were better under ground. 1815.

The Way To Behave

Story type: Poetry

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THOUGH tempers are bad and peevish folks swear,Remember to ruffle thy brows, friend, ne’er;And let not the fancies of women so fairE’er serve thy pleasure in life to impair. 1815.

IF thou to be a slave shouldst will,Thou’lt get no pity, but fare ill;And if a master thou wouldst be,The world will view it angrily;And if in statu quo thou stay,That thou art but a fool, they’ll say. 1815.

Genial Impulse

Story type: Poetry

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THUS roll I, never taking ease,My tub, like Saint Diogenes,Now serious am, now seek to please;Now love and hate in turn one sees;The motives now are those, now these;Now nothings, now realities.Thus roll I, never taking ease,My tub, like Saint Diogenes. 1810.

No! in truth there’s here no lack:White the bread, the maidens black!To another town, next night:Black the bread, the maidens white! 1815.

To Originals

Story type: Poetry

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A FELLOW says: “I own no school or college;No master lives whom I acknowledge;And pray don’t entertain the thoughtThat from the dead I e’er learnt aught.”This, if I rightly understand,Means: “I’m a blockhead at first hand.” 1815.

Charade (Sonnet)

Story type: Poetry

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Two words there ‘are, both short, of beauty rare, Whose sounds our lips so often love to frame, But which with clearness never can proclaim The things whose own peculiar stamp they bear. ‘Tis well in days of age and youth so fair, One on the other boldly to inflame; And if those words together […]

THE DOUBTERS. YE love, and sonnets write! Fate’s strange behest! The heart, its hidden meaning to declare, Must seek for rhymes, uniting pair with pair: Learn, children, that the will is weak, at best. Scarcely with freedom the o’erflowing breast As yet can speak, and well may it beware; Tempestuous passions sweep each chord that’s […]