WHEN through the nations stalks contagion wild,
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We from them cautiously should steal away.
E'en I have oft with ling'ring and delay
Shunn'd many an influence, not to be defil'd.
And e'en though Amor oft my hours beguil'd,
At length with him preferr'd I not to play,
And so, too, with the wretched sons of clay,
When four and three-lined verses they compil'd.
But punishment pursues the scoffer straight,
As if by serpent-torch of furies led
From bill to vale, from land to sea to fly.
I hear the genie's laughter at my fate;
Yet do I find all power of thinking fled
In sonnet-rage and love's fierce ecstasy.