by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I KNOW a flower of beauty rare,
Ah, how I hold it dear!
To seek it I would fain repair,
Were I not prison'd here.
My sorrow sore oppresses me,
For when I was at liberty,
I had it close beside me.
Though from this castle's walls so steep
I cast mine eyes around,
And gaze oft from the lofty keep,
The flower can not be found.
Whoe'er would bring it to my sight,
Whether a vassal he, or knight,
My dearest friend I'd deem him.
I blossom fair,--thy tale of woes
I hear from 'neath thy grate.
Thou doubtless meanest me, the rose.
Poor knight of high estate!
Thou hast in truth a lofty mind;
The queen of flowers is then enshrin'd,
I doubt not, in thy bosom.
Thy red, in dress of green array'd,
As worth all praise I hold;
And so thou'rt treasured by each maid
Like precious stones or gold.
Thy wreath adorns the fairest face
But still thou'rt not the flower whose grace
I honour here in silence.
The rose is wont with pride to swell,
And ever seeks to rise;
But gentle sweethearts love full well
The lily's charms to prize,
The heart that fills a bosom true,
That is, like me, unsullied too,
My merit values duly.
In truth, I hope myself unstain'd,
And free from grievous crime;
Yet I am here a prisoner chain'd,
And pass in grief my time,
To me thou art an image sure
Of many a maiden, mild and pure,
And yet I know a dearer.
That must be me, the pink, who scent
The warder's garden here;
Or wherefore is he so intent
My charms with care to rear?
My petals stand in beauteous ring,
Sweet incense all around I fling,
And boast a thousand colours.
The pink in truth we should not slight,
It is the gardener's pride
It now must stand exposed to light,
Now in the shade abide.
Yet what can make the Count's heart glow
Is no mere pomp of outward show;
It is a silent flower.
Here stand I, modestly half hid,
And fain would silence keep;
Yet since to speak I now am bid,
I'll break my silence deep.
If, worthy Knight, I am that flower,
It grieves me that I have not power
To breathe forth all my sweetness.
The violet's charms I prize indeed,
So modest 'tis, and fair,
And smells so sweet; yet more I need
To ease my heavy care.
The truth I'll whisper in thine ear:
Upon these rocky heights so drear,
I cannot find the loved one.
The truest maiden 'neath the sky
Roams near the stream below,
And breathes forth many a gentle sigh,
Till I from hence can go.
And when she plucks a flow'ret blue,
And says "Forget-me-not!"--I, too,
Though far away, can feel it.
Ay, distance only swells love's might,
When fondly love a pair;
Though prison'd in the dungeon's night,
In life I linger there
And when my heart is breaking nigh,
"Forget-me-not!" is all I cry,
And straightway life returneth.