by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
CANST thou give, oh fair and matchless maiden,
'Neath the shadow of the lindens yonder,--
Where I'd fain one moment cease to wander,--
Food and drink to one so heavy laden?
Wouldst thou find refreshment, traveller weary,
Bread, ripe fruit and cream to meet thy wishes,--
None but Nature's plain and homely dishes,--
Near the spring may soothe thy wanderings dreary.
Dreams of old acquaintance now pass through me,
Ne'er-forgotten queen of hours of blisses.
Likenesses I've often found, but this is
One that quite a marvel seemeth to me!
Travellers often wonder beyond measure,
But their wonder soon see cause to smother;
Fair and dark are often like each other,
Both inspire the mind with equal pleasure.
Not now for the first time I surrender
To this form, in humble adoration;
It was brightest midst the constellation
In the hail adorn'd with festal splendour.
Be thou joyful that 'tis in my power
To complete thy strange and merry story!
Silks behind her, full of purple glory,
Floated, when thou saw'st her in that hour.
No, in truth, thou hast not sung it rightly!
Spirits may have told thee all about it;
Pearls and gems they spoke of, do not doubt it,--
By her gaze eclipsed,--it gleam'd so brightly!
This one thing I certainly collected:
That the fair one--(say nought, I entreat thee!)
Fondly hoping once again to meet thee,
Many a castle in the air erected.
By each wind I ceaselessly was driven,
Seeking gold and honour, too, to capture!
When my wand'rings end, then oh, what rapture,
If to find that form again 'tis given!
'Tis the daughter of the race now banish'd
That thou seest, not her likeness only;
Helen and her brother, glad though lonely,
Till this farm of their estate now vanish'd.
But the owner surely is not wanting
Of these plains, with ev'ry beauty teeming?
Verdant fields, broad meads, and pastures gleaming,
Gushing springs, all heav'nly and enchanting.
Thou must hunt the world through, wouldst thou find him!--
We have wealth enough in our possession,
And intend to purchase the succession,
When the good man leaves the world behind him.
I have learnt the owner's own condition,
And, fair maiden, thou indeed canst buy it;
But the cost is great, I won't deny it,--
Helen is the price,--with thy permission!
Did then fate and rank keep us asunder,
And must Love take this road, and no other?
Yonder comes my dear and trusty brother;
What will he say to it all, I wonder?