VAINLY wouldst thou, to gain a heart,
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Heap up a maiden's lap with gold;
The joys of love thou must impart,
Wouldst thou e'er see those joys unfold.
The voices of the throng gold buys,
No single heart 'twill win for thee;
Wouldst thou a maiden make thy prize,
Thyself alone the bribe must be.
If by no sacred tie thou'rt bound,
Oh youth, thou must thyself restrain!
Well may true liberty be found,
Tho' man may seem to wear a chain.
Let one alone inflame thee e'er,
And if her heart with love o'erflows,
Let tenderness unite you there,
If duty's self no fetter knows.
First feel, oh youth! A girl then find
Worthy thy choice,--let her choose thee,
In body fair, and fair in mind,
And then thou wilt be blessed, like me.
I who have made this art mine own,
A girl have chosen such as this
The blessing of the priest alone
Is wanting to complete our bliss.
Nought but my rapture is her guide,
Only for me she cares to please,--
Ne'er wanton save when by my side,
And modest when the world she sees;
That time our glow may never chill,
She yields no right through frailty;
Her favour is a favour still,
And I must ever grateful be.
Yet I'm content, and full of joy,
If she'll but grant her smile so sweet,
Or if at table she'll employ,
To pillow hers, her lover's feet,
Give me the apple that she bit,
The glass from which she drank, bestow,
And when my kiss so orders it,
Her bosom, veil'd till then, will show.
And when she wills of love to speak,
In fond and silent hours of bliss,
Words from her mouth are all I seek,
Nought else I crave,--not e'en a kiss.
With what a soul her mind is fraught,
Wreath'd round with charms unceasingly!
She's perfect,--and she fails in nought
Save in her deigning to love me.
My rev'rence throws me at her feet,
My longing throws me on her breast;
This, youth, is rapture true and sweet,
Be wise, thus seeking to be blest.
When death shall take thee from her side,
To join the angelic choir above,
In heaven's bright mansions to abide,--
No diff'rence at the change thoult prove.