Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Hartz Mountains

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.

Harz Mountains

Hartz Mountains

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

(From Faust)
Translated by P. B. Shelley

FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES, in alternate Chorus.
THE LIMITS of the sphere of dream,

The bounds of true and false, are past.

Lead us on, thou wandering gleam,

Lead us onward, far and fast,

To the wide, the desert waste.

But see, how swift advance and shift

Trees behind trees, row by row,—

How, clift by clift, rocks bend and lift

Their frowning foreheads as we go.

The giant-snouted crags, ho, ho!

How they snort, and how they blow!

Through the mossy sods and stones

Stream and streamlet hurry down,

A rushing throng! A sound of song

Beneath the vault of heaven is blown!

Sweet notes of love, the speaking tones

Of this bright day, sent down to say

That paradise on earth is known,

Resound around, beneath, above;

All we hope and all we love

Finds a voice in this blithe strain,

Which wakens hill and wood and rill,

And vibrates far o’er field and vale,

And which echo, like the tale

Of old times, repeats again.

To-whoo! to-whoo! near, nearer now

The sound of song, the rushing throng!

Are the screech, the lapwing, and the jay,

All awake as if ’t were day?

See, with long legs and belly wide,

A salamander in the brake!

Every root is like a snake,

And along the loose hillside,

With strange contortions through the night,

Curls, to seize or to affright;

And animated, strong, and many,

They dart forth polypus-antennæ,

To blister with their poison spume

The wanderer. Through the dazzling gloom

The many-colored mice that thread

The dewy turf beneath our tread,

In troops each other’s motions cross,

Through the heath and through the moss;

And in legions intertangled,

The fireflies flit, and swarm, and throng,

Till all the mountain-depths are spangled.

Tell me, shall we go or stay?

Shall we onward? Come along!

Everything around is swept

Forward, onward, far away!

Trees and masses intercept

The sight, and wisps on every side

Are puffed up and multiplied.

Now vigorously seize my skirt, and gain

This pinnacle of isolated crag.

One may observe with wonder from this point

How Mammon glows among the mountains.


And strangely through the solid depth below

A melancholy light, like the red dawn,

Shoots from the lowest gorge of the abyss

Of mountains, lighting hitherward; there rise

Pillars of smoke; here clouds float gently by;

Here the light burns soft as the enkindled air,

Or the illumined dust of golden flowers;

And now it glides like tender colors spreading,

And now bursts forth in fountains from the earth,

And now it winds one torrent of broad light

Through the far valley with a hundred veins;

And now once more within that narrow corner

Masses itself into intensest splendor.

And near us see sparks spring out of the ground,

Like golden sand scattered upon the darkness;

The pinnacles of that black wall of mountains

That hems us in are kindled.

Rare, in faith!

Does not Sir Mammon gloriously illuminate

His palace for this festival,—it is

A pleasure which you had not known before.

I spy the boisterous guests already.


The children of the wind rage in the air!

With what fierce strokes they fall upon my neck!

Cling tightly to the old ribs of the crag.

Beware! for if with them thou warrest

In their fierce flight towards the wilderness,

Their breath will sweep thee into dust, and drag

Thy body to a grave in the abyss.

A cloud thickens the night.

Hark! how the tempest crashes through the forest!

The owls fly out in strange affright:

The columns of the evergreen palaces

Are split and shattered;

The roots creak, and stretch, and groan;

And, ruinously overthrown,

The trunks are crushed and shattered

By the fierce blast’s unconquerable stress.

Over each other crack and crash they all

In terrible and intertangled fall;

And through the ruins of the shaken mountain

The airs hiss and howl,—

It is not the voice of the fountain,

Nor the wolf in his midnight prowl.

Dost thou not hear?

Strange accents are ringing

Aloft, afar, anear;

The witches are singing!

The torrent of a raging wizard’s-song

Streams the whole mountain along.