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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Introductory to Arabia

Mahomet’s Song

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translated by J. S. Dwight

SEE the rocky spring,

Clear as joy,

Like a sweet star gleaming!

O’er the clouds, he

In his youth was cradled

By good spirits,

’Neath the bushes in the cliffs.

Fresh with youth,

From the cloud he dances

Down upon the rocky pavement;

Thence, exulting,

Leaps to heaven.

For a while he dallies

Round the summit,

Through its little channels chasing

Motley pebbles round and round;

Quick, then, like determined leader,

Hurries all his brother streamlets

Off with him.

There, all round him in the vale,

Flowers spring up beneath his footstep,

And the meadow

Wakes to feel his breath.

But him holds no shady vale,

No cool blossoms,

Which around his knees are clinging,

And with loving eyes entreating

Passing notice;—on he speeds

Winding snake-like.

Social brooklets

Add their waters. Now he rolls

O’er the plain in silvery splendor,

And the plain his splendor borrows;

And the rivulets from the plain,

And the brooklets from the hillsides

All are shouting to him: Brother,

Brother, take thy brothers too,

Take us to thy ancient Father,

To the everlasting ocean,

Who e’en now with outstretched arms,

Waits for us,—

Arms outstretched, alas! in vain

To embrace his longing ones;

For the greedy sand devours us,

Or the burning sun above us

Sucks our life-blood; or some hillock

Hems us into ponds. Ah! brother,

Take thy brothers from the plain,

Take thy brothers from the hillsides

With thee, to our Sire with thee!

Come ye all, then!

Now, more proudly,

On he swells; a countless race, they

Bear their glorious prince aloft!

On he rolls triumphantly,

Giving names to countries. Cities

Spring to being ’neath his foot.

Onward, with incessant roaring,

See! he passes proudly by

Flaming turrets, marble mansions,

Creatures of his fulness all.

Cedar houses bears this Atlas

On his giant shoulders. Rustling,

Flapping in the playful breezes,

Thousand flags about his head are

Telling of his majesty.

And so bears he all his brothers,

And his treasures, and his children,

To their Sire, all joyous roaring,

Pressing to his mighty heart.