Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Asiatic Russia: Caucasus, the Mountains


By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Translated by J. S. Dwight

BLACKEN thy heavens, Jove,

With thunder-clouds,

And exercise thee, like a boy

Who thistles crops,

With smiting oaks and mountain-tops!

Yet must thou leave me standing

My own firm Earth;

Must leave my cottage, which thou didst not build,

And my warm hearth,

Whose cheerful glow

Thou enviest me.

I know naught more pitiful

Under the sun than you, Gods!

Ye nourish scantily,

With altar-taxes

And with cold lip-service,

This your majesty;—

Would perish, were not

Children and beggars

Credulous fools.

When I was a child,

And knew not whence or whither,

I would turn my wildered eye

To the sun, as if up yonder were

An ear to hear to my complaining,—

A heart, like mine,

On the oppressed to feel compassion.

Who helped me,

When I braved the Titans’ insolence?

Who rescued me from death,

From slavery?

Hast thou not all thyself accomplished,

Holy-glowing heart?

And, glowing young and good,

Most ignorantly thanked

The slumberer above there?

I honor thee? For what?

Hast thou the miseries lightened

Of the down-trodden?

Hast thou the tears ever banished

From the afflicted?

Have I not to manhood been moulded

By omnipotent Time,

And by Fate everlasting,—

My lords and thine?

Dreamedst thou ever

I should grow weary of living,

And fly to the desert,

Since not all our

Pretty dream-buds ripen?

Here sit I, fashion men

In mine own image,—

A race to be like me,

To weep and to suffer,

To be happy and to enjoy themselves,—

All careless of thee too,

As I!