Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Aug. 28, 1749 - Mar. 22, 1832


The Fisher

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The water rush'd and bubbled by --
An angler near it lay,
And watch'd his quill, with tranquil eye,
Upon the current play.
And as he sits in wasteful dream,
He sees the flood unclose,
And from the middle of the stream
A river-maiden rose.

She sang to him with witching wile,
My brood why wilt thou snare,
With human craft and human guile,
To die in scorching air?
Ah! didst thou know how happy we,
Who dwell in waters clear,
Thou wouldst come down at once to me,
And rest for ever here.

The sun and ladye-moon they lave
Their tresses in the main,
And, breathing freshness from the wave,
Come doubly bright again.
The deep-blue sky, so moist and clear,
Hath it for thee no lute?
Does thine own face not woo thee down
Unto our waters pure?

The water rush'd and bubbled by --
It lapp'd his naked feet;
He thrill'd as though he felt the touch
Of maiden kisses sweet.
She spoke to him, she sang to him --
Resistless was her strain --
Half-drawn, he sank beneath the wave,
And ne'er was seen again.


Poems And Ballads Of Goethe
Copyright 1859
William Edmondstoune Aytoun, D.C.L. ("A.")
and Theodore Martin ("M.")
Delisser & Procter
508 Broadway, New York