Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Aug. 28, 1749 - Mar. 22, 1832


The Minstrel

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What sounds are those I hear, along
The drawbridge sweetly stealing
Within our hall I'd have that song,
That minstrel measure, pealing.

Then forth the little foot-page hied;
When he came back, the king he cried,
Bring in the aged minstrel!

Good-even to you, lordlings all;
Fair ladies all, good-even.
Lo, star on star! Within this hall
I see a radiant heaven.
In hall so bright with noble light,
'Tis not for thee to feast thy sight,
Old man, look not around thee!

He closed his eyne, he struck his lyre
In tones with passion laden,
Till every gallant's eye shot fire,
And down look'd every maiden.
The king, enraptured with his strain,
Held out to him a golden chain,
In guerdon of his harping.

The golden chain give not to me,
For noble's breast its glance is,
Who meets and beats thy enemy,
Amid the shock of lances.
Or give it to thy chancellere --
Let him its golden burden bear,
Among his other burdens.

I sing as sings the bird, whose note
The leafy bough is heard on.
The song that falters from my throat
For me is ample guerdon.
Yet I'd ask one thing, an I might,
A draught of brave wine, sparkling bright
Within a golden beaker!

The cup was brought. He drain'd its lees,
O draught that warms me cheerly!
Blest is the house, where gifts like these
Are counted trifles merely.
Lo, when you prosper, think on me,
And thank your God as heartily,
As for this draught I thank you!


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