Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Aug. 28, 1749 - Mar. 22, 1832

 

The Treasure-Seeker

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I.

Many weary days I suffer'd,
Sick of heart and poor of purse;
Riches are the greatest blessing --
Poverty the deepest curse!
Till at last to dig a treasure
Forth I went into the wood --
Fiend! my soul is thine for ever!
And I sign'd the scroll with blood.

II.

Then I drew the magic circles,
Kindled the mysterious fire,
Placed the herbs and bones in order,
Spoke the incantation dire.
And I sought the buried metal
With a spell of mickle might --
Sought it as my master taught me;
Black and stormy was the night.

III.

And I saw a light appearing
In the distance, like a star;
When the midnight hour was tolling,
Came it waxing from afar:
Came it flashing, swift and sudden,
As if fiery wine it were,
Flowing from an open chalice,
Which a beauteous boy did bear.

IV.

And he wore a lustrous chaplet,
And his eyes were full of thought,
As he stepp'd into the circle
With the radiance that he brought.
And he bade me taste the goblet;
And I thought -- It cannot be,
That this boy should be the bearer
Of the Demon's gifts to me!

V.

Taste the draught of pure existence
Sparkling in this golden urn,
And no more with baleful magic
Shalt thou hitherward return.
Do not seek for treasures longer;
Let thy future spellwords be,
Days of labour, nights of resting:
So shall peace return to thee!

Source:

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