Page images



Woe, if once, with deafening roar,

Nought its fury to withstand,
Through the peopled streets it pour,

Hurling wide the deadly brand !
Eager the elements devour
Every work of human hand.

Hark! what tumult now
Rends the sky!
Lo! the smoke up-rolling high!
Flickering mount the fiery shafts; -
Where the wind its wild wave wafts,
Onward through the streets' long course,
Rolls the flame with gathering force ;
As in an oven's jaws, the air,
Heated, glows with ruddy glare;
Falling fast, the rafters shatter,
Pillars clash and windows clatter,
Children scream and mothers scatter;
Beasts, to perish, left alone,
Mid the ruins groan.
All is hurry, rescue, flight;
Clear as noon-day is the night;
Through the hands, in lengthened rows,

Buckets fly;
Through the air, in graceful bows,

Shoots the watery stream on high.
Fierce the howling tempest grows;
Swiftly, borne upon the blast,
Rides the flame, devouring fast;
Roaring, crackling, it consumes
All the crowded granary rooms;
All the rafters blaze on high;
And, as if 't would tear away
Earth's foundations in its flight,
On it mounts to heaven's height,

Giant tall !
Hope hath all

Man forsaken; helpless now,
He to heavenly might must bow,

Idly musing o'er his fall,
Wondering at his work laid low.

Burnt to ashes

Lies the town,
Like a desert spread

For the wild storm's bed.
Through the dreary window holes
Darkness lurks, and boding owls ;
Through bare walls the clouds look down.

Lingering yet,
One look he casts
O'er the tomb,

Where his hopes were wont to bloom ;
Then takes


the wanderer's staff;
Now at fortune he may laugh;

his sweetest, purest joy,
The cruel flame could not destroy ;
Where are those lives, than life more dear?
His little innocents ? - Are they here?
He numbers o'er his little band,
And all his dear ones round him stand.

[ocr errors]

[7'ranslated from the German.]

THE DIVISION OF THE EARTH. “HERE, take the world !” cried Jove, from his high heaven,

To mortals. “ Take it; it is yours, ye elves; 'T is yours, for an eternal heirdom given;

Share it like brothers ’mongst yourselves."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Then hastened every one himself to suit,

And busily were stirring old and young :The Farmer seized upon the harvest fruit;

The Squire's horn through the woodland rung.


The Merchant grasped his costly warehouse loads ;

The Abbot chose him noble pipes of wine;
The King closed up the bridges and the roads,

And said, “ The tenth of all is mine."

Quite late, long after all had been divided,

The Poet came, from distant wandering;
Alas! the thing was everywhere decided, -

Proprietors for everything!
“Ah, woe is me! shall I alone, of all,

Forgotten be? — I, thy most faithful son?”
In loud lament he thus began to bawl,

And threw himself before Jove's throne.


" [f in the land of dreams thou hast delayed,"

Replied the god," then quarrel not with me;
Where wast thou when division here was made ?"

• I' was,” the poet said, “ with thee ;-
" Mine eyes hung on thy countenance so bright,

Mine ear drank in thy heaven's harmony;
Forgive the soul, which, drunken with thy light,

Forgot the earth had aught for me.”

“ What shall I do?” said Zeus; “ the world's all given ;

The harvest, chase or market, no more mine;
If thou wilt come and live with me in heaven,

As often as thou comest, my home is thine.”


BETTINA BRENTANO. The mother of Goethe was a woman of strong intellectual powers, and fully capable of appreciating the greatness of her son. In old age, she retained all the warmth, freshness and taste of youth, as is evident in her intercourse with the young girl Bettina. 6. The subtle harmonies, and soft aerial grace of Günderode, can only be described through multiplied traits. The extracts which follow will give a slight idea of her. Bettina -a girl of wild genius and strange fancies — is best known by Goethe's Correspondence with a Child." While yet a young girl, though having never seen him, she was filled


with the most enthusiastic admiration of Goethe, then advanced in years. This led to the “ Correspondence,” which, after his death, was published in aid of funds for the erection of a monument to his memory.






[Translated from the German, by Miss E. P. Peabody.]

LETTER FROM GÜNDERODE TO BETTINE. I HAVE had many thoughts of thee, dear Bettine. Some nights ago, I dreamed thou wast dead; I wept bitterly at it, and

I the dream left, for many days, a mournful echo in my soul. When I came home at evening, I found thy letter; I felt both joy and surprise to find such a correspondence between my dream and thy thoughts. * * If you come not soon, write of your life to her who loves you.

* Many new insights are brought me by thy opinions, and by thy divinations, in which I confide; and since thou art so loving as to name thyself my scholar, I may sometimes marvel to see over what a bird I have been brooding. *

Yet always do one thing at a time; do not begin so many, all confusedly. In thy chamber, it looked like a shore, where a fleet lies wrecked. Schlosser wanted two great folios, that he lent you three months ago, from the city library, and which you have never read. Homer lay open on the ground; and thy canary-bird had not spared it. Thy fairly designed map of Odysseus lay near, as well as the shell-box with all the Sepia saucers and shells of colors; they have made a brown spot on thy pretty straw carpet, but I have tried to put all once more into order. Thy flageolet, which thou couldst not find to take with thee


where I found it! In the orange-tree box on the balcony !-- it was buried in the earth, up to the mouth-piece; probably thou hast desired, on thy return, to find a tree of flageolets sprouting up. Liesbet has bountifully watered the tree, and the instrument has been all drenched. I have laid it in a cool place, that it may dry gradually, and not burst; but what to do with thy music, that lay near by, I cannot tell ;- I put it in the

I sun, but before human eyes canst thou never show it again. The blue ribbon of thy guitar has been fluttering out of the window, to the great delight of the school children opposite, ever since thy departure. I chid Liesbet a little, for not having shut the window; she excused herself, because it was hid by the green


silk curtain, -yet, whenever the door is open, there is a draught. T'he sedge upon the glass is still green. I have given it fresh water. In thy box, where are sowed oats, and I know not what else, all has grown up together; I think there are many weeds, but, as I cannot be sure, I have not ventured to pull anything up. Of books, I have found on the floor, Ossian, Sacontala, the Frankfort Chronicle, the second volume of Hemsterhuis.

* Siegwart, a romance of the olden day, I found on the harpsichord, with the inkstand lying on it; luckily, there was little ink, yet wilt thou find thy moonlight composition, over which it has flowed, not easy to decipher. I heard something rattle in a little box, in the window-sill, and had the curiosity to open it; then flew out two butterflies, which thou hadst put in as chrysalises. Liesbet and I chased them into the balcony, where they satisfied their first hunger in the bean-blossoms. From under the bed, Liesbet swept out Charles the Twelfth, the Bible, and also a glove, which belongs not to the hand of a lady, in which was a French poem; this glove seems to have lain under thy pillow; I did not know thou hadst ever busied thyself with writing French poems in the old style. *

I have, with true pleasure, described to thee thy chamber, for it, like an optic mirror, expresses thy apart manner of being, and gives the range of thy whole character. If thou findest Muse, write soon again.




[Translated from the German, by Bettine.]

GOETHE'S MOTHER TO BETTINE. I CANNOT suffer thee to write me the nights through, and not sleep. This makes thee melancholy and sentimental; would I have answered, till my letter came the wind has shifted. My son has said, “What vexes one, that must one labor off;" and when he had a grief, he made a poem of it. I have already advised thee to write down the story of Günderode, and do send it to Weimar. My son would like to have it; he will preserve it; then it will trouble thee no more.

7 Man is buried in consecrated earth; even thus should we

« PreviousContinue »