The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Constancy in Change


Could this early bliss but rest
Constant for one single hour!
But e'en now the humid west
Scatters many a vernal shower.
Should the verdure give me joy?
'Tis to it I owe the shade;
Soon will storms its bloom destroy,
Soon will Autumn bid it fade.

Eagerly thy portion seize,
If thou wouldst possess the fruit!
Fast begin to ripen these,
And the rest already to shoot.
With each heavy storm of rain
Change comes o'er thy valley fair;
Once, alas! but not again
Can the same stream hold thee e'er.

And thyself, what erst at least
Firm as rocks appeared to rise,
Walls and palaces thou seest
But with ever-changing eyes.
Fled for ever now the lip
That with kisses used to glow,
And the foot, that used to skip
O'er the mountain, like the roe.

And the hand, so true and warm,
Ever raised in charity,
And the cunning-fashioned form,—
All are now changed utterly.
And what used to bear thy name
When upon yon spot it stood,
Like a rolling billow came,
Hastening on to join the flood.

Be then the beginning found
With the end in unison,
Swifter than the forms around
Are themselves now fleeting on!
Thank the merit in thy breast,
Thank the mould within thy heart,
That the Muses' favour blest
Ne'er will perish, ne'er depart.