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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Coptic Song

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COPTIC SONG.

Howe'er they may wrangle, your pundits and sages,
And love of contention infects all the breed,
All the philosophers, search through all ages,
Join with one voice in the following creed:
Fools from their folly 'tis hopeless to stay!
Mules will be mules, by the law of their mulishness;
Then be advised, and leave fools to their foolishness,
What from an ass can you get but a bray?

When Merlin I questioned, the old necromancer,
As halo'd with light in his coffin he lay,
I got from the wizard a similar answer,
And thus ran the burden of what he did say:
Fools from their folly 'tis hopeless to stay!
Mules will be mules, by the law of their mulishness;
Then be advised, and leave fools to their foolishness,
What from an ass can be got but a bray?

And up on the wind-swept peaks of Armenia,
And down in the depths, far hid from the day,
Of the temples of Egypt and far Abyssinia
This, and but this, was the gospel alway:
Fools from their folly 'tis hopeless to stay!
Mules will be mules, by the law of their mulishness;
Then be advised, and leave fools to their foolishness,
What from an ass can be got but a bray?