The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Effect at a Distance


The Queen she stands in her castle's proud hall,
Where all brightly the tapers flame;
Now hie thee, sir page" (he came at her call),
"And fetch me my purse for the game;
It lies close at hand
On a marble stand."
To the palace end quickly away
Sped the page without further delay.

By chance, near the Queen her sherbet did sip
A lady, the fairest of all;
In shivers the cup fell dashed from her lip,—
Ah me, what a terrible fall!
Such carelessness! drest
In her gala vest!
Sped the lady without more delay
To the palace end quickly away.

The page as back on his errand he flew,
In trouble the fair lady met;
Both page and lady, though none of them knew,
Their hearts on each other had set.
O joy and delight!
O fortunate plight!
How they fell upon each other's breast!
How they kissed and embraced and caressed;

Now severed at last and parted are they!
To her room the fair lady ran,
Back to the Queen sped the page on his way,
Past many a dagger and fan.
His vest by the Queen
All spotted was seen;
From her eyes there was nothing to hide,
With the famed Queen of Sheba she vied.

The palace duenna she called aside:
"You said in our late wordy war,—
And arguments stout and stiff you applied,—
That spirit acts not from afar;
In presence alone
Its traces are shown.
But nothing can work from afar,—
No, not even a heavenlv star.

"Now look! But just now where standing we are,
Was scattered a sweet beverage,
And at the same instant, though distant and far,
It spotted the vest of the page.—
Go, get newly clad,
My heart is made glad;
My argument thus for upholding
I'll pay, and so save you a scolding."