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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Explanation of an Antique Gem


EXPLANATION OF AN ANTIQUE GEM.

A young fig-tree its form lifts high
Within a beauteous garden;
And see, a goat is sitting by,
As if he were its warden.

But, oh, Quirites, how one errs!
The tree is guarded badly;
For round the other side there whirrs
And hums a beetle madly.

The hero with his well-mailed coat
Nibbles the branches tall so;
A mighty longing feels the goat
Gently to cllmb up also.

And so, my friends, ere long ye see
The tree all leafless standing;
It looks a type of misery,
Help of the gods demanding.

Then listen, ye ingenuous youth,
Who hold wise saws respected:
From he-goat and from beetle's tooth
A tree should be protected!