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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Morning Lament


Oh, thou cruel, deadly-lovely maiden.
Tell me what great sin have I committed,
That thou keepest me to the rack thus fastened,
That thou hast thy solemn promise broken?

'Twas but yestere'en that thou with fondness
Pressed my hand, and these sweet accents murmured:
"Yes, I'll come, I'll come when morn approacheth,
Come, my friend, full surely to thy chamber."
On the latch I left my doors, unfastened,
Having first with care tried all the hinges,
And rejoiced right well to find they creaked not.

What a night of expectation passed I!
For I watched, and every chime I numbered;
If perchance I slept a few short moments,
Still my heart remained awake for ever,
And awoke me from my gentle slumbers.

Yes, then blessed I night's o'erhanging darkness,
That so calmly covered all things round me;
I enjoyed the universal silence,
While I listened ever in the silence,
If perchance the slightest sounds were stirring.

"Had she only thoughts, my thoughts resembling,
Had she only feelings, like my feelings,
She would not await the dawn of morning,
But, ere this, would surely have been with me."

Skipped a kitten on the floor above me,
Scratched a mouse a panel in the corner,
Was there in the house the slightest motion,
Ever hoped I that I heard thy footstep,
Ever thought I that I heard thee coming.

And so lay I long, and ever longer,
And already was the daylight dawning,
And both here and there were signs of movement.

"Is it yon door? Were it my door only!"
In my bed I leaned upon my elbow,
Looking toward the door, now half-apparent,
If perchance it might not be in motion.
Both the wings upon the latch continued,
On the quiet hinges calmly hanging.

And the day grew bright and brighter ever;
And I heard my neighbour's door unbolted,
As he went to earn his daily wages,
And ere long I heard the wagons rumbling,
And the city gates were also opened,
While the market-place, in every corner,
Teemed with life and bustle and confusion.

In the house was going now and coming
Up and down the stairs, and doors were creaking
Backwards now, now forwards,—footsteps clattered.
Yet, as though it were a thing all-living,
From my cherished hope I could not tear me.

When at length the sun, in hated splendour,
Fell upon my walls, upon my windows,
Up I sprang, and hastened to the garden,
There to blend my breath, so hot and yearning,
With the cool refreshing morning breezes,
And, it might be, even there to meet thee:
But I cannot find thee in the arbour,
Or the avenue of lofty lindens.