The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Faithless Boy


There was a wooer blithe and gay,—
A son of France was he,—
Who in his arms for many a day,
As though his bride were she,
A poor young maiden had caressed,
And fondly kissed, and fondly pressed,
And then at length deserted.

When this was told the nut-brown maid,
Her senses straightway fled;
She laughed and wept, and vowed and prayed.
And presently was dead.
The hour her soul its farewell took,
The boy was sad, with terror shook,
Then sprang upon his charger.

He drove his spurs into his side,
And scoured the country round;
But wheresoever he might ride,
No rest for him was found.
For seven long days and nights he rode,
It stormed, the waters overflowed,
It blustered, lightened, thundered.

On rode he through the tempest's din,
Till he a building spied;
In search of shelter crept he in,
When he his steed had tied.
And as he groped his doubtful way,
The ground began to rock and sway, —
He fell a hundred fathoms.

When he recovered from his blow,
He saw three lights pass by;
He sought in their pursuit to go,
The lights appeared to fly.
They led his footsteps all astray,
Up, down, through many a narrow way
Through ruined desert cellars.

When lo! he stood within a hall,
A hundred guests sat there,
With hollow eyes, and grinning all;
They bade him taste the fare.
He saw his sweetheart 'midst the throng,
Wrapped up in grave-clothes white and long;
She turned, and ———[1]

  1. This ballad is introduced in Act II. of "Claudine of Villa Bella," where it is suddenly broken off, as it is here.