The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Vanitas, Vanitatum Vanitas

"Vanitas, Vanitatum Vanitas" redirects here. See also Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas.


On nothing have I set my heart,
So in the world I bear my part,
And whoso will be friend of mine
Must join with me, and not decline
To clink a glass of wine.

I set my heart on goods and wealth,
I lost thereby my nerves and health,
The coins they rolled off far and wide.
And what with one hand I did hide.
In t'other would not bide.

On woman next I set my heart,
From them I suffered many a smart,
Ah, ah!
The false one sought another lord.
With the true one I was greatly bored,
The best could not afford.

To travel next I did apply,
From house and kindred off did fly,
Ah, ah!
I'm pleased with nothing I have seen,—
The food was coarse, the bed not clean,
None knew what I did mean.

On honours next my heart I set,
But lo! my neighbour more did get,
Ah, ah!
And when I had advanced my name
The folks did look askance, and blame
As though I hurt their fame.

I set my heart on fighting then,
And many a battle we did gain,
Ah, ah!
We marched the foeman's country through,
Much profit there did not accrue,—
My leg's loss there I rue.

Now I have set my heart on nought.
The whole world to my feet is brought.
Ah, ah!
My song and feast to end I'm fain,
So every one your glasses drain,—
Let not a drop remain!