The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Wreaths


Our German Klopstock, if he had his will,
Would bar us from the skirts of Pindus old;
No more the classic laurel should be prized,
But the rough leaflets of our native oak
Alone should glisten in the poet's hair;
Yet did himself, with spirit unreclaimed
From first allegiance to those early gods,
Lead up to Golgotha's most awful height
With more than epic pomp the new Crusade,
But let him range the bright angelic host
On either hill—no matter. By his grave
All gentle hearts should bow them down and weep
For where a hero and a saint have died,
Or where a poet sung prophetical,
Dying as greatly as they greatly lived,
To give memorial to all after-times,
Of lofty worth and courage undismayed;
There, in mute reverence, all devoutly kneel,
In homage of the thorn and laurel wreath,
That were at once their glory and their pang!