Open main menu

The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Youth and the Mill-Stream

THE YOUTH AND THE MILL-STREAM.

[This sweet ballad, and the one entitled "The Maid of the Mill's Repentance," were written on the occasion of a visit paid by Goethe to Switzerland. "The Maid of the Mill's Treachery," to which the latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following year.]

YOUTH.

Pretty brooklet, gaily glancing
In the morning sun.
Why so joyous in thy dancing?
Whither dost thou run?
What is't lures thee to the vale?
Tell me, if thou hast a tale.

BROOK.

Youth! I was a brooklet lately,
Wandering at my will;
Then I might have moved sedately,
Now, to yonder mill,
Must I hurry, swift and strong,
Therefore do I race along.

YOUTH.

Brooklet, happy in thy duty,
Nathless thou art free;
Kuowest not the power of beauty
That enchaineth me!
Looks the miller's comely daughter
Ever kindly on thy water?

BROOK.

Early comes she every morning,
From some blissful dream;
And, so sweet in her adorning,
Bends above my stream.
Then her bosom, white as snow.
Makes my chilly waters glow.

YOUTH.

If her beauty brings such gladness,
Brooklet, unto thee,
Marvel not if I to madness
Should enflamèd be.
Oh, that I could hope to move her!
Once to see her is to love her.

BROOK.

Then careering—ah, so proudly!
Rush I o'er the wheel,
And the merry mill speaks loudly
All the joy I feel.
Show me but the miller's daughter,
And more swiftly flows my water.

YOUTH.

Nay, but, brooklet, tell me truly,
Feelest thou no pain,
When she smiles, and bids thee duly
Go, nor turn again?
Hath that simple smile no cunning.
Brook, to stay thee in thy running?

BROOK.

Hard it is to lose her shadow,
Hard to pass away;
Slowly, sadly, down the meadow,
Uninspired I stray.
Oh, if I might have my will,
Back to her I'd hasten still!

YOUTH.

Brook! my love thou comprehendest;
Fare thee well awhile;
One day, when thou hither wendest,
May'st thou see me smile.
Go, and in thy gentlest fashion,
Tell that maiden all my passion!