The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/To Charlotte
Midst the noise of merriment and glee,
'Midst full many a sorrow, many a care,
Charlotte, I remember, we remember thee,
How at evening's hour so fair,
Thou a kindly hand didst reach us,
When thou, in some happy place
Where more fair is Nature's face,
Many a lightly-hidden trace
Of a spirit loved didst teach us.
Well 'tis that thy worth I rightly knew,—
That I, in the hour when first we met,
While the first impression filled me yet,
Called thee then a girl both good and true.
Reared in silence, calmly, knowing nought,
On the world we suddenly are thrown;
Hundred thousand billows round us sport;
All things charm us—many please alone,
Many grieve us, and as hour on hour is stealing,
To and fro our restless natures sway;
First we feel, and then we find each feeling
By the changeful world-stream borne away.
Well I know, we oft within us find
Many a hope and many a smart.
Charlotte, who can know our mind?
Charlotte, who can know our heart?
Ah! 'twould fain be understood, 'twould fain o'erflow
In some creature's fellow-feelings blest,
And, with trust, in twofold measure know
All the grief and joy in Nature's breast.
Then thine eye is oft around thee cast,
But in vain, for all seems closed for ever;
Thus the fairest part of life is madly passed
Free from storm, but resting never;
To thy sorrow thou'rt to-day repelled
By what yesterday obeyed thee.
Can that world by thee be worthy held
Which so oft betrayed thee?
Which 'mid all thy pleasures and thy pains,
Lived in selfish, unconcerned repose?
See, the soul its secret cells regains,
And the heart—makes haste to close.
Thus found I thee, and gladly went to meet thee;
"She's worthy of all love!" I cried,
And prayed that Heaven with purest bliss might greet thee,
Which in thy friend it richly hath supplied.