The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Wedding Song


The tale of the Count our glad song shall record
Who had in this castle his dwelling,
Where now are ye feasting the new-married lord,
His grandson of whom we are telling.
The Count as Crusader had blazoned his fame,
Through many a triumph exalted his name,
And when on his steed to his dwelling he came,
His castle still reared its proud head,
But servants and wealth had all fled.

'Tis true that thou, Count, hast returned to thy home,
But matters are faring there ill.
The winds through the chambers at liberty roam,
And blow through the windows at will.
What's best to be done in a cold autumn night?
Full many I've passed in more piteous plight;
The morn ever settles the matter aright.
Then quick, while the moon shines so clear,
To bed on straw, without fear.

And whilst in a soft pleasing slumber he lay,
A motion he feels 'neath his bed.
The rat, an he likes it, may rattle away!
Ay, had he but crumbs there outspread!
But lo! there appears a diminutive wight,
A dwarf 'tis, yet graceful, and bearing a light,
With orator-gestures that notice invite,
At the feet of the Count on the floor
Who sleeps not, though weary full sore.

"We've long been accustomed to hold here our feast
Since thou from thy castle first went;
And as we believed thou wert far in the East,
To revel e'en now we were bent.
And if thou'lt allow it, and seek not to chide,
We dwarfs will all banquet with pleasure and pride,
To honour the wealthy, the beautiful bride"—
Says the Count with a smile, half asleep:—
"Ye're welcome your quarters to keep!"

Three knights then advance, riding all in a group,
Who under the bed were concealed;
And then is a singing and noise-making troop
Of strange little figures revealed;
And wagon on wagon with all kinds of things—
The clatter they cause through the ear loudly ring—s
The like ne'er was seen save in castles of kings;
At length, in a chariot of gold.
The bride and the guest, too, behold!

Then all at full gallop make haste to advance,
Each chooses his place in the hall;
With whirling and waltzing, and light joyous dance,
They begin with their sweethearts the ball.
The fife and the fiddle all merrily sound,
They twine, and they glide, and with nimbleness bound,
They whisper, and chatter, and clatter around;
The Count on the scene casts his eye.
And seems in a fever to lie.

They hustle, and bustle, and rattle away
On table, on bench, and on stool;
Then all who had joined in the festival gay
With their partners attempt to grow cool.
The hams and the sausages nimbly they bear,
And meat, fish, and poultry in plenty are there,
Surrounded with wine of the vintage most rare;
And when they have revelled full long,
They vanish at last with a song.


And if we're to sing all that further occurred,
Pray cease ye to bluster and prate;
For what he so gladly in small saw and heard,
He enjoyed and he practised in great.
For trumpets, and singing, and shouts without end
On the bridal-train, chariots and horsemen attend,
They come and appear, and they bow and they bend,
In merry and countless array.
Thus was it, thus is it to-day.