Meissner was also here; he caught me unawares,
Scribbling to my old mother. "What!" he cried,
"Is the old lady of the Dammthor still alive?
And do you write her still?" "Each month or so."
"And is she not unhappy then, to find
How wretched you must be?" "How can she know?
You see," I laughed, "she thinks I am as well
As when she saw me last. She is too blind
To read the papers—some one else must tell
What's in my letters, merely signed by me.
Thus she is happy. For the rest—
That any son should be sick as I,
No mother could believe."
Ja, so it goes.
Come here, my lotus-flower. It is best
I drop the mask to-day; the half-cracked shield
Of mockery calls for younger hands to wield.
Laugh—or I'll hug it closer to my breast.
So . . . I can be as mawkish as I choose
And I give my thoughts an airing, let them loose
For one last rambling stroll before—Now look!
Why tears? You heard me say 'the end.'
Before . . . before I clap them in a book
And so get rid of them once and for all.
This is their holiday—we'll let them run—
Some have escaped already. There goes one . . .
What, I have often mused, did Goethe mean?
So many years ago at Weimar, Goethe said