The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/Idyll
A village Chorus is supposed to be assembled, and about to commence its festive procession.
[Written for the birthday of the Duchess Louisa of Weimar.]
The festal day hail ye
With garlands of pleasure,
And dances' soft measure,
With rapture commingled
And sweet choral song.
Oh, how I yearn from out the crowd to flee!
What joy a secret glade would give to me!
Amid the throng, the turmoil here,
Confined the plain, the breezes e'en appear.
Now order it truly,
That ev'ry one duly
May roam and may wander,
Now here and now yonder,
The meadows along.
[The Chorus retreats gradually, and the song becomes fainter and fainter, till it dies away in the distance.]
In vain ye call, in vain would lure me on;
True my heart speaks, but with itself alone.
And if I may view
A blessing-fraught land.
The heaven's clear blue,
And the plain's verdant hue,
Alone I'll rejoice,
Undisturbed by man's voice.
And there I'll pay homage
To womanly merit.
Observe it in spirit.
In spirit pay homage;
To echo alone
Shall my secret be known.
[Faintly mingling with Damon's song in the distance.]
Shall my secret—be known.
My friend, why meet I here with thee?
Thou hastenest not to join the festal throng?
No longer stay, but come with me,
And mingle in the dance and song.
Thou'rt welcome, friend! but suffer me to roam
Where these old beeches hide me from man's view;
Love seeks in solitude a home,
And homage may retreat there, too.
Thou seekest here a spurious fame,
And hast a mind to-day to grieve me.
Love as thy portion thou may'st claim.
But homage thou must share with all, believe me!
When their voices thousands raise,
And the dawn of morning praise,
On before us.
Heart and ear in pleasure vie;
And when thousands join in chorus,
With feelings brightly glowing,
And the wishes overflowing,
Forcibly they'll bear thee high.
[The Chorus gradually approaches from the distance.]
Distant strains are hither wending,
And I'm gladdened by the throng;
Yes, they're coming,—yes, descending
To the valley from the height.
Let us haste, our footsteps blending
With the rhythm of the song!
Yes, they come; their course they're bending
Toward the wood's green sward so bright.
[Gradually becoming louder.]
Yes, we hither come, attending
With the harmony of song,
As the hours their race are ending
On this day of blest delight.
Let none reveal
The thoughts we feel,
The aims we own!
Let joy alone
Disclose the story!
She'll prove it right
And her delight
Includes the glory,
Includes the bliss
Of days like this!