The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Eagle and the Dove
THE EAGLE AND THE DOVE.
In search of prey once raised his pinions
A huntsman's arrow came, and reft
His right wing of all motive power.
Headlong he fell into a myrtle grove,
For three long days on anguish fed,
In torment writhed
Throughout three long, three weary nights;
And then was cured,
Thanks to all-healing Nature's
Soft, omnipresent balm.
He crept away from out the copse,
And stretched his wing—alas!
Lost is all power of flight—
He scarce can lift himself
From off the ground
To catch some mean, unworthy prey,
And rests, deep-sorrowing,
On the low rock beside the stream.
Up to the oak he looks,
Looks up to heaven,
While in his noble eye there gleams a tear.
Then, rustling through the myrtle boughs, behold,
There comes a wanton pair of doves,
Who settle down, and, nodding, strut
O'er the gold sands beside the stream,
And gradually approach;
Their red-tinged eyes, so full of love,
Soon see the inward-sorrowing one.
The male, inquisitively social, leaps
On the next bush, and looks
Upon him kindly and complacently.
"Thou sorrowest," murmurs he:
"Be of good cheer, my friend!
All that is needed for calm happiness
Hast thou not here!
Hast thou not pleasure in the golden bough
That shields thee from the day's fierce glow?
Canst thou not raise thy breast to catch,
On the soft moss beside the brook,
The sun's last rays at even?
Here thou mayest wander through the flowers' fresh dew.
Pluck from the overflow
The forest-trees provide,
The choicest food,—mayest quench
Thy light thirst at the silvery spring.
O friend, true happiness
Lies in contentedness,
And that contentedness
Finds everywhere enough."
"O wise one!" said the eagle, while he sank
In deep and ever deepening thought—
"O Wisdom! like a dove thou speakest!"