The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Lovely Night

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From the cot, where softly sleeping
Lies my bosom's love, I go,
And with noiseless footstep creeping,
Thread the dusty wood, when lo!
Bursts the moon through glade and greenwood,
Soft the herald zephyrs play,
And the waving birches sprinkle
Sweetest incense on my way.

How I revel in the coolness
Of this beauteous summer night
Stilly dreaming here the fulness
Of the panting soul's delight!
Words can paint not what my bliss is,
Yet, kind heaven, I'd yield to thee
Nights a thousand, fair as this is,
Would my love give one to me!


Thou oft in dreams hast seen us stand
Before the altar hand in hand,
Thyself the bride, the bridegroom I.
Oft on thy lips, when none were watching,
I've hung, unnumbered kisses snatching,
In hours of waking ecstasy.

The purest rapture that we cherished,
The bliss of hours so golden, perished
Even with the hour that saw it rise.
What reck that mine have been such blisses?
Fleeting as dreams are fondest kisses,
And like a kiss all pleasure dies.


Half vexed, half pleased, thy love will feel,
Shouldst thou her knot or ribbon steal;
To thee they're much—I won't conceal;
Such self-deceit may pardoned be;
A veil, a kerchief, garter, rings,
In truth are no more trifling things,
But still they're not enough for me.

She who is dearest to my heart,
Gave me, with well dissembled smart,
Of her own life a living part,
No charm in aught beside I trace;