Goethe's Treasure Digger

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

All my weary days I pass'd
Sick at heart and poor in purse.
Poverty's the greatest curse,
Riches are the highest good!
And to end my woes at last,
Treasure-seeking forth I sped.
“Thou shalt have my soul instead!”
Thus I wrote, and with my blood.

Ring round ring I forthwith drew,
Wondrous flames collected there,
Herbs and bones in order fair,
Till the charm had work'd aright.
Then, to learned precepts true,
Dug to find some treasure old,
In the place my art foretold
Black and stormy was the night.

Coming o'er the distant plain,
With the glimmer of a star,
Soon I saw a light afar,
As the hour of midnight knell'd.
Preparation was in vain.
Sudden all was lighted up
With the lustre of a cup
That a beauteous boy upheld.

Sweetly seem'd his eyes to laugh
Neath his flow'ry chaplet's load;
With the drink that brightly glow'd,
He the circle enter'd in.
And he kindly bade me quaff;
Then methought “This child can ne'er,
With his gift so bright and fair,
To the arch-fiend be akin."

"Pure life's courage drink!" cried he
“This advice to prize then learn,
Never to this place return
Trusting in thy spells absurd.
Dig no longer fruitlessly!
Guests by night, and toil by day!
Weeks laborious, feast-days gay!
Be thy future magic-word!"

Translation borrowed from www.communitas-saturni.de

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