Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Goethe.

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To a Golden Heart, Worn Round His Neck

Remembrancer of joys long passed away,
Relic, from which as yet I cannot part,
O, hast thou power to lengthen love's short day?
Stronger thy chain than that which bound the heart?

Lili, I fly!--yet still thy fetters press me
In distant valley, or far lonely wood,
Still with a struggling sigh of pain confess thee
The mistress of my soul in every mood.

The bird may burst the silken chain that bound him,
Flying to the green home, which fits him best;
But, ah! he bears the prisoner's badge around him,
Still by the piece about his neck distressed.
He ne'er can breathe his free wild notes again;
They're stifled by the pressure of his chain.

Translated by Margaret Fuller Ossoli.