by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

      HERE stands an ancient castle
      On yonder mountain height,
      Where, fenced with door and portal,
      Once tarried steed and knight.
      But gone are door and portal,
      And all is hushed and still;
      O'er ruined wall and rafter
      I clamber as I will.
      A cellar with many a vintage
      Once lay in yonder nook;
      Where now are the cellarer's flagons
      And where is his jovial look?
      No more he sets the beakers
      For the guests at the wassail feast;
      Nor fills a flask from the oldest cask
      For the duties of the priest.
      No more he gives on the staircase
      The stoup to the thirsty squires,
      And a hurried thanks for the hurried gift
      Receives, nor more requires.
      For burned are roof and rafter,
      And they hang begrimed and black;
      And stair, and hall, and chapel,
      Are turned to dust and wrack.
      Yet, as with song and cittern,
      One day when the sun was bright,
      I saw my love ascending
      The slopes of yon rocky height;
      From the hush and the desolation
      Sweet fancies did unfold,
      And it seemed as they had come back again,
      The jovial days of old.
      As if the stateliest chambers
      For noble guests were spread,
      And out from the prime of that glorious time
      A youth a maiden led.
      And, standing in the chapel,
      The good old priest did say,
      "Will ye wed with one another?"
      And we smiled and answered "Yea!"
      We sung, and our hearts they bounded
      To the thrilling lays we sung,
      And every note was doubled
      By the echo's catching tongue.
      And when, as eve descended,
      The hush grew deep and still,
      And the setting sun looked upward
      On that great castled hill;
      Then far and wide, like lord and bride,
      In the radiant light we shone --
      It sank; and again the ruins
      Stood desolate and alone.

John Storer Cobb's English translation of 'The Castle on the Mountain' was first published in Goethe: Poetical Works, vol. 1. Boston: Francis A Niccolls & Company, 1902.




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