by: Johann Wolfgang von
- HE water
rushed, the water swelled,
- A fisherman sat by,
- And gazed upon his dancing float
- With tranquil-dreaming eye.
- And as he sits, and as he looks,
- The gurgling waves arise;
- A maid, all bright with water drops,
- Stands straight before his eyes.
- She sang to him, she spake to him:
- "My fish why dost thou snare,
- With human wit and human guile,
- Into the killing air?
- Couldst see how happy fishes live
- Under the stream so clear,
- Thyself would plunge into the stream,
- And live for ever there.
- "Bathe not the lovely sun and moon
- Within the cool, deep sea,
- And with wave-breathing faces rise
- In twofold witchery?
- Lure not the misty heaven-deeps,
- So beautiful and blue?
- Lures not thine image, mirrored in
- The Fresh eternal dew?
- The water rushed, the water swelled,
- It clasped his feet, I wis'
- A thrill went through his yearning heart,
- As when two lovers kiss!
- She spake to him, she sang to him:
- Resistless was her strain;
- Half drew him in, half lured him in;
- He ne'er was seen again.
MORE POEMS BY GOETHE
John Storer Cobb's English translation
of 'The Fisherman' was first published in Goethe: Poetical
Works, vol. 1. Boston: Francis A Niccolls & Company,