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Poems of Goethe

RINALDO.*

[This Cantata was written for Prince Frederick of Gotha, and set to music by Winter, the Prince singing the part of Rinaldo.--See the Annalen.]

(* See Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto XVI.)

CHORUS.

To the strand! quick, mount the bark!

If no favouring zephyrs blow,

Ply the oar and nimbly row,
And with zeal your prowess mark!

O'er the sea we thus career.

RINALDO.


Oh, let me linger one short moment here!
'Tis heaven's decree, I may not hence away.
The rugged cliffs, the wood-encircled bay,
Hold me a prisoner, and my flight delay.

Ye were so fair, but now that dream is o'er;
The charms of earth, the charms of heaven are nought.
What keeps me in this spot so terror-fraught?

My only joy is fled for evermore.

Let me taste those days so sweet,

Heav'n-descended, once again!
Heart, dear heart! ay, warmly beat!

  Spirit true, recall those days

  Freeborn breath thy gentle lays

Mingled are with joy and pain.

Round the beds, so richly gleaming,

Rises up a palace fair;
All with rosy fragrance teeming,

As in dream thou saw'st it ne'er.

And this spacious garden round,

Far extend the galleries;
Roses blossom near the ground,

High in air, too, bloom the trees.

Wat'ry flakes and jets are falling.

Sweet and silv'ry strains arise;
While the turtle-dove is calling,

And the nightingale replies.

CHORUS.

Gently come! feel no alarm,

On a noble duty bent;
Vanish'd now is ev'ry charm

That by magic power was lent.
Friendly words and greetings calm
On his wounds will pour soft balm.

Fill his mind with sweet content.

RINALDO.

Hark! the turtle-dove is calling,

And the nightingale replies;
Wat'ry flakes and jets are falling,

Mingling with their melodies.

But all of them say:

Her only we mean;
But all fly away,

As soon as she's seen,--
The beauteous young maiden,

With graces so rife,

Then lily and rose

In wreaths are entwining;

In dancing combining,
Each zephyr that blows

Its brother is greeting,

All flying and meeting,
With balsam full laden,

When waken'd to life.

CHORUS.

No! no longer may we wait;
Rouse him from his vision straight!
Show the adamantine shield!

RINALDO.

Woe! what form is here reveal'd!

CHORUS.

'Twill disclose the cheat to thee.

RINALDO.

Am I doom'd myself to see
Thus degraded evermore?

CHORUS.

Courage take, and all is o'er.

RINALDO.

Be it so! I'll take fresh heart,
From the spot beloved depart,
Leave Armida once again,--
Come then! here no more remain.

CHORUS.

Yes, 'tis well! no more remain.

SEMI-CHORUS.

Away then! let's fly

O'er the zephyr-kiss'd ocean!
The soul-lighted eye

Sees armies in motion,
See proud banners wave

O'er the dust-sprinkled course.

CHORUS.

From his forefathers brave

Draws the hero new force.

RINALDO.

With sorrow laden,

Within this valley's

All-silent alleys
The fairest maiden

Again I see.

Twice can this be?
What! shall I hear it,
And not have spirit
To ease her pains?

CHORUS.

Unworthy chains?

RINALDO.

And now I've see her,

Alas! how changed!
With cold demeanour.

And looks estranged,
With ghostly tread,--
All hope is fled,
Yes, fled for ever.
The lightnings quiver,
Each palace falls;
The godlike halls,
Each joyous hour
Of spirit-power,
With love's sweet day
All fade away!

CHORUS.

Yes, fade away!

SEMI-CHORUS.

Already are heard

The prayers of the pious.

Why longer deny us?
The favouring zephyr

Forbids all delay.

CHORUS.

Away, then! away!

RINALDO.

With heart sadly stirr'd,

Your command I receive;

Ye force me to leave.
Unkind is the zephyr,--

Oh, wherefore not stay?

CHORUS.

Away, then! away!

                                1811.