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Poems of Goethe

THE WALKING BELL

A CHILD refused to go betimes

To church like other people;
He roam'd abroad, when rang the chimes

On Sundays from the steeple.

His mother said: "Loud rings the bell,

Its voice ne'er think of scorning;
Unless thou wilt behave thee well,

'Twill fetch thee without warning."

The child then thought: "High over head

The bell is safe suspended--"
So to the fields he straightway sped

As if 'twas school-time ended.

The bell now ceas'd as bell to ring,

Roused by the mother's twaddle;
But soon ensued a dreadful thing!--

The bell begins to waddle.

It waddles fast, though strange it seem;

The child, with trembling wonder,
Runs off, and flies, as in a dream;

The bell would draw him under.

He finds the proper time at last,

And straightway nimbly rushes
To church, to chapel, hastening fast

Through pastures, plains, and bushes.

Each Sunday and each feast as well,

His late disaster heeds he;
The moment that he bears the bell,

No other summons needs he.

                                1813.