Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832 / Frankfurt am Main)

Playing At Priests - Poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

WITHIN a town where parity
According to old form we see,--
That is to say, where Catholic
And Protestant no quarrels pick,
And where, as in his father's day,
Each worships God in his own way,
We Luth'ran children used to dwell,
By songs and sermons taught as well.
The Catholic clingclang in truth
Sounded more pleasing to our youth,
For all that we encounter'd there,
To us seem'd varied, joyous, fair.
As children, monkeys, and mankind
To ape each other are inclin'd,
We soon, the time to while away,
A game at priests resolved to play.
Their aprons all our sisters lent
For copes, which gave us great content;
And handkerchiefs, embroider'd o'er,
Instead of stoles we also wore;
Gold paper, whereon beasts were traced,
The bishop's brow as mitre graced.

Through house and garden thus in state
We strutted early, strutted late,
Repeating with all proper unction,
Incessantly each holy function.
The best was wanting to the game;

We knew that a sonorous ring

Was here a most important thing;
But Fortune to our rescue came,
For on the ground a halter lay;

We were delighted, and at once

Made it a bellrope for the nonce,
And kept it moving all the day;

In turns each sister and each brother

Acted as sexton to another;
All help'd to swell the joyous throng;

The whole proceeded swimmingly,

And since no actual bell had we,
We all in chorus sang, Ding dong!


*

Our guileless child's-sport long was hush'd

In memory's tomb, like some old lay;
And yet across my mind it rush'd

With pristine force the other day.
The New-Poetic Catholics
In ev'ry point its aptness fix!


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Read poems about / on: children, sister, brother, memory, father, house, truth, child, god



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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