Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

The Boundaries Of Humanity - Poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

WHEN the primeval
All-holy Father
Sows with a tranquil hand
From clouds, as they roll,
Bliss-spreading lightnings
Over the earth,
Then do I kiss the last
Hem of his garment,
While by a childlike awe
Fill'd is my breast.

For with immortals
Ne'er may a mortal
Measure himself.
If he soar upwards
And if he touch
With his forehead the stars,
Nowhere will rest then
His insecure feet,
And with him sport
Tempest and cloud.

Though with firm sinewy
Limbs he may stand
On the enduring
Well-grounded earth,
All he is ever
Able to do,
Is to resemble
The oak or the vine.

Wherein do gods
Differ from mortals?
In that the former
See endless billows
Heaving before them;
Us doth the billow
Lift up and swallow,
So that we perish.

Small is the ring
Enclosing our life,
And whole generations
Link themselves firmly
On to existence's
Chain never-ending.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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