Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
The Fisher
By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
THE WATER roared, the water rose,
The fisher on the sand
Looked at his angle in repose;
Right cool were heart and hand.
And as he sits and harks at ease,        5
The waters rise and part:
Out of the whirling waves he sees
A dewy woman dart.
She sang to him, she said to him:
“Why lurest thou my brood        10
To death with human ruse and whim
And scorching sunbeams rude?
Ah, if thou knewest how below
The little fishes feel,
Thou straight into the deep wouldst go,        15
All weariness to heal.
“Does not the sun refresh his face,
The moon hers in the sea?
Do they not shine with double grace,
When breathing billows free?        20
Does not the lucid heavenly deep
Entice thee, all this blue?
Dost thou not long thy face to steep
Into eternal dew?”
The water roared, the water rose,        25
His foot was wet and bare;
And in his heart a longing grows,
As if his love were there.
She sang to him and said her say,
And then it all was o’er:        30
She pulled half-way, he sank half-way,
And he was seen no more.

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