Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
Poems of Fancy: II. Fairies: Elves: Sprites
The Fisher
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
From the German by Charles Timothy Brooks

THE WATERS purled, the waters swelled,—
  A fisher sat near by,
And earnestly his line beheld
  With tranquil heart and eye;
And while he sits and watches there,        5
  He sees the waves divide,
And, lo! a maid, with glistening hair,
  Springs from the troubled tide.
She sang to him, she spake to him,—
  “Why lur’st thou from below,        10
In cruel mood, my tender brood,
  To die in day’s fierce glow?
Ah! didst thou know how sweetly there
  The little fishes dwell,
Thou wouldst come down their lot to share,        15
  And be forever well.
“Bathes not the smiling sun at night—
  The moon too—in the waves?
Comes he not forth more fresh and bright
  From ocean’s cooling caves?        20
Canst thou unmoved that deep world see,
  That heaven of tranquil blue,
Where thine own face is beckoning thee
  Down to the eternal dew?”
The waters purled, the waters swelled,—        25
  They kissed his naked feet;
His heart a nameless transport held,
  As if his love did greet.
She spake to him, she sang to him;
  Then all with him was o’er,—        30
Half drew she him, half sank he in,—
  He sank to rise no more.

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