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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Godlike
By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
 
Translation of John Sullivan Dwight

NOBLE be Man,
Helpful and good!
For that alone
Doth distinguish him
From all the beings        5
Which we know.
 
Hail to the Unknown, the
Higher Beings
Felt within us!
His pattern teach us        10
Faith in them!
 
For unfeeling
Is Nature:
Still shineth the sun
Over good and evil;        15
And to the sinner
Smile, as to the best,
The moon and the stars.
 
Wind and waters,
Thunder and hailstones,        20
Rustle on their way,
Smiting down as
They dash along,
One for another.
 
Just so does Fate        25
Grope round in the crowd,
Seize now the innocent,
Curly-haired boy,
Now on the old, bald
Crown of the villain.        30
 
By great adamantine
Laws everlasting,
Here we must all our
Round of existence
Faithfully finish.        35
 
There can none but Man
Perform the Impossible.
He understandeth,
Chooseth, and judgeth;
He can impart to the        40
Moment duration.
 
He alone may
The Good reward,
The Guilty punish,
Mend and deliver;        45
All the wayward, anomalous
Bind in the Useful.
 
And the Immortals—
Them we reverence,
As if they were men, and        50
Did, on a grand scale,
What the best man in little
Does, or fain would do.
 
Let noble Man
Be helpful and good!        55
Ever creating
The Right and the Useful—
Type of those loftier
Beings of whom the heart whispers!
 
 
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