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"I have the second sight, Goëthe!"
Her Letters.

OUR Goëthe's friend, Bettine,
Hadst thou the second sight—
Upturning worship and delight,
So lovingly and sheenly,
[5] Toward his face, as women will;
The childhood 'neath thine eyelids still?

Before his shrine to doom thee,
Using the same child's smile,
That heav'n and earth, beheld erewhile
[10] For the first time, won from thee;
Ere star and flower grew dim and dead,
Save at his feet, and o'er his head!

Digging thine heart and throwing
Away its childhood's gold;
[15] That so its woman-depth might hold
His spirit's overflowing!
For surging souls no worlds can bound,
Their channel in the heart have found.

O child, to change appointed,
[20] Thou hadst not second sight!
What eyes the future view aright,
Unless by tears anointed?—
Yea! only tears themselves can show
The burning ones that yet shall flow.

[25]O woman, deeply loving,
Thou hadst not second sight!
The star is very high and bright,
And none can see it moving.
Love looks around, below, above,
[30] Yet all his prophecy is—love.

O changing child and woman,
Thou hadst not second sight!
Or bending down thy forehead white,
The human to the human,
[35] The idol's shadow would have made
Its light to vanish like a shade.

Thy spirit was foreknowing
Change to the patriot dead;*
The changing of their battle bed
[40]For meadows ever blowing;—
But ne'er a vision didst thou see
Of death and change to him and thee!

Our Goëthe's friend, Bettine!
What chanceth with thee now?
[45] The funeral stone is on his brow,
The funeral earth between ye!
And, haply, he who left the sun,

For thee hath left a funeral one.

I never shall behold thee—
[50] Thou hast the stranger's face!
Thy smile may keep its ancient place,
And living loves enfold thee;
Yet dost thou change, as others must,
Whose souls have been baptized in dust.

[55]I ween, thy smile is graver—
Paler thy cheek, I ween:
For thou the mystic sight hast seen,
Which maketh quail the braver—
The crowned and loved go naked down,
[60] Without the love, without the crown!

The bird thy childhood's playing
Sent onward o'er the sea,
Thy dove of hope, came back to thee
Without a leaf. Art laying
[65] Its wet cold wing, no sun can dry,
Still in thy bosom, secretly?—

Or hast thou found another;
With plumes thy God hath given,
To leave the wave and meet in heaven
[70](As brother meeteth brother)
Th' eternal Dove who downward flings
His glory on its mounting wings?

Such glory rest upon thee,
Our Goëthe's changëd friend!
[75] For earth's, that cometh to an end,
Hath faded and foregone thee—
And thou, the worshipper, hast spread
Thine idol's ashes o'er thine head!

Text: The Seraphim, and Other Poems (1838), pp. 265-70. 

*The patriot Tyrolese. [EBB's note]