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"I have the second sight, Goethe!"—Letters of a Child.


BETTINE, friend of Goethe,
Hadst thou the second sight –
Upturning worship and delight
With such a loving duty
[5] To his grand face, as women will,
The childhood ’neath thine eyelids still?


Before his shrine to doom thee
Using the same child’s smile
That heaven 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 have to 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.


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
[35] Its wet cold wing no sun can dry,
Still in thy bosom secretly?


Our Goethe’s friend, Bettine,
I have the second sight!
The stone upon his grave is white,
[40] The funeral stone between ye;
And in thy mirror thou hast viewed
Some change as hardly understood.


Where’s childhood? where is Goethe?
The tears are in thine eyes.
[45] Nay, thou shalt yet reorganise
Thy maidenhood of beauty
In his own glory, which is smooth
Of wrinkles and sublime in youth.


The poet’s arms have wound thee,
[50] He breathes upon thy brow,
He lift s thee upward in the glow
Of his great genius round thee, –
The childlike poet undefiled
Preserving evermore The Child.

Text Poems (1856), vol. 2, pp. 199-201.