[THE remarkable Poem
of which this is a literal but faint
representation, was written when Goethe was only sixteen years
old. It derives additional interest from the fact of its being
the very earliest piece of his that is preserved. The few other
pieces included by Goethe under the title of Religion and Church
are polemical, and devoid of interest to the English reader.]
WHAT wondrous noise
is heard around!
Through heaven exulting voices sound,
A mighty army marches
By thousand millions follow'd, lo,
To yon dark place makes haste to go
God's Son, descending
from His throne!
He goes--the tempests round Him break,
As Judge and Hero cometh
He goes--the constellations quake,
The sun, the world quake
I see Him in His victor-car,
On fiery axles borne afar,
Who on the cross for
The triumph to yon realms He shows,--
Remote from earth, where star ne'er glows,
The triumph He for us
He cometh, Hell to extirpate,
Whom He, by dying, wellnigh
He shall pronounce her fearful fate
Hark! now the curse
is straight fulfill'd.
Hell sees the victor
come at last,
She feels that now her reign is past,
She quakes and fears
to meet His sight;
She knows His thunders' terrors dread,
In vain she seeks to hide her head,
Attempts to fly, but
vain is flight;
Vainly she hastes to 'scape pursuit
And to avoid her Judge's
The Lord's fierce wrath restrains her foot
Like brazen chains,--she
Here lies the Dragon,
He lies, and feels God's angry frown,
He feels, and grinneth
He feels Hell's speechless agonies,
A thousand times he howls and sighs:
"Oh, burning flames!
quick, swallow me!"
There lies he in the fiery waves,
By torments rack'd and
Instant annihilation craves,
And hears, those pangs
will be eternal.
Those mighty squadrons,
too, are here,
The partners of his cursed career,
Yet far less bad than
he were they.
Here lies the countless throng combined,
In black and fearful crowds entwined,
While round him fiery
He sees how they the Judge avoid,
He sees the storm upon
Yet is not at the sight o'erjoy'd,
Because his pangs e'en
The Son of Man in triumph
Down to Hell's wild and black morasses,
And there unfolds His
Hell cannot bear the bright array,
For, since her first created day.
Darkness alone e'er
She lay remote from ev'ry light
With torments fill'd
in Chaos here;
God turn'd for ever from her sight
His radiant features'
Within the realms she
calls her own,
She sees the splendour of the Son,
His dreaded glories
She sees Him clad in rolling thunder,
She sees the rocks all quake with wonder,
When God before her
stands in wrath.
She sees He comes her Judge to be,
She feels the awful
pangs inside her,
Herself to slay endeavours she,
But e'en this comfort
is denied her.
Now looks she back,
with pains untold,
Upon those happy times of old,
When those glories gave
When yet her heart revered the truth,
When her glad soul, in endless youth
And rapture dwelt, without
She calls to mind with madden'd thought
How over man her wiles
To take revenge on God she sought,
And feels the vengeance
God was made man, and
came to earth.
Then Satan cried with fearful mirth:
"E'en He my victim
now shall be!"
He sought to slay the Lord Most High,
The world's Creator now must die;
But, Satan, endless
woe to thee!
Thou thought'st to overcome Him then,
Rejoicing in His suffering;
But he in triumph comes again
To bind thee: Death!
where is thy sting?
Speak, Hell! where is
Thy power destroy'd and scatter'd see!
Know'st thou not now
the Highest's might?
See, Satan, see thy rule o'erthrown!
pangs weigh'd down,
Thou dwell'st in dark and endless night.
As though by lightning
struck thou liest,
No gleam of rapture far or wide;
In vain! no hope thou
For me alone Messiah died!
A howling rises through
A trembling fills each dark vault there,
When Christ to Hell
is seen to come.
She snarls with rage, but needs must cower
Before our mighty hero's power;
He signs--and Hell is
Before his voice the thunders break,
On high His victor-banner
E'en angels at His fury quake,
When Christ to the dread
Now speaks He, and His
voice is thunder,
He speaks, the rocks are rent in sunder,
His breath is like devouring
Thus speaks He: "Tremble, ye accurs'd!
He who from Eden hurl'd you erst,
Your kingdom's overthrow
Look up! My children once were ye,
Your arms against Me
then ye turn'd,
Ye fell, that ye might sinners be,
Ye've now the wages
that ye earn'd.
"My greatest foeman
from that day,
Ye led my dearest friends
As ye had fallen, man
To kill him evermore ye sought,
'They all shall die the death,' ye thought;
But howl! for Me I won
For them alone did I descend,
For them pray'd, suffer'd,
Ye ne'er shall gain your wicked end;
Who trusts in Me shall
"In endless chains
here lie ye now,
Nothing can save you from the slough.
Not boldness, not regret
Lie, then, and writhe in brimstone fire!
'Twas ye yourselves drew down Mine ire,
Lie and lament throughout
And also ye, whom I selected,
E'en ye forever I disown,
For ye My saving grace rejected
Ye murmur? blame yourselves
"Ye might have
lived with Me in bliss,
For I of yore had promis'd this;
Ye sinn'd, and all My
Wrapp'd in the sleep of sin ye dwelt,
Now is My fearful judgment felt,
By a just doom your
Thus spake He, and a fearful storm
From Him proceeds, the
The thunders seize each wicked form,
And hurl them in the
The God-man closeth
Hell's sad doors,
In all His majesty He soars
From those dark regions
back to light.
He sitteth at the Father's side;
Oh, friends, what joy doth this betide!
For us, for us He still
The angels sacred quire around
Rejoice before the mighty
So that all creatures hear the sound:
be aye ador'd!"
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