Goethe wrote many poems about nature. In a recent post, I cited Longfellow’s translation of Goethe’s Uber allen Gipfeln  in which the speaker describes the highest hilltop in his home of Wiemer, Kickelhahn, a respite from the busyness and stress of life. In this poem, Goethe again strives to compose his text in harmony with his poetic nature.

In Gefunden, however, Goethe’s rhythmic movement is different. He is not sauntering (my raison d’etre) through the quite fields as we see in Uber, or in his famous poem “Wanderer”; instead, as we see in the second strophe, the pretty flowers in his garden has not changed the rhythm of his life.

Goethe spent much of his time studying the science of nature and wrote essays on his observations. However, in this poem, he is comparing the loveliness of the flower to his true love, Christiane. Like the flower, Christiane is as “Bright as any star in heaven” and in Goethe’s eyes, so fair.

Goethe used pure Middle-High German in these poems; no borrowed words or cognates. The roots are embedded in thoroughly German culture, in which I have little experience. As in the most recent poems I have translated, in Fraktur script, I have tried to capture the spirit of his original rather than the strophic structure.

Gefunden by Goethe

   Ich ging im Walde
So für mich hin,
Und nichts zu suchen,
Das war mein Sinn.

Im Schatten sah ich
Ein Blümchen stehn
Wie Sterne leuchtend,
Wie Äuglein schön.

Ich wollt’ es brechen,
Da sagt’ es fein:
Soll ich zum Welken
Gebrochen sein?

Ich grub’s mit allen
Den Würzlein aus
Zum Garten trug ich’s
Am hübschen Haus,

Und pflanzt’ es wieder
Am stillen Ort;
Nun zweigt as immer
Und blüht so fort.

My English Translation:

Through the forest idly,
Alone, as my steps I went:
With a free and happy heart,
My thoughts around me bent.

In the shadows I saw
A flower standing there
Bright as any star in heaven,
In my eyes, ‘twas truly fair.

As I stooped down to pluck it,
To me it gently said,
“Shall I be gathered now”
Only to wither and to fade?

Up with the roots I dug,
With care to where it grew,
And in my lovely garden
I planted it anew.

In a silent corner,
Beside my home so dear,
There grows it ever,
And blossoms all the year.

Work Cited

Kurz, Heinrich. Goethes Werke. Leipzig: Berlag Publishing House.

Copyright 2020 by Robyn Lowrie. May be quoted in part or full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com).