DIRECTOR. Let’s hear, you two, who have so long
Here by my side endured and suffered,
What might be hoped for from this effort
In countries of the German tongue?
I would prepare the crowd a special revel,
For they believe in living, letting live.
The posts are raised, the boards laid down and level,
All are in hoped we have a feast to give.
With eyebrows raised they sit in the enclosure
And long to be amazed, with due composure.
I know how people’s taste may be caressed;
And yet I am in direr straits than ever;
While they are not accustomed to the best,
Still they are frightfully well-read and clever.
How can we see that all is fresh and new
And, with significance, engaging too?
Of course I find a crowd of people pleasing,
Delight in throngs at our pavilion queued,
In pulsing pangs of might labor squeezing
Through the tight portals of beatitude,
When in bright daylight, well before it’s four,
They fight their way up to the cashier’s slot
And, as in time of famine by the baker’s door,
For tickets break their necks, as like as not.
Upon such diverse folk can work this wondrous sway
None but the poet; friend, do it today!
POET. Invoke me not the motley crowd unsteady,
Whose very aspect puts the mind to flight!
Oh, shroud from me the swirling human eddy
That draws us downward, struggle as we might.
Find me that nook of heaven’s stillness, heady
With blossom of the poet’s pure delight,
Where for the heart both love and friendship flourish,
With godly hands create its bliss and nourish.
Ah, what broke forth where deeply it lay buried,
What lip has shyly lisped in private hours,
Accomplished now, at other times miscarried,
The savage moment’s vehemence devours.
It often is through years of waiting ferried
Before it issues in its ripened powers.
What shines is for the moment born, must perish;
The genuine, posterity will cherish.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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