Sacred Longing


J.W. von Goethe



Tell no one except the wise,

For the crowd is quick to blame.

Of the living, I will prize

Him who yearns for death in flame.


Where the cool dark nights of passion

Sired you once, as you now sire,

You’re transfixed in mystic fashion

By the candle’s silent fire.


Nothing any longer thralls you

In the shadows’ tangled netting.

Now a higher craving calls you

To a more intense begetting.


Distance cannot stay your flight.

Spellbound in your furious dash,

Finally greedy for the light,

Butterfly, you burn to ash.


You who will not seize this quest –

Die and reawaken! –

Roam the world a pallid guest,

Sightless and forsaken.




tr. Jan Schreiber