The Lake of Zurich

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock


Translated by W. Taylor


FAIR is the majesty of all thy works

On the green earth, O Mother Nature, fair!

    But fairer the glad face

    Enraptured with their view.

Come from the vine-banks of the glittering lake,—

Or, hast thou climbed the smiling skies anew,

    Come on the roseate tip

    Of evening’s breezy wing,

And teach my song with glee of youth to glow,

Sweet Joy, like thee,—with glee of shouting youths,

    Or feeling Fanny’s laugh.


Behind us far already Uto lay,—

At whose foot Zurich in the quiet vale

    Feeds her free sons; behind,

    Receding vine-clad hills.

Unclouded beamed the top of silver Alps;

And warmer beat the heart of gazing youths,

    And warmer to their fair

    Companions spoke its glow.

And Haller’s Doris sang, the pride of song;

And Hirzel’s Daphne, dear to Kleist and Gleim;

    And we youths sang, and felt

    As each were—Hagedorn.


Soon the green meadow took us to the cool

And shadowy forest, which becrowns the isle.

    Then cam’st thou, Joy, thou cam’st

    Down in full tide to us;

Yes, Goddess Joy, thyself! We felt, we clasped,

Best sister of Humanity, thyself;

    With thy dear Innocence

    Accompanied, thyself!


Sweet thy inspiring breath, O cheerful Spring,

When the meads cradle thee, and thy soft airs

    Into the hearts of youths

    And hearts of virgins glide!

Thou makest Feeling conqueror. Ah! through thee,

Fuller, more tremulous heaves each blooming breast;

    With lips spell-freed by thee

    Young Love unfaltering pleads.


Fair gleams the wine when to the social change

Of thought or heartfelt pleasure it invites;

    And the Socratic cup,

    With dewy roses bound,

Sheds through the bosom bliss, and wakes resolves,

Such as the drunkard knows not,—proud resolves,

    Emboldening to despise

    Whate’er the sage disowns.


Delightful thrills against the panting heart

Fame’s silver voice, and immortality

    Is a great thought, well worth

    The toil of noble men.

By dint of song to live through after-times,—

Often to be with rapture’s thanking tone

    By name invoked aloud,

    From the mute grave invoked,—

To form the pliant heart of sons unborn,—

To plant thee, Love, thee, holy Virtue, there,—

    Gold-heaper, is well worth

    The toil of noble men.


But sweeter, fairer, more delightful ’t is

On a friend’s arm to know one’s self a friend!

    Nor is the hour so spent

    Unworthy heaven above.


Full of affection, in the airy shades

Of the dim forest, and with downcast look

    Fixed on the silver wave,

    I breathed this pious wish:

“O, were ye here, who love me, though afar,

Whom, singly scattered in our country’s lap,

    In lucky, hallowed hour,

    My seeking bosom found;

Here would we build us huts of friendship, here

Together dwell forever!” The dim wood

    A shadowy Tempo seemed;

    Elysium all the vale.