Mignon – a poem by Goethe

(from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 1795)

Knowst thou the land of flowering lemon trees?
In leafage dark the golden orange glows,
From azure sky there wafts a gentle breeze,
Calm the myrtle, high the laurel grows,
Knowst thou it still?
Aiee, aiee,
There would I go, beloved mine, with thee.

Knowst thou the house? Its column-bedded roof,
The shining hall, the inner room aglow,
The marble statues gaze but do not move:
What have they done, poor child, to hurt thee so?
Knowst thou it still?
Aiee, aiee,
There would I go, protector mine, with thee.

Knowst thou the mountain, stepping up through cloud?
The mule in mist treads out his path; a cave,
And in it dwells the ancient dragon brood;
The crag swoops down and over it the wave;
Knowst thou it still?
Aiee, aiee,
There goes the way, father, for thee and me.
—-

(This translation is dedicated to the memory of Gerard de Nerval)
Translated by Christopher Middleton

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