The Poems of Goethe

By Edgar Alfred Bowring; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Go to book overview

RELIGION AND CHURCH.

THOUGHTS ON JESUS CHRIST'S DESCENT INTO
HELL.

[THE remarkable Poem of which this is a literal but faint representation, was written when Goethe was only sixteen years old. It derives additional interest from the fact of its being the very earliest piece of his that is preserved. The few other pieces included by Goethe under the title of Religion and Church are polemical, and devoid of interest to the English reader.

WHAT wondrous noise is heard around!
Through heaven exulting voices sound,
A mighty army marches on
By thousand millions follow'd, lo,
To yon dark place makes haste to go
God's Son, descending from His throne!
He goes -- the tempests round Him break,
As Judge and Hero cometh He;
He goes -- the constellations quake,
The sun, the world quake fearfully.

I see Him in His victor-car,
On fiery axles borne afar,
Who on the cross for us expired.
The triumph to yon realms He shows, --
Remote from earth, where star ne'er glows,
The triumph He for us acquired.
He cometh, Hell to extirpate,
Whom He, by dying, wellnigh kill'd;
He shall pronounce her fearful fate:
Hark! now the curse is straight fulfill'd.

Hell sees the victor come at last,
She feels that now her reign is past.
She quakes and fears to meet His sight;
She knows His thunders' terrors dread,
In vain she seeks to hide her head,
Attempts to fly, but vain is flight;

-263-

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The Poems of Goethe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • The Translator's Original Dedication iii
  • Original Preface iv
  • Preface to the Second Edition vii
  • Contents ix
  • Dedication 17
  • Songs 20
  • Familiar Songs 79
  • Ballads 100
  • Cantatas 150
  • Odes 160
  • Miscellaneous Poems 183
  • Sonnets 214
  • Epigrams 222
  • Parables 228
  • Art 247
  • God, Soul, and World 256
  • Religion and Church 263
  • Antiques 268
  • Elegies 279
  • West-Eastern Divan 362
  • Songs from Various Plays, Etc. 390
  • Epilogue - To Schiller's "Song of the Bell." 409
  • L'Envoi 412
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