By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

So cover up thy heaven, Zeus,
With cloudy mist!
And like a boy, who chops
The heads from thistles,
Go blast the oaks and mountaintops!
Yet thou must permit me
To keep my world,
And my rude dwelling,
That thou didst not build,
And my warm hearth,
Whose cheerful glow
Fills thee with envy.

I know nothing shabbier
Under the sun than ye godlings!
Ye nourish mis'rably,
With sacrifices
And with prayer-breath,
Your poor majesty,
And but for fools' hope
From children and beggars,
All of you would famish.

Back in my childhood,
I didn't know up from down,
And I cast erratic glances
Up yonder, as if yonder were
An ear to hear my lamentation,
A heart like mine,
One to take pity on the trampled.

Who helped me
Stand against the Titans' insolence?
Who rescued me from certain death,
From slavery?
Hast thou not done it all thyself, my
Sacred glowing heart?
Though glowing young and good,
Deceived, and thankful to
The sleeping one up yonder?

I revere thee? What for?
When hast thou eased the afflictions
Of the oppresséd ones?
When hast thou silenced the tearful
Cries of the anguished ones?
Was I not once forged into manhood
By omnipotent Time
And by Fate everlasting,
Both my masters, and yours, too?

Thou wert deluded
That I'd look at life with hatred,
To deserts flee--
Just because not all my youthful
Morning-dreams did blossom?

Here I sit, forming humans
In mine own image,
It will be a race like me,
For suffering, weeping,
Enjoying and rejoicing, and shall
Pay thee no attention,
Like me!

 Posted by permission of the translator

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