The King of Thule

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There was a king in Thule,
Was faithful to the grave,
Whom she that loved him truly
In dying a goblet gave.

He found no prize more appealing,
Each feast he drained the cup;
To his eyes the tears came stealing
Whenever he held it up.

And when he came to dying,
The towns in his realm he enrolled,
His heir no prize denying,
Except that cup of gold.

And at a royal wassail
With all his knights sat he
In the hall of his father's castle
That faces toward the sea.

The old carouser slowly
Stood up, drank life's last glow,
And flung the cup so holy
Into the flood below.

He saw it plunging, drinking
As deep in the sea it sank.
His eyes the while were sinking,
Not a drop again he drank.

1774, translation by Edwin Zeydel, 1955      

Versions --> German - English:  Bowring
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© 1994-1999 Robert Godwin-Jones
Virginia Commonwealth University