The Collected Letters, Volume 1


JBW TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 7 August 1821; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18210807-JBW-TC-01; CL 1:375-376.


Haddington / August 7, 1821

Dear Sir

Goethe will not come to me! I have tried again and again, but cannot master the spirit of the original in my translation. Here are my first lines:—

The waters rush'd, the waters swelled
A fisher sat thereby,
Dull gazing on the line he held,
He felt no grief nor joy.

The last, I am aware, gives very inadequately the exquisite “Kuhl bis ans Herg [Herz] hinan”; but I can do no better. However I may send my last four lines as well, and give you the rest when I see you.1

She spoke to him, she sang to him,
His love of earth was o'er;
With gentle force she drew him in,
He sank to rise no more.

Now as I have kept my promise to give you my verse translations, and tame enough they are, in all conscience, to go by the carrier— I trust you fu[l]fil yours to let me have all your own poetry. All!

Yours truly /

Jane Baillie Welsh