Goethe: “Song of the Captive Count”

My Favorite Flower

Song of the Captive Count


I know a Flower, of beauty rare,

I pant to call the prize mine own;

I fain would pluck that Floweret fair,

But, ah! – I’m here a captive lone;

When I enjoyed sweet liberty,

That Flower was ever near to me.

My destiny – how bitter!

Mine eye, from this drear, lofty tower,

Oft roves to seek that Floweret bright;

Alas! How vainly I explore,

The Flower greets not my piercing sight;

He who that Floweret brings to me,

If chevalier, or page, he be,

Shall feel my deathless friendship –


Beneath thy prison-bars am I,

On thee, can I bestow delight?

For me, the Rose, dost thou not sigh,

Oh, captive, yet illustrious Knight?

Thou sensitive, unhappy one!

Who doubts, the Queen of Flowers, alone,

O’er thy lone heart reigns sovereign?


Sweet, blushing Flower, in vesture green,

The palm of beauty is thine own!

Maidens adore the Flowers’ bright Queen,

As diamond, gold, or precious stone.

Thy tint adorns the fairest cheek,

Yet, lovely Queen! The flower I seek,

Is not the Rose, so peerless.


Proud and ambitious is the Rose,

And o’er aspiring after fame;

Whoe’er with gentle feeling glows,

The Lily’s sympathy will claim.

Lovers those whose hearts beat faithfully,

They who are pure of soul, as I,

Will estimate my value.


Deeds ignominious I disown,

From all dishonour am I free,

Yet, here, am I a prisoner lone,

And pining in captivity!

Although thou’rt a similitude

Of countless maidens, fair and good,

I know a Flower, more lovely.


Perchance that I may prove that Flower,

And, in thy jailor’s garden grow,

Or, why, at morn, and evening hour,

On me, such care should he bestow?

Exhaling perfumes rich, behold,

Luxuriantly, my leaves unfold,

In countless brilliant colours!


The fragrant Pink bestows delight,

The Pink the gardener’s love has won,

Now, Foliage veils her from the sight,

And now he plants her ‘neath the sun;

Yet, ah, that flower which, to my heart,

Doth calm felicity impart,

Is modest and retiring.


Although mine accents rarely sound,

And, in seclusion, though I live,

My silence, lengthened and profound,

I’ll break, if solace thee it give.

Brave Knight!- am I thy favourite Flower?

I grieve that, towards thy prison-tower,

My fragrance ne’er is wafted!


Bright, modest Flower!I honour thee,

What grateful sweets thy charms impart!

Yet, gentle Violet, sympathy

Heals not the Captive’s tortured heart.

Far from this rock-built prison drear,

Blooms that fair Flower which I revere,

By memory – dearly cherished.

By yonder streamlet, silently,

Wanders my youthful Wife, alone,

There, daily will she weep, and sigh

Till sacred liberty I’ve won.

When, a blue Flower, from that lone spot,

She holds, and says:“Forget me not!”

Her accents vibrate hither.

At distance, Love’s magnetic power,

O’er faithful hearts, holds mystic sway.

This dreary cell, at midnight-hour,

Is cheered by Love’s celestial ray.

When writhes my soul o’er Fate’s stern lot,

Are these thrilling words:“Forget me not!”