Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: “The Three Kingdoms of Nature”

.Excerpt, “The Poetry of Germany, Consisting from Upwards of Seventy of the Most Celebrated Poets.”  Translated into English Verse by Alfred Baskerville.  1853.


The Three Kingdoms of Nature


I sought, while drinking, to unfold

Why Nature’s kingdoms are threefold.

Both man and beast, they drink and love,

As each is gifted from above;

The dolphin, eagle, dog and flea,

In that they love and drink, agree.

In all that drink and love then, we

The first of these three kingdoms see.


The plants the second kingdom are,

But lower in creation far;

They do not love, but yet they drink,

When dripping clouds upon them sink;

Thus drinks the clover, thus the pine,

The aloe tree and branching vine,

In all that drink, but love not, we

The second of these kingdoms see.


The stony kingdom is the last,

Here diamonds with sand are classed;

No stone feels thirst, or soft desires,

No love, no draught its bosom fires.

In all that drink not, love not, we

The last of these three kingdoms see.

For without love, or wine, now own!

What wouldst thou be, oh Man? – A stone.