[This sweet Ballad, and the one entitled The
Maid of the Mill’s Repentance, were written on the occasion of a
Visit paid by Goethe to Switzerland. The Maid of the Mill’s Treachery,
To which the latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following
SAY, sparkling streamlet, whither thou
With joyous mien thy waters now
Why seek the vale so hastily?
Attend for once, and answer me!
Oh youth, I was a brook indeed;
My bed they’ve deepen’d, and my speed
That I may haste to yonder mill.
And so I’m full and never still.
The mill thou seekest in a mood
And know’st not how my youthful blood
But doth the miller’s daughter fair
Gaze often on thee kindly there?
She opes the shutters soon as light
And comes to bathe her features bright
So full and snow-white is her breast,
I feel as hot as steam suppress’d.
If she in water can inflame
Surely, then, flesh and blood to tame
When once is seen her beauteous face,
One ever longs her steps to trace.
Over the wheel I, roaring, bound,
And ev’ry spoke whirls swiftly round,
Since I have seen the miller’s daughter,
With greater vigour flows the water.
Like others, then, can grief, poor brook,
“Flow on!” thus she’ll, with smiling look,
With her sweet loving glance, oh say,
Can she thy flowing current stay?
‘Tis sad, ’tis sad to have to speed
I wind, and slowly through the mead
And if the choice remain’d with me,
Would hasten back there presently.
Farewell, thou who with me dost prove
Perchance some day thou’lt breathe of love
Go, tell her straight, and often too,
The boy’s mute hopes and wishes true.