Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
  • Home
  • About
  • Archive
  • Bio Notes
  • Bookshelf
  • Contents
  • Submit
SHJ Issue 3
Spring 2011

The Moonlit Night

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Translated After Emil Aarestrup’s Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy

Supreme mistress, tell, what whispers
from the rose red of your red lips?
So slight was their opening,
for the wine’s sweetness you would sip.
Will you tempt me with the lusters
on that scarlet fastening?
     I want to kiss, to kiss, to kiss!

Look! In the dimness, in the dark
all the flowering branches glow,
stars shivering and shining,
the moonbeams upon the so, so
red and emerald leaves sparkle;
but you pay heed to nothing.
     I want to kiss, to kiss, to kiss!

Because of your lover’s distance,
his bitter wormwood blending
into this liquor of bliss.
This clear moonlit evening
you two swore just this instant
should be the tryst.
     I want to kiss, to kiss, to kiss.


—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832): German poet, playwright, novelist, and philosopher; one of the greatest figures in Western literature

—Carl Ludwig Emil Aarestrup (1800–1856): Danish physician who wrote erotic lyrical poetry in his spare time; now considered one of Denmark’s most influential poets

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury