Roman Elegies V by Goethe

I feel I’m happily inspired now on Classical soil:

The Past and Present speak louder, more charmingly.

Here, as advised, I leaf through the works of the Ancients

With busy hands, and, each day, with fresh delight.

But at night Love keeps me busy another way:

I become half a scholar but twice as contented.

And am I not learning, studying the shape

Of her lovely breasts: her hips guiding my hand?

Then I know marble more: thinking, comparing,

See with a feeling eye: feel with a seeing hand.

If my darling is stealing the day’s hours from me,

She gives me hours of night in compensation.

We’re not always kissing: we often talk sense:

When she’s asleep, I lie there filled with thought.

Often I’ve even made poetry there in her arms,

Counted hexameters gently there on my fingers

Over her body. She breathes in sweetest sleep,

And her breath burns down to my deepest heart.

Amor trims the lamp then and thinks of the times.

Translated by Tony Kline