Goethe on Nature and Art

Nature and Art

by Johann W. von Goethe,

translated by David Luke

Nature and Art, they go their separate ways,
It seems; yet all at once they find each other.
Even I no longer am a foe to either;
Both equally attract me nowadays.
Some honest toil’s required; then, phase by phase,
When diligence and wit have worked together
To tie us fast to Art with their good tether,
Nature again may set our hearts ablaze.
All culture is like this; the unfettered mind,
The boundless spirit’s mere imagination,
For pure perfection’s heights will strive in vain.
To achieve great things, we must be self-confined:
Mastery is revealed in limitation
And law alone can set us free again.