“On The New Year” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was published in the year 1804. However if you look around then you shall be intrigued by an interesting fact – the prologue to the poem says that the poem was composed by Goethe on the occasion of parties that were hosted at the poet’s house during the course of the year 1802.

The theme of the poem is very positive and as such it is not difficult to guess that the parties that were held have been merry ones. The original name of the poem is “Zum neuen Jahr” and it was first published in Taschenbuch auf das Jahr in the aforementioned year under the editorship of Wieland and Goethe.

Goethe’s principle in life was to acquire the most out of each moment that he lived, and the poetry is a candid reflection of the poet’s zest and zeal for life. Goethe was eager to live each day of his life king size, and naturally thought of sharing the same enthusiasm with his guests at the party.

What we sing in company
Soon from heart to heart will fly.

THE Gesellige Lieder, which I have angicisled 
as above, as several of them cannot be called convivial songs, are 
separated by Goethe from his other songs, and I have adhered to 
the same arrangement. The Ergo bibamus is a well-known drinking 
song in Germany, where it enjoys vast popularity.


[Composed for a merry party that used to meet, 
in 1802, at Goethe’s house.]

FATE now allows us,

‘Twixt the departing

And the upstarting,
Happy to be;
And at the call of

Memory cherish’d,

Future and perish’d
Moments we see.

Seasons of anguish,–

Ah, they must ever

Truth from woe sever,
Love and joy part;
Days still more worthy

Soon will unite us,

Fairer songs light us,
Strength’ning the heart.

We, thus united,

Think of, with gladness,

Rapture and sadness,
Sorrow now flies.
Oh, how mysterious

Fortune’s direction!

Old the connection,

New-born the prize!

Thank, for this, Fortune,

Wavering blindly!

Thank all that kindly
Fate may bestow!
Revel in change’s

Impulses clearer,

Love far sincerer,
More heartfelt glow!

Over the old one,

Wrinkles collected,

Sad and dejected,
Others may view;
But, on us gently

Shineth a true one,

And to the new one
We, too, are new.

As a fond couple

‘Midst the dance veering,

First disappearing,
Then reappear,
So let affection

Guide thro’ life’s mazy

Pathways so hazy
Into the year!


– By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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