By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
ON bridges small and bridges great
Stands Nepomucks in ev’ry state,
Of bronze, wood, painted, or of stone,
Some small as dolls, some giants grown;
Each passer must worship before Nepomuck,
Who to die on a bridge chanced to have the ill luck,
When once a man with head and ears
A saint in people’s eyes appears,
Or has been sentenced piteously
Beneath the hangman’s hand to die,
He’s as a noted person prized,
In portrait is immortalized.
Engravings, woodcuts, are supplied,
And through the world spread far and wide.
Upon them all is seen his name,
And ev’ry one admits his claim;
Even the image of the Lord
Is not with greater zeal ador’d.
Strange fancy of the human race!
Half sinner frail, half child of grace
We see HERR WERTHER of the story
In all the pomp of woodcut glory.
His worth is first made duly known,
By having his sad features shown
At ev’ry fair the country round;
In ev’ry alehouse too they’re found.
His stick is pointed by each dunce
“The ball would reach his brain at once!”
And each says, o’er his beer and bread:
“Thank Heav’n that ’tis not we are dead!”