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The Comet
Joseph Victor von Scheffel


 I, a poor comet on high, you see,
    How windy and wild is my destiny!
        I live in constant sorrow,
        My light e'en I must borrow;
I only appear from time to time,
Then must wander away in gloom and grime.

By lady Sun I'm ever distracted,
    And to her by power magnetic attracted;
        Yet she will not endure
        That I should rise up to her,
I must long for her from flights afar,
For, alas! I'm in fact an eccentric star.

The fixed stars all in bitter fun
    Declare I'm a lost and prodigal son.
        They say I still go tottering
        Here, there, among them pottering,
And where I once on my way have been
Nothing but dimness and darkness are seen.

The planets regard me with scorn, and say
    That I always come bothering in their way.
        Dame Venus and her sisters
        Call me one of those crazy twisters,
'His tail is too great, and his nucleus too small.
Such an ill-made night stroller's worth nothing at all.'

That I'm a scandal they cry or lisp,
    And call me a dreamer or Will-o'-the-wisp.
        And down on earth a-squinting,
        I see the learned ones printing,
'He's neither firm nor settled, nor would be,
Though he should spin to all eternity.'

E'en Humboldt, who handles nothing lightly,
    Treats me in his Cosmos far from politely,
        And should he write—I ask all—
        And am I such a rascal? —
'The wandering comet, much thinner than foam,
With the smallest corps takes up the greatest room.'

But bide yon star-gazing spitefuls! —bide?
    You don't know me yet from the innermost side.
        Some day I'll catch you—curse ye?
        And make you cry for mercy?
Then you'll go through me, and I'll meet your hope,
For with meteors I'll smash up your telescope.

This poem is in the public domain.
Translated by Charles G. Leland.



Joseph Victor von Scheffel (1826 – 1886) was a German poet and novelist. At his father’s insistence, he studied law and embarked on a career as a civil servant but decided, after a few years, to pursue a literary career instead. Joseph’s work was tremendously popular during his lifetime, and he was also a gifted artist. Unfortunately, he was plagued by persistent vision problems and, later on, poor health.


Post New Comment:
Years ago, from a hayfield in Wyoming, I watched a meteor, a ball of fire flying through the sky. It landed in Canada.
Posted 01/24/2023 09:52 AM
Wilda Morris:
Wonderful persona poem! Thanks for posting it.
Posted 01/24/2023 09:02 AM
From the comets perspective. Respectful
Posted 01/24/2023 08:46 AM
Darrell Arnold:
I chuckled all the way through this one. A wry wit. I never before knew that comets had issues. I like it.
Posted 01/24/2023 08:35 AM
Larry Schug:
Not a typical YDP poem, but I like it--the personification of a comet. Who'd have thought it?
Posted 01/24/2023 08:18 AM

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