Author:

Looking Outward

The open day is bright with pictures for everyone,
when green fields appear on the distant plain,
before the light of evening yields to twilight,
and reflections of light alleviate the noise of the day.
The inner being of the world often appears clouded
and hidden, and people’s minds are full of doubts
and irritation, but splendid nature cheers up their days,
and doubt’s dark questions stay distant.

From In Lovely Blue

Like the stamen inside a flower
The steeple stands in lovely blue
And the day unfolds around its needle;

The flock of swallows that circles the steeple
Flies there each day through the same blue air
That carries their cries from me to you;

We know how high the sun is now
As long as the roof of the steeple glows,
The roof that’s covered with sheets of tin;

Up there in the wind, where the wind is not
Turning the vane of the weathercock,
The weathercock silently crows in the wind.

The Course Of Life

You too wanted better things, but love
forces all of us down. Sorrow bends us more
forcefully, but the arc doesn’t return to its
point of origin without a reason.

Upwards or downwards! In holy Night,
where mute Nature plans the coming days,
doesn’t there reign in the most twisted Orcus
something straight and direct?

This I have learned. Never to my knowledge
did you, all-preserving gods, like mortal
masters, lead me providentially
along a straight path.

The gods say that man should test
everything, and that strongly nourished
he be thankful for everything, and understand
the freedom to set forth wherever he will.

Human Applause

Isn’t my heart holy, more full of life’s beauty,
since I fell in love? Why did you like me more
when I was prouder and wilder, more full
of words, yet emptier?

Well, the crowd likes whatever sells in the
marketplace; and no one but a slave
appreciates violent men. Only those who
are themselves godlike believe in the gods.

The Journey

Suevia, my mother, happy land!
You also are like your more shining sister
Lombardy over there
Flowed through by a hundred streams
And trees in plenty, white with blossom or reddish
And the darker, deep, full green, the wild trees
And the Alps of Switzerland overshadow you too,
Neighbourly; for near the hearth of the house
Is where you live and you can hear
Inside from silvery vessels
The spring rushing that issues
From pure hands when touched

By warm rays
Crystal ice and tipped over
By the lightly quickening light
The snowy summit drenches the earth
With purest water. For that reason
You are born loyal. Hard
Living near the source to quit the place.
And your children, the towns
On the long lake in the haze
On the willowy Neckar and on the Rhine
All think
Nowhere would be better to live.

Ages Of Life

Euphrates’ cities and
Palmyra’s streets and you
Forests of columns in the level desert
What are you now?
Your crowns, because
You crossed the boundary
Of breath,
Were taken off
In Heaven’s smoke and flame;
But I sit under clouds (each one
Of which has peace) among
The ordered oaks, upon
The deer’s heath, and strange
And dead the ghosts of the blessed ones
Appear to me.

Bread And Wine

Round about the city rests. The illuminated streets grow

Quiet, and coaches rush along, adorned with torches.

Men go home to rest, filled with the day’s pleasures;

Busy minds weigh up profit and loss contentedly

At home. The busy marketplace comes to rest,

Vacant now of flowers and grapes and crafts.

But the music of strings sounds in distant gardens:

Perhaps lovers play there, or a lonely man thinks

About distant friends, and about his own youth.

Rushing fountains flow by fragrant flower beds,

Bells ring softly in the twilight air, and a watchman

Calls out the hour, mindful of the time.

Now a breeze rises and touches the crest of the grove —

Look how the moon, like the shadow of our earth,

Also rises stealthily! Phantastical night comes,

Full of stars, unconcerned probably about us —

Astonishing night shines, a stranger among humans,

Sadly over the mountain tops, in splendor.

The Titans

It’s not yet
Time. They are still
Unbound. And the indifferent don’t care
About godly matters.
Let them puzzle it out
With the Oracle. Meanwhile, during the festivities,
I’ll take my ease thinking of the dead.
In the old days, many generals died
and lovely women and poets.
Today, it’s many men.
But I am alone.

and sailing on the ocean
The sweetly scented islands
Ask where they are.

For something of them remains
In writing and in myth.
God reveals so much.
For a long time the clouds
Have influenced what’s below
And the holy forest, fertile as a god,
Has sent down roots.
The world’s riches burn too intensely.
For we don’t have the song
That will shake our spirit free.
It would consume itself,
For the heavenly fire can never
Endure captivity.

Yet men enjoy
The banquet, and in celebration,
Their eyes are brightened by pearls
On a young woman’s neck.
Also games of war
and through
The garden paths
The memory of battle clatters;
The resonant weapons
Of heroic ancestors lie soothed
And still upon the breasts
Of children. But the bees hum
Around me, and where the plowman
Makes his furrows, birds
Sing against the light. Many give
Help to heaven. The poet
Sees them. It’s good to rely
On others. For no one can bear his life alone.

For when the busy day
Catches fire,
And heavenly dew glistens
On the chain
Leading lightning from sunrise
To its source, even mortals
Feel its grandeur.
That’s why they build houses
And the workshop is so busy
And ships sail against the currents
And men exchange greetings
Holding out their hands; it’s sensible
On earth, and not for nothing
Do we fix our eyes on the ground.

Yet you sense
A different way.
For proportion demands
That coarseness exist
For purity to be known.

But when the first cause
Reaches into the earth
To make it come to life,
People think the heavenly
Have come down to the dead
And the all-knowing has dawned
In a boundless emptiness.
It’s not for me to say
That the gods are growing weak
Just as they come into being.
But when
and it goes

As far as the part in father’s hair, so that

and the bird of heaven
Makes it known to him. Wonderful
in anger, that’s what matters.

As On A Holiday

As on a holiday, when a farmer
Goes out to look at his fields, in the morning,
After cool lightning has fallen through the hot night,
And thunder still echoes in the distance,
And the stream returns to its banks,
And the earth becomes green and fresh,
And drops of joyful rain from heaven rest
Upon the vines, and the trees in the grove
Stand shining in the quiet sun —

Thus poets stand in favorable weather:
Those whom no master, but rather Nature,
Mighty and beautiful in its divinity, wonderfully
And universally present, educates with gentle embrace.
And when Nature appears to sleep at some seasons,
Either in the sky or among plants or nations,
So the aspect of poets is also mournful.
They seem to be alone, but their foreknowledge continues.
For Nature itself is prescient, as it rests.

Now it is day! I waited to see it come,
And what I saw — my words bespeak holiness!
For Nature, who is older than time,
Standing above the gods of the Occident and Orient,
Has awakened to the sounds of arms.
All-creating Nature feels the enthusiasm anew,
From Aether down to the abyss,
As when she was born of holy Chaos,
According to the established law.

And as fire shines in a man’s eye
When he plans something great,
So a fire is kindled again in the minds
Of poets, by the signs and deeds of the world.
What happened before, scarcely sensed,
Becomes apparent now for the first time.
And those who plowed our fields
In the form of smiling laborers
Are now recognized as the all-living
Forces of the gods.

Would you question them? Their spirit moves in song,
Grown from the sun of day and the warm earth,
And from storms, those of the air, and others
Originating farther within the depths of time,
More perceptible and meaningful to us,
Drifting between heaven and earth, and among nations.
They are thoughts of the common spirit,
Quietly ending in the mind of the poet,

Which, long familiar with the infinite,
Is struck quickly, and shakes with the memory.
Set on fire by the holy radiance,
It creates a song — the fruit born of love,
The work of gods and man,
Bearing witness to both.
Thus lightning fell on Semele’s house,
As poets relate, since she wanted to see
A god in person. Struck by the god,
She gave birth to holy Bacchus,
The fruit of the storm.

Thus the sons of earth now drink in
The fire of heaven without danger.
And it is our duty, poets, to stand
Bare-headed under the storms of God,
Grasping with our own hand
The Father’s beam itself,
And to offer the gift of heaven,
Wrapped in song, to the people.
If our hearts are pure, like children,
And our hands are guiltless,

The Father’s pure radiance won’t sear;
And the deeply shaken heart, sharing
The suffering of the stronger god,
Will endure the raging storms when he approaches.

But alas, if from – – – – – – – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Alas!
And if I now say – – – – –
I had come to see the gods,
They themselves cast me down to the living,
Me, the false priest, down to darkness,
That I sing a song of warning to those able to learn.
There – – –

The Neckar

My heart awakened to life in your valleys,
Your waves played around me.
And all of the fair hills that know you,
Wayfarer, are known to me as well.

On those peaks the winds from the sky
Relieved me from pains of bondage,
And silver-blue waves shone forth from the valley,
Like the joy of life pouring out from a chalice.

Mountain springs hurried down to you,
My heart with them, and you took us along
To the quietly splendid Rhine, down
To its cities and pleasant islands.

The world seems to me yet beautiful, and my eyes
Search out with desire the charms of the earth,
To golden Paktolos, to Smyrna’s shores,
To Ilion’s woods. How I’d like to

Go ashore at Sunium, and ask for the silent road
To your pillars, Olympia! Before age
And storm winds bury you as well
In the ruins of Athens’ temples,

Along with the statues of its gods. For you
Have long stood alone, pride of a world
That no longer exists. And the beautiful
Islands of Ionia, where sea air

Cools the hot shores and rushes through the woods
Of laurel, when the sun warms the grapevines,
And, oh, where golden autumn changes
The sighs of the poor people into songs,

When the pomegranate ripens, when the orange trees
Nod in a green night, and the gum trees drip
Resin, and drums and cymbals resound
To labyrinthine dances.

Perhaps someday my guardian deity will bring me
To these islands, but even then my thoughts
Would remain loyal to the Neckar
With its lovely meadows and pastoral shores.

Celebration Of Peace

The holy, familiar hall, built long ago,
Is aired, and filled with heavenly,
Softly echoing, quietly modulating music.
A cloud of joy sends fragrance
Over the green carpets. Shining in the
Distance, a splendid row of gold-wreathed
Cups stands, well-ordered, full of ripe fruits.
Tables stand at the sides, rising above
The leveled ground. For now in the evening
Loving guests have gathered, coming from far.

And with half-shut eye I think I can see
The prince of the festival himself,
Smiling from the day’s earnest work.
Though you like to deny your foreign origin,
And even when you lower your eye, tired
From the long crusade — forgotten, lightly shadowed —
And you assume the appearance of an acquaintance,
Still you’re recognized by everyone; your superiority
Alone almost forces one to his knees.
Being nothing in your presence, I know
You are not mortal. A wise person can
Explain a lot, but where a god appears,
There is different clarity.

He isn’t of the present, yet doesn’t come unannounced;
And one who feared neither flood nor flame
Doesn’t surprise us without a reason, now that all is quiet,
And dominion is invisible among spirits and humans.
That is, just now the work become audible,
Long in preparation, from morning to evening.
For the thunderer’s echo, the thousand-year storm,
Roars immeasurably down towards rest, resounding
In the depths, while peaceful sounds rise above it.
But you, days of innocence, become dear to us:
Today you bring the festival, beloved ones!
And the spirit flourishes in the evening stillness,
And I must counsel you, friends, to prepare the wreaths
And the food, since now we’re like eternal youths,
Even if our hair were silver grey.

There are many I should like to invite, but you,
Who were devoted to mankind in a friendly, yet
Earnest way, and who liked to stay at the well
Under Syrian palms, near the city… the fields
Of grain rustled in the wind, the coolness drifted
Down from the shaded holy mountain,
And the loyal clouds, your friends,
Cast their shadows around you,
So that your holy, daring radiance shone gently
Through the wilderness upon men, o Youth!
But then a deadly fate enshadowed you
More darkly, terribly and definitively
In the middle of your words. Thus everything
From heaven passes quickly, but not in vain.

For a god, knowing always the proper measure,
Touches sparingly and just for a moment the homes
Of men — unexpectedly, and no one knows when.
But then something boisterous may appear,
And wildness may come to the holy place from afar.
Grasping about roughly, it touches upon madness,
And fills some intention thereby.
Gratitude doesn’t follow the gift
From the gods immediately:
It has to be deeply studied first.
For if the giver hadn’t been cautious,
From the blessing of the hearth both
Floor and ceiling would have gone up in flames.

We’ve received much from the gods.
Fire was handed to us, and the ocean’s
Flood and shore. Much more,
For alien powers have become familiar
To us in a human way. The stars
Over your head can teach you things,
Although you can’t equal them.
Yet of the all-living ones — from whom
Issue much pleasure and song —
One is a calmly powerful son.
Knowing his father, we recognize him,
Now that the high Spirit of the World
Has descended to mankind
To keep the holidays.

He had long become too great to be
The Lord of Time, and his territory
Extended far… when would it
Have exhausted him? But a god
May once choose mundane life also,
Like mortals, and share their fate.
One law of fate requires that people
Should know each other, so that when
Silence returns, there will also be a language.
Where the spirit is at work, we are present too,
And talk about what is best. To me, the best
Is when the picture is done, and the artist
Finishes and steps transfigured from his workplace,
The quiet God of Time, and only the reconciling
Law of love extends from here to heaven.

Man has learned much since morning,
For we are a conversation, and we can listen
To one another. Soon we’ll be song.
And the picture of time, which the great spirit unfolds,
Lies as a sign before us, indicating that a covenant
Between himself and others, himself and other powers exists.
Not he alone, but also the unconceived and eternal ones
Are recognizable in the picture,
Just as our mother, the earth, recognizes herself,
And light and air, through the plant kingdom.
But the all-gathering day of the festival
Is the ultimate sign of love, the witness
Of your existence, o holy powers.

The gods aren’t revealed in miracles now,
Nor do they remain unseen as during a storm;
Now they are met together as guests,
A holy number, holy in every way,
And present in choruses of song.
And the person they love most,
Their favorite, is here.
Thus I’ve summoned you to the banquet
Now prepared, you, the unforgettable one,
To the evening of time, o Youth,
To be the Prince of the Festival.
And our race will not sleep
Until all the promised, immortal gods
Are here in our halls
To speak of their heaven.

Lightly breathing winds
Proclaim your arrival;
Valley mists announce you all,
And the earth, still sounding from the storm.
Hope colors the cheeks;
Mother and child
Sit before the house door,
Looking upon the peace.
Few seem to die:
A premonition, sent from the golden light,
Holds the soul back;
A promise retains the eldest.

Now all labors,
The seasoning of life,
Are prepared and completed above.
Everything pleases,
Simple things the most.
The long-awaited
Golden fruit
Has fallen from the ancient tree
After terrible storms,
But then is guarded, like a treasured possession,
By holy Fate with gentle weapons:
This has the shape of the gods.

Like a lioness, Mother,
Nature, you lament,
Since you lost your children.
Your enemy, all-loving one,
Has stolen them from you,
Since you adopted him almost
To be your own son, placing
Gods in the company of satyrs.
Thus you’ve created much
And buried much,
Because that which you brought
To light too soon, all-powerful one,
Now hates you.
But this too you recognize and accept,
For whatever arouses fear prefers
To rest insensate below
Until its time has come.