An die Deutschen

An die Deutschen

by Friedrich Holderlin

Never mock the child when the silly creature

Thinks himself so glorious and big sitting on his wooden horse,

O my good friends, we too are

Poor in deed and rich in thought!

But will the deed perhaps emerge from thought,

Fully fledged and inspired, like a flash from the clouds?

Does the fruit follow the quiet written word

As it follows dark leaves of the grove?

And the people’s silence, is it celebration

Before the feast, the fear that announces god?

O seize me, dear friends, so I’ll

Pay for these blasphemous words.

Too long, too long I’ve strayed like a layman

In this emerging workshop of the sculpting spirit,

Only what blooms do I see,

What he’s planting I don’t.

And its sweet to guess at this, yet a sorrow as well,

And I’ve spent too many years already

Lost in mortal, senseless love,

Doubting, always moved in his presence,

He who from his loving soul always brings

His constant work nearer to me, smiles

At this mortal man where I lose heart,

And ripens the pure depth of life.

O Creator, O when, genius of our Volk,

When will you wholly appear, soul of the Fatherland,

That I may bow more deeply,

That my quietest string

Might fall silent before you, that I, ashamed,

A flower of night, O heavenly day, might

End before you in joy,

When all of them with whom

I used to mourn, when our cities grow

Bright and open, awake, full of purer fire,

And the mountains of the German

Lands become the Mountains of the Muses

As the glorious one once were, Pindus and Helicon,

And Parnassus, and under

The Fatherland’s golden sky the spiritual joy

Gleams free and clear all around.

All too limited is the time of life,

We observe and count out our numbers of years,

But has a mortal eye

Observed the years of a Nation?

When your soul ever longing, soars

Beyond its time, you linger in grief

On freezing shores

With your own and don’t know them,

And as for the future ones, the promised ones,

Where, where do you glimpse them that you might once

Again find a warm and friendly hand

And be heard by a single simple soul?

The halls, poor seer, have given            no echo

For years, longing your eyes grow dim

And you slump down in sleep,

Nameless, unwept.

But you!


When he saw him,


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