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,
When he saw him,