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Reviews, essays, and translations

Entries in Novalis (5)

Friday
Oct282016

Novalis, "Wer einsam sitzt in seiner Kammer"

A work ("Who sits forlorn within his room") by this German poet.  You can read the original here.

Who sits forlorn within his room,
And cries such grave and bitter tears,
So will this region then appear
Besmirched by misery and gloom. 

Who, thinking of times long ago,
Too deep inspects the bleak abyss,
In which from every side persists
Sweet pain that draws him down below,  

It is as if wild treasures lay 
Beneath in heaps for him alone;
And he with breathless breast forayed  
Against their castle ramparts' stone.  

Repulsed and fearful he espies   
His future trapped in dryest dunes; 
Alone, unwell, he roves and swoons, 
And seeks himself in tumult's eye.

I cry and fall into his arms:
I, too, was once like you, it seems.
But I learned much from wicked harm, 
E'en how to find eternal peace.  

You need for comfort, as I too,
A heart that's loved, endured and died; 
Who joyfully put pain aside, 
To perish variedly for you.  

He died, and yet still every day, 
You sense his love, you sense his face; 
Consoled but by thoughts gone astray 
Of him once more in your embrace.   

With him arrives new blood, new life,
In your decaying pile of bone;
And if your heart was his alone, 
So is yours his, bereft of strife.  

What you have loved he will provide;  
What you have lost he since has found: 
Forever will remain so bound, 
What his firm hands choose not to hide.

Thursday
Aug212014

Novalis, "Elegie auf einen Kirchhof"

A poem ("Elegy to a churchyard") by this German writer, inspired by this famous work.  You can read the original here.

O churchyard richer than gold hall, 
More precious still than human binds;
Of noble blood you hide the lines,
Of sinners you conceal the fall. 

Drink now the tears to my loves cried,             
Loves resting here and undisturbed;                      
Wherefore went hours to time's sad swerve,          
That all of us in youth allied?                         

To darkling myrtle comes tears' stain   
Which feeds our love and lets it sprout;                     
So green to gird my wilted brow,          
My sounds, which only rendered pain.           

O churchyard borne by tearful leas,   
Of gloomy boy-lost days a friend, 
D'you often hear my hoarse laments, 
As I'm abandoned choicelessly?

Friday
Aug162013

Novalis, "Letzte Liebe"

A work ("Last love") by this German poet.  You can read the original here.

One final friendly glance as pilgrims part, 
Ere softly shuts past me the orchard gate. 
For love, a true companion's sign, I thank,  
My gladsome heart exposed to happy fate.

Advice just she has given me through life,
All gain is hers if I the good obey,
If tender hearts bewail the rashly split,
If hopes of worldly man with me then fade. 

In sweetest sentiment the child's strength fails,
As Sunday's child stepped in his seventh spring, 
And love's young bosom touch'd with lightest hand, 
Each past enrich'd by female grace shall sing.  

A mother's kiss deblurs a darling's sleep, 
As he first sees and understands her still; 
So too through love the world I first would learn,
Myself learn, and become what lovers will.

What hitherto a game of youth had been, 
Soon turn'd to serious sense; she left me not,
As doubt and care conspir'd in our divide, 
At last came education's end, unsought.

When fate of me a lover made, both free
And certain of an endless joy in me.  

Tuesday
Sep252012

Novalis, "Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren"

One of the most famous works ("When figures and numeric shapes") by this German poet.  You can read the original here.

When figures and numeric shapes,
No longer show us moons or apes;
When those who merely kiss and sing,
Trump scholars taught in everything;
When to free life the world retreats,
And in the world this free heart beats;
When then anew by light and shade,
True clarity will be displayed;
When we in fairy tales and verse,
See history from its first birth;
Then at One secret word's delight,
This whole wrong being will take flight.

Sunday
Aug162009

Novalis, "Wenn alle untreu werden"

A poem ("If all and each became untrue") by this German poet.  You can read the original here.

If all and each became untrue,       
To you my loyalty wouldn't flail;         
That gratitude has not derailed,       
And died amidst the earth's bright hue.
For me does passion bind you near,
As you in pain pass from my side,
Forever does my heart abide
By you in joy, in endless cheer.

So oft am I beset by tears
For you are dead and gone above,
And many souls that you once loved
Have lost the traces of your years.
Impelled by love and love alone,
You did so much and did it well;
And now your waves have ceased to swell
Upon a shore that waits unknown.

You are of truest love divine,
To each as true as e'er before. 
As others your sweet love forswore,
True you remained, in spite of time. 
So is it felt as day recedes
That truest love shall always win;
Cry bitterly and nuzzle in,
Just like a child upon your knee.

You I have felt, you I have sensed,
O do not leave, please do not leave! 
Let me conjoin myself with thee
Forever love's red bow to bend.
Once brothers mine their gazes chart
Anew against the heavens high,
Then sink below to earthly quiet,
And fall to you upon your heart.