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Master, without your compassion
I must despair in the abyss
Do you not want to carry me
With strong arms back to the light?
With each year your goodness
Reaches into the earth and into men’s hearts
With each year you arouse the blooms,
And your arouse in me the old pains.
Born but once to the light,
But dead a thousand times,
I am lost without you
Without you I am spoiled in myself.
When the earth moves thus,
When the air waves sunnily,
Then the flow is moved as well,
Which stands in a funereal shroud.
And in my heart shudders
A sorrowful, bitter fountain
If the springtime lurks outside,
Then a flood of anxieties will run against me.
Woe! Through poisonous earthly premises
As time flows into them,
I have sunk the shafts
And he is but weakly condemned.
As the springs now swell about us,
As the ground bring forth about us,
The poisonous waves break upon us,
Which compel no curse, no wit.
I call to others, swimming, swimming,
But no such call can be good for me,
For in me rises the grim Deluge,
Surging from my eyes.
And then they all seemed evil growths
To me, all these bright lambs,
Which I greeted, sweet fruits,
Which ripened to me into bitter bile.
Lord, take pity upon me,
Make my heart bloom anew,
No one has taken pity upon me
From the springtimes of the earth.
Master, if all hands approach
You with sweet-filled peelings,
Then I will never pay my debt
To you with a bitter donation.
Oh, how I rake more deeply,
How I create and wine,
Never shall I flush the torrent
Into the firm and pure foundation of crystal.
The walls always collapse upon me,
Every stratum lies to me,
And hands bloodied by work
Burn in the bitter swells.
Woe! The space grows tighter,
Wilder and more deserted grow the waves,
Lord, oh lord, I can sustain it no longer,
Strike your rainbow.
Lord, I plea to you, spare me,
Lord! I heard it recently said,
Wondrous salvation resides
In your floresence.
And so I cry to you,
I cry from the bitterest depths,
Can you not then forgive that
Your servant so audaciously ripens.
That the source of light again
Flows pure and holy in me
One drop trickles down
From Jesus, to me, to your bloom!
–Clemens Brentano, Frühlingsschrei eines Knechtes aus der Tiefe in Brentanos Werke, vol. 1, p. 329-335 (Carl Hanser ed. 1968)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”