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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.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Average number of days an oiled seabird survives in the wild after cleaning and release:
Epilepsy drugs can extend the life of worms by 50 percent.
A deaf dog belonging to a deaf owner was shot and killed in Alabama, and an Indiana dog’s skin troubles were found to be caused by an allergy to humans. “It’s just not his fault,” said the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”