No Comment — November 10, 2007, 5:59 am

Hofmannsthal’s ‘Manche freilich. . .’

Manche freilich müssen drunten sterben
wo die schweren Ruder der Schiffe streifen,
andere wohnen bei dem Steuer droben,
kennen Vogelflug und die Länder der Sterne.

Manche liegen mit immer schweren Gliedern
bei den Wurzeln des verworrenen Lebens,
anderen sind die Stühle gerichtet
bei den Sibyllen, den Königinnen,
und da sitzen sie wie zu Hause,
leichten Hauptes und leichter Hände.

Doch ein Schatten fällt von jenen Leben
in die anderen Leben hinüber,
und die leichten sind an die schweren
wie an Luft und Erde gebunden.

Ganz vergessener Völker Müdigkeiten
kann ich nicht abtun von meinen Lidern,
noch weghalten von der erschrockenen Seele
stummes Niederfallen ferner Sterne.

Viele Geschicke weben neben dem meinen,
durcheinander spielt sie all das Dasein,
und mein Teil ist mehr als dieses Lebens
schlanke Flamme oder schmale Leier.

Many will of course have to die down there
Where the heavy oars of the ships sweep
Others reside above near the helm
Aware of the migration of the birds and the lands of the stars.

Many lie always with heavy limbs
At the roots of a life intertwined,
Others have seats prepared for them
With the sibyls, the queens,
And sit there as if at home,
With a giddy head and light hands.

But a shadow falls from those lives
Across and into the others’ lives,
And the light are bound to the heavy
As the air is bound to the earth.

The weariness of peoples quite forgotten
I cannot banish from my eyelids,
Neither can I keep away from my terrified soul
The silent descent of distant stars.

Many fates weave alongside my own,
All are interconnected by a common existence
And my part is more than simply this life’s
Slender flame or narrow lyre.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Manche freilich. . . (1895-96) in: Ausgewählte Werke in zwei Bänden, vol. 1, p. 22 (S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

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.

Subscribe Today