No Comment — March 20, 2008, 8:59 pm

Droste-Hülshoff – On Maundy Thursday

fusswaschung-1475

O Wundernacht, ich grüße!
Herr Jesus wäscht die Füße.
Die Luft ganz stille stand;
Man hört den Atem hallen
Und wie die Tropfen fallen
Von seiner heil’gen Hand.

Da Jesus sich tut beugen,
Ins tiefe Meer sich neigen
Wohl Inseln diesem Gruß.
Ist er so tief gestiegen,
So muß ich ewig liegen
Vor meines Nächsten Fuß.

Herr, ob sich gleich betöret
Die Seele mein empöret
Vor aller Niedrigkeit,
Daß ich vielmehr mein Leben
In Qualen aufzugeben
Für deinen Ruhm bereit:

So gib, daß ich nicht klage,
Wenn du in meine Tage
Hast alle Schmach gebannt;
Laß brennen meine Wunden,
So du mich stark befunden
Zu solchem harten Stand!

O Gott, ich kann nicht bergen,
Wie angst mir von den Schergen,
Die du vielleicht gesandt
In Krankheit oder Grämen
Die Sinne mir zu nehmen,
Zu töten den Verstand!

Es ist mir oft zu Sinnen,
Als wolle schon beginnen
Dein schweres Strafgericht;
Als dämmre eine Wolke,
Doch unbewußt dem Volke,
Um meines Geistes Licht.

Doch wie die Schmerzen schwinden,
Die mein Gehirn entzünden,
So flieht der Nebelduft,
Und mit geheimem Glühen
Fühl’ ich mich neu umziehen
Die frische starke Luft.

Mein Jesu, darf ich wählen,
Ich will mich lieber quälen
In aller Schmach und Leid,
Als daß mir so benommen,
Ob auch zu meinem Frommen,
Die Menschenherrlichkeit.

Doch ist er so vergiftet,
Daß es Vernichtung stiftet,
Wenn er mein Herz umfleußt:
So laß mich ihn verlieren,
Die Seele heimzuführen,
Den reichbegabten Geist.

Hast du es denn beschlossen,
Daß ich soll ausgegossen
Ein tot Gewässer stehn
Für dieses ganze Leben:
So will ich denn mit Beben
An deine Prüfung gehn.


Night of wonders, I greet you.
Lord Jesus washes the feet.
The air stands still,
One hears the clanging of breath
And the drops which fall
From his holy hand.

Then Jesus takes a bow
Deep into the sea islands
Must slope to this greeting.
As deep as he has climbed
So must I lie eternally
Before the feet of my neighbor.

Lord, though it may be infatuation,
Still my soul rises
Before all pettiness,
I am indeed prepared to
Surrender my life in torment
To further your glory:

So that I not complain,
Provide in my own time
That all taint be dismissed;
Let my wounds burn,
That you find me strong and ready
For such difficult conditions.

God, I cannot conceal
The dread I have of the henchmen,
Who you perhaps have dispatched
In sickness or in grief
To rob me of my sense,
To kill my reason!

I sense often that the
Time has come for your
Strict day of judgment;
As if a cloud dimmed
The light of my spirit,
Yet unbeknownst to the people.

Yet as the pains that
Inflame my head disappear,
The scent of fog lifts,
And with secret radiance,
I feel myself surrounded
With the fresh, strong air.

My Jesus, may I choose,
I would rather torment myself,
With all stigma and pain,
Rather than be seized of
Human grandeur,
Be it yet pious.

Still, he is so poisoned,
That he spreads destruction,
When he embraces my heart;
So let me lose him,
To lead the soul home,
To the richly talented guest.

Have you then resolved
That I be poured out
Standing as a still water
For the entirety of this life:
Then shivering I will go
To this your test.

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Am Grünendonnerstag (1820) in Sämtliche Werke, pp. 517-18 (C. Heselhaus ed. 1966)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

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

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing:

1:1

A German scientist was testing an anti-stupidity pill.

A Twitter spokesperson conceded that a “Frat House”–themed office party “was in poor taste at best.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“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.”

Subscribe Today