No Comment — March 12, 2008, 6:39 am

Kraus – The Perpetual Peace

appiani-olympus

“Bei dem traurigen Anblick nicht sowohl der Übel, die das menschliche Geschlecht
aus Naturursachen drücken, als vielmehr derjenigen, welche die Menschen sich
untereinander selbst anthun, erheitert sich doch das Gemüth durch die Aussicht,
es könne künftighin besser werden; und zwar mit uneigennützigem Wohlwollen,
wenn wir längst im Grabe sein und die Früchte, die wir zum Teil selbst gesät haben,
nicht einernten werden.”

Nie las ein Blick, von Thränen übermannt,
ein Wort wie dieses von Immanuel Kant.

Bei Gott, kein Trost des Himmels übertrifft
die heilige Hoffnung dieser Grabesschrift.

Dies Grab ist ein erhabener Verzicht:
“Mir wird es finster, und es werde Licht!”

Für alles Werden, das am Menschsein krankt,
stirbt der Unsterbliche. Er glaubt und dankt.

Ihm hellt den Abschied von dem dunklen Tag,
daß dir noch einst die Sonne scheinen mag.

Durchs Höllentor des Heute und Hienieden
vertrauend träumt er hin zum ewigen Frieden.

Er sagt es, und die Welt ist wieder wahr,
und Gottes Herz erschließt sich mit “und zwar”.

Urkundlich wird es; nimmt der Glaube Teil,
so widerfährt euch das verheißne Heil.

O rettet aus dem Unheil euch zum Geist,
der euch aus euch die guten Wege weist!

Welch eine Menschheit! Welch ein hehrer Hirt!
Weh dem, den der Entsager nicht beirrt!

Weh, wenn im deutschen Wahn die Welt verschlief
das letzte deutsche Wunder, das sie rief!

Bis an die Sterne reichte einst ein Zwerg.
Sein irdisch Reich war nur ein Königsberg.

Doch über jedes Königs Burg und Wahn
schritt eines Weltalls treuer Untertan.

Sein Wort gebietet über Schwert und Macht
und seine Bürgschaft löst aus Schuld und Nacht.

Und seines Herzens heiliger Morgenröte
Blutschande weicht: daß Mensch den Menschen töte.

Im Weltbrand bleibt das Wort ihr eingebrannt:
Zum ewigen Frieden von Immanuel Kant!


“In the sad contemplation not just of the evils which bear upon the human species by force of nature, but much more of those which humans do to one another, the spirit is nevertheless cheered by the prospect that it might become better in the future; and indeed with selfless goodwill, for we will be long in the grave before the opportunity arises to harvest any of the fruits which we in part may have sown.”

Overwhelmed by tears, but never before glanced,
Such words as these by Immanuel Kant.

By God, no comfort of the heavens surmounts
The divine hope of this memorial.

This grave is a sublime renunciation
“It grows dark about me, let there be light!”

For all the possibilities that depreciate human life,
The immortal dies. He believes and thanks.

The farewell from a darkening day lights the horizon
So that the sun may shine for you again.

Through the gates of Hell of today and beyond
He dreams trusting in a perpetual peace.

He says it and the world is true again
And God’s heart opens up again with “and yet…”

It is documented, share the faith
So the promised salvation will come to you.

Oh save yourself from the calamity, hasten to the
Spirit that will bring you through yourself to the proper course.

Oh what humanity! What a sublime shepherd!
Woe to him who does not divert the failure.

Woe, when in the world falls into a German stupor,
The last German wonder that she summons!

To the stars reached once a dwarf
His earthly realm was merely Königsberg.

Yet over every king’s fortress and mania
Strode the universe’s most devoted servant.

His word commands sword and might
And his pledge frees us from sin and night.

And the holy dawn of his heart
Stays the incest: that one man kill another.

In the world’s flames may this phrase be seared:
Towards a Perpetual Peace by Immanuel Kant.

Karl Kraus, Zum ewigen Frieden von Immanuel Kant (1920) first published in Ausgewählte Gedichte, pp. 70-71 (S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2016

The Origins of Speech

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Verse

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Sigh and a Salute

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Prose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Don the Realtor

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Atlas Aggregated

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Martin Amis on the rise of Trump, Tom Wolfe on the origins of speech, Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen, fiction by Diane Williams, and more

In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Don the Realtor·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"If you have ever wondered what it’s like, being a young and avaricious teetotal German-American philistine on the make in Manhattan, then your curiosity will be quenched by The Art of the Deal."
Photograph (detail) © Polly Borland/Exclusive by Getty Images
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News
Article
A Sigh and a Salute·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
Artwork (detail) by Si Lewen
Article
El Bloqueo·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
Photograph (detail) by Rose Marie Cromwell

Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead:

1/4

Honeybees can recognize individual human faces.

Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today