No Comment, Quotation — October 3, 2010, 6:45 am

Hölderlin – Evening Fantasy

407fried

Vor seiner Hütte ruhig im Schatten sitzt
Der Pflüger, dem Genügsamen raucht sein Herd.
Gastfreundlich tönt dem Wanderer im
Friedlichen Dorfe die Abendglocke.

Wohl kehren itzt die Schiffer zum Hafen auch,
In fernen Städten fröhlich verrauscht des Markts
Geschäftiger Lärm; in stiller Laube
Glänzt das gesellige Mahl den Freunden.

Wohin denn ich? Es leben die Sterblichen
Von Lohn und Arbeit; wechselnd in Müh und Ruh
Ist alles freudig; warum schläft denn
Nimmer nur mir in der Brust der Stachel?

Am Abendhimmel blühet ein Frühling auf;
Unzählig blühen die Rosen, und ruhig scheint
Die goldene Welt; o dorthin nehmt mich,
Purpurne Wolken! und möge droben

In Licht und Luft zerrinnen mir Lieb und Leid’!
Doch, wie verscheucht von törichter Bitte, flieht
Der Zauber; dunkel wird’s und einsam
Unter dem Himmel, wie immer, bin ich -

Komm du nun, sanfter Schlummer! zu viel begehrt
Das Herz; doch endlich Jugend! verglühst du ja,
Du ruhelose, träumerische!
Friedlich und heiter ist dann das Alter.

Before his hut, quietly in the shadows
Sits the ploughman, contentedly, his hearth smoking
The evening bell tolls a welcome
To the peaceful village.

Now the boatmen too turn harbor-ward,
In distant cities the happy sounds
of the marketplace settle down; in quiet greenery
glitters a sociable repast among friends.

Whither shall I go? Mortals live
By labor and wage, alternating labor and rest
And all is happiness; why then is it
That in me alone the thorn allows no repose?

In the evening sky Spring’s bloom opens up;
The roses bloom innumerably and the golden world
Seems at peace; transport me thence,
Purple clouds! And may above

My love and passion melt into light and air! -
But my foolish request causes
The magic to flee; darkness falls and alone
beneath the heavens, as ever, I remain -

Come now, soft sleep! For too much does my heart
Yearn; but in the end, youth smolders too
Restless, dreamy! Then comes
Old age, serene and peaceful.

Friedrich Hölderlin, Abendphantasie (1799) first published in the Britischer Damenkalender und Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1800 (1799) in Sämtliche Werke und Briefe, vol. 1, pp. 237-38 (G. Mieth ed. 1970)(S.H. transl.)

As Julian Young noted in his recent Nietzsche biography, this was one of Nietzsche’s favorite poems and a work which exercised some influence over Nietzsche’s early thought. A wonderful setting of this poem exists by Paul Hindemith, as yet unavailable on YouTube. Listen to Clara Haskil performing Franz Schubert’s Sonata No. 16 in A Minor (DV 845)(1825):

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

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

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

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

United States Canada

  • dd11

    To me, this poem touches the essence of the loneliness one experiences when having an existential crisis

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
Post
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Article
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
Criticism
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

 
“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

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