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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):
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“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.”