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:

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

  • dd11

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

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