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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:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
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.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount the inventor of the yellow “smiley face” had received for it by the time of his death in April:
An astrophysicist observed that the early universe looked like vegetable soup.
In North Korea, a missile capable of striking U.S. bases overseas blew up immediately after a test launch, and in North Carolina, a G.O.P. headquarters was firebombed.
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“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.'”