May 17, 2013

Friedrich Hölderlin - Sung Beneath the Alps


Source: Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin. Translated by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover. 2008. Omnidawn Publishing: Richmond, California. Pg. 141-43.

Friedrich Hölderlin - Sung Beneath the Alps

Holy innocence, that men and gods
Love the most! either inside the house
Or out of doors, you sit at the feet
                           Of the ancients,

Always full of contented wisdom; for man knows
Much that’s good, but astonished as the animals
He looks toward heaven, but how pure everything is
                           To you, Pure One!

Look! The rough beast of the field gladly
Serves and trusts you, the voiceless forest
Speaks to you of the ancients, the mountains
                            Teach you

Holy laws, and even now what the Great Father
Wants to name for us, who have
Much experience, only you can clarify
                             And brighten.

To be alone with the gods, and when
The light passes over, and wind and flood, and
When time hurries to its place, you have a steady
                            Eye for them,

Nothing is holier that I know and want,
As long as the flood doesn’t take me, like
The willows, well cared for, sleeping as I must
                          On the waves;

He who holds divine things in his heart
Will gladly stay home, however, and I'll be free,
As long as needed, to translate and sing
                             In the tongues of heaven.