Thursday, March 17, 2005

[Poem] George, Stefan - Secret Germany

Spöknippet came across an english translation of Stefan George's magnificent poem Secret Germany. Even though much of course is lost in the translation it is still published due to the rareness of translations of George's works. As can be felt, not all of its original magic is gone.

Let me stand at your verge,
Chasm, and not be dismayed!

Where irrepressible greed has
Trampled down every inch of
Earth from equator to pole and
Shamelessly wielded relentless
Glare and mastery over
Every nook of the world,

Where in the smothering cells of
Hideous houses, madness
Just has found what will poison
All horizons tomorrow:
Even shepherds in yurtas,
Even nomads in wastes -

Where no more in a stony
Forest valley the she-wolf
- Rugged nurse! - suckles boy twins,
And neither untrodden islands,
Nor a garden of virgins
Dawn to foster the Great,

There in the sorest of trials
Powers below pondered gravely,
Gracious celestials gave their
Ultimate secret: They altered
Laws over matter and founded
Space- a new space in the old . . .

Once down by the southern
Sea I lay on a boulder,
Wrung as lately my kin
Spirit, when breaking through
Olives, the Spook of Noon
With goatee foot flicked me:

'Now that your eyes grew discerning,
Go and find in your sacred
Land primordial soil,
Slumbering lap of fill,
And regions as pathless and dark
As the densest of jungles.'

Pinions of sunny dream,
Carry me close to the depth!

They told me of one who from rock-ridden coast
An instant had seen the Olympian gods
In heavens which split with the light of the dawn,
Whereat his soul was flooded with dread.
He shunned the board where his friends were grouped
And plunged into riotous waters.

In the town where the trivia from everywhere
Are posted on pillars and patches of wall
For people to gape at and hasten on,
No one had eyes for the greater event:
Uncanny through tottering structures and streets
The dangerous prowl of the demon!

In winter he stood in the candle-lit hall,
His shimmering shoulder hidden in folds
The flame on his cheek in the leaves of a wreath,
The god concealed from the stare of fools,
In clear-scented warmth of the winds of spring,
Set foot on flowering courses.

The Listener who knew every person and thing,
Played ball with the stars in a rapturous reel,
The hunter unhunted, yet here he avowed
With stammering lips, his apostle-like form
Transfixed in the gleam of the opaline globe:
'This passes my grasp, I am silenced.'

Then forth from the region of order and peace,
Through sulphurous night a tempest unloosed
The clash and the clamour of savage wars,
The smoulder of worlds in the throes of the end.
And crumbling terrains and shadows unleashed
The silver hooves of the chargers.

I came upon him of the pale-golden hair
Who smilingly lavished serene repose
Wherever he went. He was hailed by us all
The darling of Fortune, but late he confessed
His vigour was drained to give strength to a friend,
His life a sequence of offerings.

I loved him who - my blood in his veins -
Had sung the song only less than the best,
Who idly shattered his lute when he failed
To gain a treasure he once divined,
Who merged with anonymous throngs and bowed
A forehead destined for laurels.

Throughout the country, on roads and in squares,
Wherever I was on the watch, I asked
Omniscient Rumour with hundreds of eyes:
'Have you ever heard of the like?' And he
- Though loth to be startled - replied: 'I heard
Of much - but this is unheard-of''

Let me mount to your height,
Summit, and not be destroyed!

Who shed, who of you brothers
Doubts, unshocked by the warning,
That what you most acclaim, what
Most you value today is
Rank as leaves in the fall-wind,
Doomed to perdition and death!

Only what consecrate earth
Cradles in sheltering sleep
Long in the innermost grooves,
Far from acquisitive hands,
Marvels this day cannot grasp
Are rife with the fate of tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no matter how you try to bring in poems and quotes from other sources, you will never see the problem: those who see teh problem have been told that they might just be seeing it, and even then it has been publicized all over the world. The decision is not in our hands but the approach and way to something like a human word just may be lurking beneath all that covers us now....