Some of course…

Kaethe Kollwitz, Poverty (1893)

My translation of:

Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Some of course…

Some of course must die below
Where the ships’ heavy oars leave traces,
Others live up by the helm,
Know bird flight and the territories of stars.

Some lie always with heavy limbs
At the roots of tangled life,
For others chairs are arranged
Beside the Sibyls, the queens,
And there they sit as if at home,
Light their heads, light their hands.

Yet a shadow falls from those lives
Over onto those of the others,
And the light are bound to the heavy
As to air and earth:

I cannot rid my eyelids
Of quite forgotten races’ weariness,
Nor keep from my startled soul
The silent fall of distant stars.

Many fates weave near mine,
Existence plays them out in mixed hands,
And my share is more than this life’s
Slender flame or slim lyre.

[Hugo von Hofmansthal, 1874-1929. Wrote significant poetry only between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three, then had a language and spiritual crisis described in his famous 1902 A Letter [of Lord Chandos], then wrote only plays and librettos. His own description of his poems: ‘A premonition of blossoming, a shudder of decay, a now, a here and simultaneously a beyond, an immense beyond.’]

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 14, 2010.

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