An Hoelderlin

Komm herauf,
Blick auf
Mit Deinem irren Auge,
Deiner Jugendschöne,
Deines Kinderherzens
Offnem Nebelgrab.
Komm herauf,
Schwanke hinan den Fusspfad,
Über Herbstgesträuch-Abhang;
Mein Gartenhäuschen,
Komm, es wartet Dein!

Kennst mich? Blickst auf,
Lächelst einmal wieder
Und neigest Deine Stirne,
Die schöne, wahnsinnschwere,
Blickst Lieb und Freude,
Wie wir's fühlen können!

Steige hinan die Treppe,
Öffn' es wieder,
Das windgebrochene Fenster!
Deine Stadt liegt unten,
Und die treuen Weiden
Sind noch grün im Herbst,
Und der Himmel ist noch blau,
Und die lieben Wellen,
Wie einst,
Als Du noch heiter warest.

Du deutest, Stummer?
Freut Dich der Vogel,
Der vom Laub sich schwingt,
Freut Dich der Wind,
Der Lebensmutige,
Kennst Du sie noch,
Deine Natur,
Die immergleiche,
Im freudelosen Lebenswahn?

O, sie ereilt uns
All' uns,
Die starke Notwendigkeit,
Kinder, die am Grasufer
Mit Kieselchen spielen,
Dem Wandeln nachblickend
Des allbeweglichen Stromes,
Kinder ereilt sie,
Die starke Notwendigkeit.

Drückst das Fenster zu,
Blickst in's Buch hinein
Dieser verlornen Jugend,
Hast's in der Hand noch,
Was Deine Wiege war,
Was Dein Grab.

O, Gotteswonn' ist's,
So heiss und allumarmend,
So kindischfordernd;
Zu hangen an ihr,
Der Unerschöpflichen
Zu lieben, zu lieben,
Und zu vergehn in Liebe,
In dieser Schöne
Seeligen Vorgefühls
Zu versinken all!

Stammelst, wirfst's weg
Das Buch,
Es hat Dich verdorben!
Ob der Gewissheit schaudr' ich
Deines heissen
Weissagenden Grams,
Im Sonnenbrand
Ist der zarte Lebenshalm
O, so musst' es werden!
Waerst sonst der schoene Liebling
Der ihr klar in's Auge sah,
Waerst er nicht gewesen.

Wilhelm Waiblinger
To Hoelderlin

Come up here,
Saint of Complaints!
Look up
With your deranged eyes,
With your youthful beauty
With your heart of a child
From an open grave of fog.
Come up here,
Veer over to the footpath,
Across the slope of autumn brush;
My little garden house,
Saint of Complaints,
Come, it awaits you!

Do you know me? You look up,
You smile once again
You tilt your forehead,
Fair and heavy with madness,
You look with love and joy,
Like we can feel it!

Climb the stairs,
Open it again,
That window broken by the wind!
Your town lies below,
And the faithful willows
Are still green in autumn,
And the sky still blue,
And the kindly waves,
Like once they were,
When you were still of good cheer.

You point, Man of Silence?
Does the bird cheer you up
That flies from the bower,
Does the wind cheer you up
The courage-giver,
Do you still remember it,
Your own Nature,
Forever the same,
In your joyless insanity?

O, it comes to us
All of us,
That powerful necessity,
Children, who on the grassy shore
Play with gravel,
Who take note of the change
Of the current that moves all,
It will come to the children,
That powerful necessity.

You push closed the window,
You gaze at the book
Of this lost youth,
You still hold it in your hand,
What was your cradle,
What is your tomb.

O, what divine bliss it is,
So intense and all embracing,
impetuous like a child;
To depend on it,
The Inexhaustible One
To love, to love,
And to vanish in love,
In this beauteous
Blissful anticipation
To be totally submerged!

You stammer, you throw it away
That book,
It has ruined you!
For the certainty
Of your intense
Prophesying grief I shudder,
Burnt by the sun
The tender straw of life
Has ceased to exist,
O, so it had to be! Otherwise
You would be the fair loved one
Who gazed into its eyes,
You would not have been

Translation: Charles L. Cingolani      Copyright © 2019  
Poet Friends of Moerike

Wilhelm Waiblinger
Like many German writers, Waiblinger was the son of a parson. By 1822, when he was eighteen, he too displayed considerable gifts
in the Greek and Latin classics and began to study philosophy and theology at the same Tübingen seminary where Hölderlin had
studied alongside Hegel and Schelling. Waiblinger was ambitious and not lacking in self-belief, but it was the age of Metternich, a
quiet time for geniuses. He began to visit Hölderlin regularly, perhaps drawn by a perceived relationship between the genius and
madness. (Hesse’s “In Pressel’s Garden House” of 1914 charmingly recreates one of their outings.) The visits ceased when
Waiblinger was expelled from the seminary in 1826 for apparently reprehensible conduct. He departed for Rome where he wrote
accounts of Italian sites and a novella called “The British in Rome”, as well as transcribing the notes he had made of his visits to
Hölderlin. Having climbed Etna and contracted malaria in the Pontine marshes, he suffered a lung infection. Eight haemorrhages and
fourteen bloodlettings later, Waiblinger died in Rome in 1830 at the age of twenty-six and was buried near Keats and Shelley in the
Protestant Cemetery. Friedrich Hölderlins Leben, Dichtung und Wahnsinn was published a year later.

    Elizabeth Powers: When Winter Comes
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