September's here! The sun each morning wakes
a little later, its rays are colder,
and in the shaky mirror of the lake
it glitters tremulous and golden.
Grey vapour shrouds the hilltops, and the dew
drenches the flat lands by the river;
The twisted oak twigs show a yellow hue,
and the red leaves of aspen shiver;
The birds no longer overflow with life,
the forests and the skies have lost their voice.
September's here! The evening of the year
is now upon us. Frost at morning
already spreads its silver filigree
over the fields and hills, and stormy
Aeolus will awaken from his sleep,
driving the flying dust before him,
the wood will toss and roar, its falling leaves
will strew the swampy valley bottom,
and clouds will rise to fill the heavenly dome,
and waters will grow dark in froth and foam.
Farewell, farewell, you brilliant summer skies!
Farewell, farewell to nature's splendour!
The waters gleaming in their golden scales,
the woods with their enchanted murmur!
Oh happy dream of transient summer joys!
The woodmen's axes are disturbing
the echoes in the emaciated groves,
and all too soon the frozen river
will be a mirror for the misty oaks
and hills in their white covering of snow.
And now the villagers will find the time
to gather in their hard-earned harvest;
Hay in the valley is stacked up into piles,
and in the corn the sickle dances.
Over the furrows, once the grain is cleared,
sheaves in stooks stand high and gleaming,
or else they trundle past the empty field
on loaded carts wearily creaking.
The golden summits of the shining ricks
rise up around the peasants' huddled shacks.
The village people celebrate the day!
The barns steam merrily, the chatter
of chains awakes the mill-stones from their sleep,
and noisily they turn and clatter.
Let the cold come! the farmer has saved up
supplies to last him through the winter:
his hut is warm, the bread, the salt, the cup
of beer make welcome all who enter;
without a care his family now can eat
the blessed fruit of work in summer's heat.
And you, a labourer in the field of life,
when you too move into your autumn
and see the blessings of your earthly time
spread out abundantly before you;
when the rich acres ploughed by work and cares
display the profits of your labours,
rewarding you for all the weary years
and you can reap the precious harvest,
gathering the grain of long-considered thought,
tasting the fullness of our human lot, -
will you be rich like the farmer with his spade?
In hope, like him, the seed you scattered,
and you too bathed in golden dreams that showed
your rich rewards far in the future...
Now you behold that day; greet it with pride
and count your painful acquisitions!
Alas, your passions, your dreams, your arduous road
are buried in scorn, and your condition
is the soul's irresistible disgrace,
the sting of disappointment on your face!
Your day has risen; now you can clearly see
the arrogance, the gullibility
of youth, and you have plumbed the yawning sea
of people's madness and hypocrisy.
You, once enthusiasm's faithful friend,
ardently seeking fellow-feeling,
a king of brilliant vapours - in the end
you contemplate a sterile thicket
alone with misery; its mortal groan
is barely muffled by your haughty soul.
But if your indignation's potent cry,
or if a howl of urgent longing
should rise out of the heart's dark misery,
solemn and wild amid the thronging
young boys and girls at their capricious games,
their bones would shake in fear, the infant
would drop its toys and in the midst of play
set up a roar of pain, all gladness
would vanish from its face; humanity
would perish long before death set it free.
Be open-handed then; invite them all
to join the feast, the whole clanjamfry!
Let them all take their places in the hall
around the gold-encrusted table!
What tasty titbits you can offer them!
What a display of dishes gleaming
so variously! But they all taste the same
and like the grave they make us tremble;
sit there alone, perform the funeral rites
for your soul's worldly, transient delights.
Whatever illumination in years to come
may take possession of your fancy,
whatever the last vortex of your thoughts
and feelings may one day give birth to -
let your triumphant and sarcastic mind
suppress your heart's vain tremors
and bridle the unprofitable wind
of late laments. Then see the treasure
you will receive, the greatest gift of life,
experience, which binds the soul in ice.
Or else, in a life-giving surge of grief,
casting aside all earthly visions,
seeing their boundaries, and not far off,
a golden land beyond the darkness,
a place of redress, with a heart renewed
dreaming dreams of benediction,
and hearing those tumultous voices tuned
to hymns of reconciliation,
like harps whose over-lofty harmony
is unintelligible to your human ear, -
before a vindicated Providence
you will bow down, humble and thankful,
with an unbounded hope and with the sense
that you have reached some understanding -
but know, you never will communicate
your vision to your fellow-mortals;
their frivolous souls will not appreciate
true knowledge in society's bustle;
knowledge of mountain peaks or of the deeps
is not for earth, earth has no place for it.
The hurricane goes hurtling through the void,
the forest raises up its voice in anger,
the ocean foams and rages and its mad
breakers explode against the shingle;
so sometimes the dull rabble's idle minds
are woken from their torpid slumber
by the crude voice of commonplace, that finds
a sonorous echo in their blether,
but there will be no echo for the word
that dominates the passions of the world.
What if a star from heaven disappears
into the chasm of nothing, missing
its way, and never finds its place again;
another one replaces it unheeding.
One star the less is nothing to the earth,
our people are too hard of hearing
to spot the distant howling of its death
or see the brightness of a star appearing
new born amid the sisters of the sky
and greeting them with rapturous melody!
Winter draws on, and over the bare earth
impotence stretches with a shiver,
yet furrows overflow with golden ears,
and all the cornfields gaily glitter.
Life and death, want and wealth lie side by side -
all the variety of the year that's vanished
is equalised beneath a snowy shroud
that hides it in indifferent sameness -
thus all things lie before your eyes henceforth,
but you will reap no harvest from the earth.