Sunday, December 23

Ariadne's Lament

Who will warm me, who loves me still?
Give warm hands!
Give the heart's brazier!
Prone, shuddering
Like one half dead, whose feet are warmed;
Shaken, alas! by unknown fevers,
Trembling at pointed arrows of glacial frost,
Hunted by you, Thought!
Nameless! Cloaked! Horrid!
You hunter behind clouds!
Struck down by your lightning,
Your scornful eye, glaring at me out of the dark!
Thus I lie,
Writhing, twisted, tormented
By all the eternal afflictions,
Struck
By you, cruelest hunter,
You unknown—god ...

Strike deeper!
Strike one more time!
Stab, break this heart!
Why all this affliction
With blunt-toothed arrows?
How can you gaze evermore,
Unweary of human agony,
With the spiteful lightning eyes of gods?
You do not wish to kill,
Only to torment, torment?
Why torment—me,
You spiteful unknown god?

Aha!
You creep closer
Around midnight? ...
What do you want?
Speak!
You push me, press upon me,
Ah, already much too close!
You hear me breathing,
You eavesdrop on my heart,
Most jealous one! —
What are you jealous of anyway?
Away! Away!
What's the ladder for?
Do you want inside,
Would you get into my heart,
And enter
My most secret thoughts?
Shameless one! Unknown! Thief!
What do you wish to steal for yourself?
What do you wish to hear for yourself?
What will you gain by torture,
You torturer!
You—executioner-god!
Or am I, like a dog,
To wallow before you?
Devoted, eager due to my
Love for you—fawning over you?
In vain!
It stabs again!
Cruelest sting!
I am not your dog, only your prey,
Cruelest hunter!
Your proudest prisoner,
You robber behind clouds ...
Speak finally!
You, cloaked by lightning! Unknown! Speak!
What do you want, highwayman, from—me?...

What?
A ransom?
What do you want for ransom?
Demand much—so advises my pride!
And talk little—my pride advises as well!

Aha!
Me?—you want me?
Me—all of me? ...

Aha!
And tormenting me, fool that you are,
You wrack my pride?
Give me love—who warms me still?
Who loves me still?
Give warm hands,
Give the heart's brazier,
Give me, the loneliest one,
Ice, alas! whom ice sevenfold
Has taught to yearn for enemies,
Even for my enemies
Give, yes, surrender to me,
Cruelest enemy —
Yourself! ...

Gone!
He has fled,
My only companion,
My splendid enemy,
My unknown,
My executioner-god! ...

No!
Come back!
With all your afflictions!
All my tears gush forth
To you they stream
And the last flames of my heart
Glow for you.
Oh, come back,
My unknown god! my pain!
My ultimate happiness! ....
(Dionysus Dithyrambs VII)

Saturday, December 22

Partir, c'est mourir un peu

Yet i feel as if it were scarcely yesterday, that magical evening when the holy stranger first encountered me, when he, like a mourning genius, shone into the shadows of the forest where the carefree maiden sat in the dream of youth – in the May air he came, in Ionia’s magical May air, and it made him bloom more for me, it waved his hair, opened his lip like flowers, dissolved melancholy in smiles, and O you rays of heaven! how you shone upon me from those eyes, from those intoxicating wellsprings where, in the shadow of sheltering arches, eternal life shimmers and surges! –
Good gods! how beautiful he became with his gaze upon me! how the whole youth, grown a span taller, stood there in easy vigor but for his dear arms that sank down humbly as if they were nothing! And then how he looked up in enchantment, as if i had flown towards the heavens and were no longer there, O! How he then smiled and blushed in all the grace of his heart when he again became aware of me and his Phoebes eye shone through the darkening tears to ask: is it you? is it really you?
And why did he encounter me so piously, so full of dear superstition? Why did he first bow his head, why was the divine youth so full of longing and mourning? His genius was too blessed to remain alone, and the world too poor to comprehend him. O it was a dear image, woven of greatness and suffering! But now it is different! The suffering is over! He has been given something to do, he is the sick man no longer! –
I was full of sighs when i began to write to you, my beloved! Now i am full of pure joy. Thus one speaks of you and becomes happy. And see! so shall it also remain. Farewell!
(Hyperion. Holderlin.)

Friday, December 7

Dioscuri: One Was Mortal, The Other Immortal

Tomorrow i will be with Alabanda. It is a pleasure to ask the way to Koroni, and i ask more often than necessary. I would happily take the wings of the sun and fly to him, but i also so gladly linger and ask: How will he be?
The kingly youth! Why was i born later? Why did i not spring from one cradle with him? I cannot bear the difference between us. O why did i live like an idle shepherd boy in Tina, and did not dream of the likes of him until he already tested nature in living work and already struggled with sea and air and all the elements? was not the impulse to the joy of deeds in me too?
But i will catch up with him, i will be swift. By heaven! i am over-ripe for work. My soul will rage only against itself if i do not soon  liberate myself through a living task.
Exalted maiden! How could i measure up before you? How was it possible for you to love such a deedless being?
(Hyperion. Holderlin.)

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...