Hail to thee, mountain beloved, with thy glittering purple-dyed summit!
Hail to thee also, fair sun, looking so lovingly on!
Thee, too, I hail, thou smiling plain, and ye murmuring lindens,
Ay, and the chorus so glad, cradled on yonder high boughs;
Thee, too, peaceably azure, in infinite measure extending
Round the dusky-hued mount, over the forest so green,—
Round about me, who now from my chamber’s confinement escaping,
And from vain frivolous talk, gladly seek refuge with thee.
Through me to quicken me runs the balsamic stream of thy breezes,
While the energetical light freshens the gaze as it thirsts.
Bright o’er the blooming meadow the changeable colors are gleaming,
But the strife, full of charms, in its own grace melts away
Freely the plain receives me,—with carpet far away reaching,
Over its friendly green wanders the pathway along.
Round me is humming the busy bee, and with pinion uncertain
Hovers the butterfly gay over the trefoil’s red flower.
Fiercely the darts of the sun fall on me,—the zephyr is silent,
Only the song of the lark echoes athwart the clear air.
Now from the neighboring copse comes a roar, and the tops of the alders
Bend low down,—in the wind dances the silvery grass;
Night ambrosial circles me round; in the coolness so fragrant
Greets me a beauteous roof, formed by the beeches’ sweet shade.
In the depths of the wood the landscape suddenly leaves me
And a serpentine path guides up my footsteps on high.
Only by stealth can the light through the leafy trellis of branches
Sparingly pierce, and the blue smilingly peeps through the boughs,
But in a moment the veil is rent, and the opening forest
Suddenly gives back the day’s glittering brightness to me!
Boundlessly seems the distance before my gaze to be stretching,
And in a purple-tinged hill terminates sweetly the world.
Deep at the foot of the mountain, that under me falls away steeply,
Wanders the greenish-hued stream, looking like glass as it flows.
Endlessly under me see I the ether, and endlessly o’er
Giddily look I above, shudderingly look I below,
But between the infinite height and the infinite hollow
Safely the wanderer moves over a well-guarded path.
Smilingly past me are flying the banks all teeming with riches,
And the valley so bright boasts of its industry glad.
See how yonder hedgerows that sever the farmer’s possessions
Have by Demeter been worked into the tapestried plain!
Kindly decree of the law, of the Deity mortal-sustaining,
Since from the brazen world love vanished forever away.
But in freer windings the measured pastures are traversed
(Now swallowed up in the wood, now climbing up to the hills)
By a glimmering streak, the highway that knits lands together;
Over the smooth-flowing stream, quietly glide on the rafts.
Ofttimes resound the bells of the flocks in the fields that seem living,
And the shepherd’s lone song wakens the echo again.
Joyous villages crown the stream, in the copse others vanish,
While from the back of the mount, others plunge wildly below.
Man still lives with the land in neighborly friendship united,
And round his sheltering roof calmly repose still his fields;
Trustingly climbs the vine high over the low-reaching window,
While round the cottage the tree circles its far-stretching boughs.
Happy race of the plain! Not yet awakened to freedom,
Thou and thy pastures with joy share in the limited law;
Bounded thy wishes all are by the harvest’s peaceable circuit,
And thy lifetime is spent e’en as the task of the day!
But what suddenly hides the beauteous view? A strange spirit
Over the still-stranger plain spreads itself quickly afar—
Coyly separates now, what scarce had lovingly mingled,
And ’tis the like that alone joins itself on to the like.
Orders I see depicted; the haughty tribes of the poplars
Marshalled in regular pomp, stately and beauteous appear.
All gives token of rule and choice, and all has its meaning,—
‘Tis this uniform plan points out the Ruler to me.
Brightly the glittering domes in far-away distance proclaim him.
Out of the kernel of rocks rises the city’s high wall.
Into the desert without, the fauns of the forest are driven,
But by devotion is lent life more sublime to the stone.
Man is brought into nearer union with man, and around him
Closer, more actively wakes, swifter moves in him the world.
See! the emulous forces in fiery conflict are kindled,
Much, they effect when they strive, more they effect when they join.
Thousands of hands by one spirit are moved, yet in thousands of bosoms
Beats one heart all alone, by but one feeling inspired—
Beats for their native land, and glows for their ancestors’ precepts;
Here on the well-beloved spot, rest now time-honored bones.
Down from the heavens descends the blessed troop of immortals,
In the bright circle divine making their festal abode;
Granting glorious gifts, they appear: and first of all, Ceres
Offers the gift of the plough, Hermes the anchor brings next,
Bacchus the grape, and Minerva the verdant olive-tree’s branches,
Even his charger of war brings there Poseidon as well.
Mother Cybele yokes to the pole of her chariot the lions,
And through the wide-open door comes as a citizen in.
Sacred stones! ‘Tis from ye that proceed humanity’s founders,
Morals and arts ye sent forth, e’en to the ocean’s far isles.
‘Twas at these friendly gates that the law was spoken by sages;
In their Penates’ defence, heroes rushed out to the fray.
On the high walls appeared the mothers, embracing their infants,
Looking after the march, till the distance ’twas lost.
Then in prayer they threw themselves down at the deities’ altars,
Praying for triumph and fame, praying for your safe return.
Honor and triumph were yours, but naught returned save your glory,
And by a heart-touching stone, told are your valorous deeds.
“Traveller! when thou com’st to Sparta, proclaim to the people
That thou hast seen us lie here, as by the law we were bid.”
Slumber calmly, ye loved ones! for sprinkled o’er by your life-blood,
Flourish the olive-trees there, joyously sprouts the good seed.
In its possessions exulting, industry gladly is kindled.
And from the sedge of the stream smilingly signs the blue god.
Crushingly falls the axe on the tree, the Dryad sighs sadly;
Down from the crest of the mount plunges the thundering load.
Winged by the lever, the stone from the rocky crevice is loosened;
Into the mountain’s abyss boldly the miner descends.
Mulciber’s anvil resounds with the measured stroke of the hammer;
Under the fist’s nervous blow, spurt out the sparks of the steel.
Brilliantly twines the golden flax round the swift-whirling spindles,
Through the strings of the yarn whizzes the shuttle away.
Far in the roads the pilot calls, and the vessels are waiting,
That to the foreigner’s land carry the produce of home;
Others gladly approach with the treasures of far-distant regions,
High on the mast’s lofty head flutters the garland of mirth.
See how yon markets, those centres of life and of gladness, are swarming!
Strange confusion of tongues sounds in the wondering ear.
On to the pile the wealth of the earth is heaped by the merchant,
All that the sun’s scorching rays bring forth on Africa’s soil,
All that Arabia prepares, that the uttermost Thule produces,
High with heart-gladdening stores fills Amalthea her horn.
Fortune wedded to talent gives birth there to children immortal,
Suckled in liberty’s arms, flourish the arts there of joy.
With the image of life the eyes by the sculptor are ravished,
And by the chisel inspired, speaks e’en the sensitive stone.
Skies artificial repose on slender Ionian columns,
And a Pantheon includes all that Olympus contains.
Light as the rainbow’s spring through the air, as the dart from the bowstring,
Leaps the yoke of the bridge over the boisterous stream.
But in his silent chamber the thoughtful sage is projecting
Magical circles, and steals e’en on the spirit that forms,
Proves the force of matter, the hatreds and loves of the magnet,
Follows the tune through the air, follows through ether the ray,
Seeks the familiar law in chance’s miracles dreaded,
Looks for the ne’er-changing pole in the phenomena’s flight.
Bodies and voices are lent by writing to thought ever silent,
Over the centuries’ stream bears it the eloquent page.
Then to the wondering gaze dissolves the cloud of the fancy,
And the vain phantoms of night yield to the dawning of day.
Man now breaks through his fetters, the happy one! Oh, let him never
Break from the bridle of shame, when from fear’s fetters he breaks
Freedom! is reason’s cry,—ay, freedom! The wild raging passions
Eagerly cast off the bonds Nature divine had imposed.
Ah! in the tempest the anchors break loose, that warningly held him
On to the shore, and the stream tears him along in its flood,—
Into infinity whirls him,—the coasts soon vanish before him,
High on the mountainous waves rocks all-dismasted the bark;
Under the clouds are hid the steadfast stars of the chariot,
Naught now remains,—in the breast even the god goes astray.
Truth disappears from language, from life all faith and all honor
Vanish, and even the oath is but a lie on the lips.
Into the heart’s most trusty bond, and into love’s secrets,
Presses the sycophant base, tearing the friend from the friend.
Treason on innocence leers, with looks that seek to devour,
And the fell slanderer’s tooth kills with its poisonous bite.
In the dishonored bosom, thought is now venal, and love, too,
Scatters abroad to the winds, feelings once god-like and free.
All thy holy symbols, O truth, deceit has adopted,
And has e’en dared to pollute Nature’s own voices so fair,
That the craving heart in the tumult of gladness discovers;
True sensations are now mute and can scarcely be heard.
Justice boasts at the tribune, and harmony vaunts in the cottage,
While the ghost of the law stands at the throne of the king.
Years together, ay, centuries long, may the mummy continue,
And the deception endure, apeing the fulness of life.
Until Nature awakes, and with hands all-brazen and heavy
‘Gainst the hollow-formed pile time and necessity strikes.
Like a tigress, who, bursting the massive grating iron,
Of her Numidian wood suddenly, fearfully thinks,—
So with the fury of crime and anguish, humanity rises
Hoping nature, long-lost in the town’s ashes, to find.
Oh then open, ye walls, and set the captive at freedom
To the long desolate plains let him in safety return!
But where am I? The path is now hid, declivities rugged
Bar, with their wide-yawning gulfs, progress before and behind.
Now far behind me is left the gardens’ and hedges’ sure escort,
Every trace of man’s hand also remains far behind.
Only the matter I see piled up, whence life has its issue,
And the raw mass of basalt waits for a fashioning hand.
Down through its channel of rock the torrent roaringly rushes,
Angrily forcing a path under the roots of the trees.
All is here wild and fearfully desolate. Naught but the eagle
Hangs in the lone realms of air, knitting the world to the clouds.
Not one zephyr on soaring pinion conveys to my hearing
Echoes, however remote, marking man’s pleasures and pains.
Am I in truth, then, alone? Within thine arms, on thy bosom,
Nature, I lie once again!—Ah, and ’twas only a dream
That assailed me with horrors so fearful; with life’s dreaded phantom,
And with the down-rushing vale, vanished the gloomy one too.
Purer my life I receive again from thine altar unsullied,—
Purer receive the bright glow felt by my youth’s hopeful days.
Ever the will is changing its aim and its rule, while forever,
In a still varying form, actions revolve round themselves.
But in enduring youth, in beauty ever renewing.
Kindly Nature, with grace thou dost revere the old law!
Ever the same, for the man in thy faithful hands thou preservest
That which the child in its sport, that which the youth lent to thee;
At the same breast thou dost suckle the ceaselessly-varying ages;
Under the same azure vault, over the same verdant earth,
Races, near and remote, in harmony wander together,
See, even Homer’s own sun looks on us, too, with a smile!
(Friedrich von Schiller)
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Based on Keywords: sparta, freshens, dishonored, vaunts, confinement, hatreds, yokes, brilliantly, demeter, pantheon, coyly