Summer’s heat and springtime’s mildness,
Conflict and peace alternate here
Wondrously in my heart
In front of the silent divine image;
Angry in the midst of homages,
Shamed, conquered, I have often
Struggled to grasp the woman
Who surpasses my boldest imaginings.
– Friedrich Holderlin
Sweet rest, sweet ecstasy in the grass,
With the aroma of the herbs around me,
Deep current, deep, deeply enraptured current,
When the cloud dissolves into azure
When sweet laughter falls like an illusion
Onto my weary, dizzy head
When a lovely voice murmurs and drips down
Like the lime-tree blossoms onto a grave.
I jumped up and shook myself
Like someone who has just escaped a cataleptic fit,
And dashed along the dark boundary hedges,
Still in doubt whether the star by the ridge of the field
Was really the glow from my bedside lamp
Or the eternal light by the sarcophagus.
– Annette von Droste-Hulshoff
I certainly must admit
That things resembling people appear around me;
That I hear them, yes, that I see them in the flesh
I cannot deny; yet this kingdom of the world
Remains so foreign and hollow to me, that all its turning
Is not sufficient to remove my doubts
Whether being or nonbeing is nosily bustling here,
Whether a world like this even has a soul in its body!
– Clemens Brentano
And the confusion, more and more variegated,
Becomes a magically impetuous river;
Down into the beautiful world
This stream’s greeting lures you.
Joy, the beautiful, credulous child,
Is rocking in the evening breezes:
Where silver is flowing on branches and bushes
You will find the most beautiful girl!
The years pass like clouds
And leave me here alone;
The world has forgotten me,
Then you stepped toward me miraculously
When, to the rustling of the forest,
I sat here lost in thought.
– Joseph von Eichendorff
all selections translated by Stanley Appelbaum