Friedrich Schiller’ Poem: " The Artists"

Posted: August 21, 2007 in Friedrich Schiller, Poem

translated by Marianna Wertz

How fair, O Man, do you, your palm branch holding
Stand at the century’s unfolding
In proud and noble manhood’s prime
With faculties revealed, with spirit’s fullness
Full earnest mild, in action-wealthy stillness,
The ripest son of time,
Free through reason, strong through law’s measure,
Through meekness great, and rich in treasure,
Which long your breast to you did not disclose,
Nature’s own lord, she glories in your bridle,
Who in a thousand fights assays your mettle
And shining under you from out the wild arose!

Besot with vic’try operose,
Let not the hand be now forgotten,
Which on life’s desolated strand
The whimpering abandoned orphan,
A savage fortune’s booty, found,
The spirit’s future dignity did early
To your young heart in silentness display,
And sullied concupiscence surely
Did from your tender bosom turn away,
The good one, who in lofty duty
Did playfully instruct your youthfulness,
And the elevated virtue’s myst’ry
In easy riddles left for you to guess,
Who, more mature to see him on returning,
In foreign arms her darling one she laid,
O fall not to degenerated yearning
To be her abject serving woman’s maid!
In labor is the bee your master,
In skillfulness the earthworm has your teacher grown,
Your knowledge you do share with spirit minds far vaster,
‘Tis {Art,} O Man, you have alone!

The land which knowledge does reside in
You reached through beauty’s morning gate.
Its higher gleam to now abide in,
The mind on charms must concentrate.
What by the sound of Muses’ singing
With trembling sweet did pierce you through,
A strength unto your bosom bringing
Which to the world-soul lifted you.

What, after many thousand years’ expiring,
An aging reason first did find,
In symbol great and beautiful was lying
Revealed before unto the childlike mind.
To virtue’s love her sweet form has us drafted,
A softer sense did bold depravity restrain
Ere yet a Solon legislation crafted,
Whose languid blooms did slow constrain.
Oh! Ere the thinker’s spirit daring
Had of e’erlasting space conceived,
Who to the starry theater staring,
Ne’er its presentiment perceived?

She, with Orions circling her visage,
To glorify her majesty sublime,
As purer spirits contemplate her image
Consuming, o’er the stars does climb,
Upon her sunny throne upraising,
Urania, so dreadful yet so grand,
Unburdened of her crown ablazing,
Does there–as {Beauty} ‘fore us stand.
The belt of grace ’round her receiving,
That she, as child, the children understand:
What here as Beauty we’re perceiving,
Will first as {Truth} before us come to stand.

When the Creator from out His living presence
All mankind to mortality expelled,
And to the light, a later reappearance
To find on senses’ heavy path compelled,
When all of Heaven’s beings turned from him their faces,
She chose, alone, with man to be,
With the forsaken, banished races,
Magnanimous, in their mortality.
Here she in sloping flight does hover,
Around her love in land of senses’ thrall,
And paints, deceiving as a lover,
Elysium upon his prison wall.

When in this nurse’s arms so tender,
The frail mankind still reposed,
There holy bloodlust stirred up not an ember,
There guiltless blood was not exposed.
The heart, which she directs in gentle binding,
The servile retinue of Duty does disdain,
Her light’s path falling, lovelier but winding,
Onto morality’s sunlighted plain.
They who her service chaste abided
No baser urges tempt, no fates affright,
As under holy power they resided,
Then with pure spirit lives they are united
Again into sweet freedom’s right.

The blissful, whom from millions, to her serving
The purest, she did consecrate,
Within whose breast she deemed her throne deserving
And through whose mouth did mightiness relate,
Whom she selected at e’er-flaming altars
To see her holy fire never falters,
Without a veil appeared she only ‘fore their eye,
Whom she in tender union would ally!
Rejoice then in the honorable standing
Wherein high order has uplifted you:
In the exalted spirit world ’tis true,
You held of man the highest standing.

Till you proportion to the world brought back,
Which serve with joy all things created,
A boundless form, arrayed in evening crepe of black,
Close ’round him here, by feeble beams illuminated,
A shape of troops pugnaciously,
Which held his sense in slav’ry’s bands restrained,
And rough, unsocialized as he,
At him their thousand powers trained,
–So stood creation ‘fore the savage.
Within blind appetite’s complete control,
By mere appearances now bidden,
Flies by him, unenjoyed and ever hidden,
So beautif’ly fair Nature’s soul.

And as she fleeting overhead now stole,
You caught the friendly spirits up in tether
With tender sense, with quiet hand,
And learned how in harmonious band
To bring them socially together.
So lightly floating felt the view
Of slender shapes of cedar cultivated;
The crystal of the billows radiated
The quiv’ring image back to you.
How could you miss the lovely intimation,
With which, benevolent, fair Nature toward you drew?

Then Art, to steal her shadow forth in imitation,
The image swimming on the wave displayed to you.
Her very being parted from her,
A phantom of herself, as dream,
She jumped into the silver stream,
Herself to offer to her robber.
The beaut’ous plastic art awoke within your heart.
Too noble not at rest to be conceiving
In sand, in clay–did you to shadow life impart,
In outline its substantial self receiving.
The sweet desire for action lively woke–
From out your breast the first creation broke.

Held under careful observation
And captured by your watchful view,
The private forms betrayed in revelation
The talisman, which captivated you.
The wonder-working laws, the measure
Of charm’s investigated treasure
In gentle bond were by inventive mind
Into your handiwork combined.
The obelisk and pyramid ascended,
The herm arose, the column sprang on high,
The forest’s melody from reedy pipe flowed by,
And heroes’ deeds in singing never ended.

The sampling of a flow’ry bed
Is bound in nosegay with a sage selection,
And thus did Art from Nature first e’er tread;
Then nosegays were into a wreath wound in collection,
And thus a second, higher Art began
From the creative hand of Man.
The child of Beauty, needing no more,
Perfected as if from your hand departed,
The crown does forfeit, that it wore,
Once actuality’s imparted.
The column must, unto proportion bent,
Close ranks with all its sisters in formation,
To Maenad’s harp in acclamation,
The hero in the hero host is blent.

Soon gathered near barbarians, astounded,
To see the new creations forth they ran.
Look, the delighted crowd resounded,
Look there, all this was done by Man!
As happy and more social pairs abounded,
They seized hold of the singer’s lyre,
Which titans, giant battles celebrated
And lion-slayers, who, while singers did inspire,
From out their hearers heroes had created.
Then, first time, did the mind partake
Of joys more peaceful, reassuring,
Which are but from afar alluring,
Which won’t its creature greed awake,
Which though enjoyed are still enduring.

Now from its carnal sleep did wrestle
The soul, so beautiful and free,
By you unchained sprang forth the vassal
Of care in lap of joy to be.
Now limits of the beast abated
And Man on his unclouded brow rang out,
And thought, that foreign stranger elevated,
From his astonished brain sprang out.
Now {stood} Man, and to starry legions
Displayed his kingly countenance,
Then to these lofty sunlit regions
His thanks conveyed through speaking glance.
Upon his cheek did smiling flower,
His voice, by sentiments now played,
Unfolded into song’s full power,
Emotions moistened eye betrayed,
And jest, with charm in graceful federation,
His lips poured out in animation.

Entombed in instincts worms inherit,
In carnal pleasure full entwined,
You recognized within his mind
The noble seed of loving spirit.
Though love did instinct base inherit,
That better seed from out did bring
He thanks that shepherd first did sing.
Unto thought’s level elevated
Desire more modest then cascaded
Melodic’ly from singer’s mouth.
The cheeks from dew drops softly burning,
The steadfast, unextinguished yearning,
The union of all souls set forth.

The wisdom of the wise, the mild’s mildness,
Nobility’s grace, the strong one’s power
You wed into a single likeness
And placed it into glory’s bower.
The man who ‘fore the unknown trembled,
Its mere reflection came to love;
Great heroes burning he assembled,
To equal that great One above.
From all archtypal Beauty the first ringing
{You} made in Nature to resound in singing.

The passions’ frenzied, wild stress,
The lawless whims of fortune,
The instincts’ and the duties’ press
You set with your acute emotion
On straight-edge to their destination.
What Nature in her great and grand procession
In widespread distances has torn apart,
Becomes in play, in song’s expression
Coherent, easy to impart.
By Furies’ singing much affected,
The murder draws, though not detected,
The fate of death from out their art.
And long ere sages venture with a finding,
An Iliad is fortune’s mysteries unwinding
For young antiquity unfurled;
From Thespis’ chariot descending
Came Providence into the world.

But in the great course of the world
Too early was your symmetry ascending.
When swarthy hand of destiny,
What she before your eye had raveled,
Would not before your eye untie,
Then life to the abyss did fly,
Before full lovely circle traveled–
Then you did draw, with bold, audacious might,
The arc still further into future’s night;
Then hurled yourself and never quivered
Into Avernus’ swarthy ocean wave
And there the life that fled discovered
Beyond the urn, beyond the grave;
And then appeared with torch o’erturned the image
Of blooming Pollux, who on Castor leans so nigh:
The shadow that completes the Moon’s full visage,
Before the silver circle fills on high.

Yet higher still, to ever higher stations
Creative genius soared to be.
One sees already rise creations from creations
From harmonies comes harmony.
What here delights the drunken eye alone,
Is there in service to the higher beauty;
The charms which do this nymph adorn,
In a divine Athena soften gently:
The forces which in wrestler’s muscle rage,
Must seek in godly Beauty silence tender;
The figure proud of Jove, the wonder of his age,
Does in Olympus’ temple homage render.

The world, transformed by labor’s hand,
The human heart, by new impulses greeted,
And exercised in battles heated,
Do your creation’s scope expand.
So Man, now far advanced, on pinions elevated,
With thanks does Art transport on high,
New worlds of beauty are created
From nature richer made thereby.
The bounds of knowledge melt away,
The mind, in your light vic’tries sharpened,
In mere enjoyments quickly ripened
To race through all the artificial powers,
Does set its sights on Nature’s distant towers,
And overtakes her on her dusky way.
He weighs her now with human calculations,
Does gauge with measures she herself has lent;
Much better versed in Beauty’s obligations,
To pass before his eye she now is sent.
In self-contented, youthful joy he raises
In loan unto the spheres his harmony,
The universal edifice he praises
And shows it off as symmetry.

Now everything that he discovers
Does tell him of proportion fair.
Fair Beauty’s golden belt uncovers
In his life’s course her weaving there;
While blest Perfection ‘fore him hovers
In all your works victoriously e’er.
Wherever joy unblemished hurries,
Wherever silent sorrow flees,
Where contemplation thoughtful tarries,
Where tears of misery he sees,
Where thousand frights at him are ‘raying;
Do follow seas of harmony,
He sees the Graces three in playing,
And, his emotions soft-refined displaying,
He strives to join the lovely company.
Soft, as the lines alluring coil together,
As all phenomena around
In softened contour blend in one another
Just so, his life’s light breath is bound.
His spirit melts in Harmony’s great ocean,
Which ’round his senses lustfully now flows
And quietly his thoughts, enraptured, close
On ever-present Cytherea, in devotion.
With destiny in lofty unity,
Sustained in calm on Muses and on Graces,
His friendly breast exposed obligingly,
Is struck as threat’ning arrow races
From gentle bowstring of necessity.

The trusted favorites of blessed Harmony,
Companions who to gladden life have striven,
The noblest and the dearest, those which she,
Who gave us life, that we might live has given!
That man unshackled of his duty now takes heed,
The fetters loves which him do lead,
Not prey to iron scepter of contingency,
{This} thanks you–your eternity,
And a sublime reward is your heart’s treasure.
That ’round the cup in which our freedoms run
The gods of joy do joke with pleasure,
The charming dream is lovely spun,
Embraced for this be, in full measure!
The Spirit glittering and bright,
Who cloaked Necessity with grace, does order
Unto his starry vault, unto his ether,
To serve us graciously and right,
Who in destruction still adorns himself, delights us
With the sublime where he affrights us,
To be like this great Artist seek.
As on the brooklet mirror-sleek
The bright-hued banks a-dancing glimmer
With sunset’s glow and flow’ry field,
So on our barren life does shimmer
The poet’s lively shadow-world.
You have to us, as bride garmented,
The frightening unknown presented,
Our destiny without relent.
Just as your urns the bones do cover,
You put a magic, sweet sheen over
The dreadful sorrow’s choir lament.
Throughout millenia I’ve hurried,
In boundless realm of ages past,
How Mankind laughs where’er you’ve tarried,
How dreary when you’re gone at last.

What once with feathers soaring upward
Full force from your creating hands did climb,
Again itself within your arms discovered,
When silent victory of time
From off his cheeks life’s rosy flower
The strength from out his members stole
And sadly, steps now lacking power,
The old man staggered on his pole.
Then you from fountain freshly rendered
The wave of life to thirsty tendered;
Twice did the epoch gain its youth anew,
Twice from the seed which you yourself did strew.

By savage hordes expatriated,
The last of off’ring brands you snatched away
From Orient’s fair altars desecrated
And brought it to the Occident to stay.
There dawned the lovely fugitive much feted,
The new day, from the East, now in the West,
And on Hesperia’s meadows germinated
Ionia’s renewed and blooming best.
Into men’s souls now cast a Nature fairer
Soft mirroring, a fair reflection bright,
And in these souls bejewelled there came aglitter
To reign the goddess great of light.
One saw the falling of a million shackles,
And for the slaves the rights of men now heard,
As brother peacefully with brother travels,
So mildly has the young mankind matured.
With inner lofty joy inspired
Of fortune’s gift you take your part,
And in humility attired
With silent merit you depart.

If on the paths of thought without obstruction
Now roams th’investigator, fortune bold,
And, drunken with the paeons’ loud eruption,
He reaches rashly for the crown to hold;
If now it is his rash conception
To noble guide dispatch with hireling’s bread,
While by Art’s dreamed-for throne’s erection
The first slave office to permit instead:–
Forgive him–th’crown of all perfection
Does hover bright above your head.
With you, the spring’s first blooming flower,
Fair Nature’s soul-formation first arose,
With you, the harvest’s joyful power,
Does Nature’s self-perfecting close.

Emerged from humble clay, from stoney traces,
Creative Art, with peaceful victories embraces
The mind’s unmeasured, vast domain.
What but discoverers in knowledge’s high places
Can conquer, did for you its conquest gain.
The treasures which the thinker has collected
Will only in your arms first warm his heart,
When science is, by beauty ripened and perfected,
Ennobled to a work of art–
When he up to the hilltop with you sallies
And to his eye, in evening’s shining part,
Is suddenly revealed–the lovely valleys.

The richer satisfied his fleeting vision,
The loftier the orders which the mind
Does fly through in {one} magic union,
Does circumscribe in {one} enjoyment blind;
The wider ope are thoughts and feelings growing
To richer play of harmonies now showing,
To beauty’s more abundant streaming van–
The lovelier the pieces of the universal plan,
Which now, disfigured, tarnish its creation,
He then sees lofty forms bring to perfection.
The lovelier the riddles from the night,
The richer is the world that he embraces,
The broader streams the sea in which he races,
The weaker grows his destiny’s blind might,
The higher are his urges striving,
The smaller he himself, the greater grows his loving.

So lead him, the hidden pathway show
Through ever purer forms, through music clearer,
Through ever higher heights and beauty fuller
Up poetry’s beflowered ladder go–
At last, at epoch’s ripest hour,
Yet one more happy inspiration bright,
The recent age of Man’s poetic flight,
And–he will glide in arms of Truth’s full power.

And she, the gently Cypria,
By fiery crown illuminated,
Before her son-grown-man now elevated,
Unveiled–as Urania;
So much the sooner by him sighted,
The {lovelier,} from her now flown!
Thus sweet, thus happily delighted
Stood once Ulysses’ noble son,
When she, divine, who shared his youth as partner,
Was then transfigured to Jove’s daughter.

The dignity of Man into your hands is given,
Protector be!
It sinks with you! With you it is arisen!
The sacred magic of poetry
A world-plan wise is serving
To th’ocean, steer it e’er unswerving,
Of lofty harmony!

Fair Truth, by her own time rejected,
By Poetry now be protected,
And refuge find in the Muses’ choir.
In highest and abundant splendor,
More fright’ning in her veil of wonder,
Then let her rise aloft in singing
And vengeance win with music ringing
Upon her persecutor’s ear.

You free sons of the freest mother,
Swing upward with a constant face,
And strive then after no crown other,
To highest Beauty’s beaming place.
The sisters who from here departed
In the mother’s lap you soon will see;
What souls of beauty have imparted
Must excellent and perfect be.
Uplift yourselves on wings emboldened
Above your epoch’s course be drawn;
See in your mirror now engoldened
The coming century’s fair dawn.
On thousand twisting pathways chasing,
So rich in multiplicity,
Come forward, then, with arms embracing
Around the throne of unity.
As into gentle beams of seven
Divides the lovely shimmer white,
As also rainbow beams of seven
Dissolve into white beams of light–
So, play in thousandfolded clar’ty,
Enchanted ’round the heady sight,
So flow back in {one} band of ver’ty,
Into {one} single stream of light!

::visit http://www.schillerinstitute.org/transl/translations_main.html

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