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  • Translation

"Light and Warmth" by Friedrich Schiller

The better soul enters the world

With faith placed in the Good within,

He yearns to see the same unfurled

Without, and vanquish every sin.

So will he ever strive and yearn

To stand by Truth at every turn.

Alas, the littleness that is the world!

How narrow are its winding ways.

He strives among its wayward spheres

To penetrate the worldly haze.

But, coldly searching for reprieve,

Love fades into the distance, to grieve.

Although the Truth burns ever bright,

Its flames sometimes shed less than warmth.

Wise is the one who seeks its light

Without having to lose his heart.

Temper, for sacred happiness,

Your dreamer’s zeal with worldliness.

Translation © David B. Gosselin


Der beßre Mensch tritt in die Welt Mit fröhlichem Vertrauen, Er glaubt, was ihm die Seele schwellt, Auch außer sich zu schauen, Und weiht, von edlem Eifer warm, Der Wahrheit seinen treuen Arm.

Doch alles ist so klein, so eng, Hat er es erst erfahren, Da sucht er in dem Weltgedräng Sich selbst nur zu bewahren, Das Herz in kalter stolzer Ruh Schließt endlich sich der Liebe zu.

Sie geben, ach! nicht immer Glut, Der Wahrheit helle Strahlen. Wohl denen, die des Wissens Gut Nicht mit dem Herzen zahlen! Drum paart, zu eurem schönsten Glück, Mit Schwärmers Ernst des Weltmanns Blick.


Dec 19, 2022

Great translation, David. It flows as naturally as if it were written in English all along.


Dec 19, 2022

Your translation, David, is so good, so rhythmical, it feels as though the poem is not translated at all, which instantly allows the reader to focus on what's being said and the elements of timeless truth that are preserved therein for those who truly care about such things. I especially like the formula for happiness set out in the concluding couplet. It is very wise and very philosophical.

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