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  • Translation

The Proverbs of Confucius by Friedrich Schiller


Time unfolds in a three-fold way:

The future stalks us cautiously,

The now like lightning bolts departs,

The past forever-still remains.

Impatience never hurries Time

On its way, if it delays.

Neither fear nor doubt impedes it

In its course when it makes its way.

No remorse or magic saying

Can move the motionless.

If you wish to capture life’s joys

With true wisdom and delight,

Then heed the slow and steady one—

And never treat him as a fool.

Do not befriend the fleeting,

Or treat the constant as your foe.


Threefold is the shape of space:

Its never-ending length strives

Ceaselessly; into the distance

Endlessly outpours its breadth,

Bottomless remains its depth.

Let it then serve as a model:

Always keep on going forward;

Neither idle nor retire,

If you long for perfection;

Always extend yourself broadly,

If you long to know Earth’s wonders.

You must plunge into the deep,

If the essence is what you seek.

Persistence leads to the goal,

Clarity is found in abundance,

The truth lies in the depths.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Learn more about Friedrich Schiller here.

1 Comment

Feb 15

I am so glad to have found this site, and am very excited to be able to wander back through the weeks and find gems such as this, and know there can only be more joys to find. I merely dabble with reading German, but slowly reading through this translation shows the craft of a great poet clearly. Wonderful!

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