To a Young Friend (As He Dedicates Himself to Philosophy) by Friedrich Schiller
The young Greek had to vanquish many daring trials
Before he could be welcomed in the Eleusian house.
Are you matured enough to enter the temple
Where Pallas Athene secures the greatest wealth?
Are you aware of what awaits you there, how dear
The prize? That for uncertain greatness you pay with what’s sure?
Do you feel strong enough to fight the greatest war,
When reason and your heart, both sense and thought, may part?
Or strong enough to battle doubt, the Hydra stern,
With manliness to beat the enemy inside?
With the shrewdest of eyes and most innocent of hearts
To unmask the deceit which tempts you as the truth?
Escape, if you don’t trust the leadership within!
Escape from the abyss, before you lose yourself!
Many have sought the light but fallen into night,
There in the twilight glow lies truth, childlike, secure.
Translation © David B. Gosselin