Three words hears man of the highest import
Which fly from the mouth of the greatest;
Their sound is lost, the meaning ears abort;
They never console our ailing breast.
The sweetest fruit will forever be lost
So long as we in the mere shadows trust.
As long as he believes the Golden Age
Lay in the brave and noble deeds of yore
The brave and noble will never assuage
What the foe and treacherous implore.
Unless thou from the ether uproot him,
Upon the earth finds he ever new skin.
As long as he believes that Fortune blooms
Only beneath the pure and noble ray,&
Evil’s lush lips will only make her swoon
And earth will never see a peaceful day.
In both such night and day he’ll ceaseless roam
Ever searching for his eternal home.
As long as he believes the truth can stand
‘For the stern logic and the rules of men
Then not the wisest and gentlest hand
Will lift the veil and gain her holy fen.
For thou wilt rapture the soul with but a word,
Though the spirit is not by tempests stirred.
Thus from all these worldly falsehoods be free
And in thy heart let beauty truly glow!
What the ears cannot hear, what eyes can’t see
There lies the truth in its crystalline flow.
It lies not outside on the fools golden shore
It lies in you, from you flows evermore.
Translation © David B. Gosselin
Click here to learn more about the great poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller.