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Nänie by Friedrich Schiller

 

Even the beautiful must perish; it sways the gods, and rules mankind!
  Yet it does not move the iron breast of the Stygean Zeus.
Only once did love soften the heart of the ruler of shadows,
  And just on the threshold, he stiffened, and sternly withdrew his gift.
Not for Aphrodite to stanch the wounds of the lovely stripling,
  Torn in his delicate side by the terrible rage of the boar.
No, the immortal mother cannot save her godlike hero
  When he, at the Scaean gate falling, fulfills his unbending fate.
But she rises up out of ocean with all of Nereus’ daughters,
  And raises lament to the heavens for her so exalted son.
See! how the gods are weeping, the goddesses all are crying,
  Because the beautiful passes, because what is perfect, dies.
Even to be a song of sorrow on beloved lips is glorious,
  For the common goes down to Orcus without a single sound.

 

Translation by Paul Gallagher

 

For a discussion on the significance and meaning of this poem see here.

 

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