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The Power of Song by Friedrich Schiller

April 13, 2018


A stream of rain from fissured mountains,
It comes with thunder's vehemence,
A shattered peak pursues its fountains,
And oaks beneath it tumble hence;
Amazed, with dread anticipation,
The wanderer listens, and he harks,
He hears the roaring inundation,
Yet knows not, whence its rush embarks;
And so a wave of singing courses
From out of ne'er discovered sources.


In league with dreadful beings fabled,
That calmly weave life's fateful strands,
Who has the singer's spell disabled,
Who can his melodies withstand?
As if with Hermes' staff supernal,
So he commands the heart bestirred,
He dips it in the realms infernal,
He lifts it, dazzling, heavenward
And rocks the scale, 'twixt grave and merry
Where myriad emotions vary.


As if at once, into joy's sphere, it's
Gigantic stride comes instantly,
Mysteriously, like to spirits,
Intrudes a monstrous destiny.
Then bow the great ones of all nations
To the stranger from another world,
The din of idle jubilation
Is stilled, away the masks are hurled,
And 'fore the Truth's triumphal splendor
There flees each work that Lies engender.


Thus roused from all the empty rigors,
Whene'er the call of Song resounds,
A man becomes a soul transfigured,
And enters into holy grounds;
Unto the gods on high he's suited,
Naught earthly draws into his pale,
And every other power is muted,
And no misfortune may assail,
Each wrinkle born of worry dwindles,
Where reigns the magic Song enkindles.


And just as after hopeless yearning,
The bitter pain of years apart,
A child with tears remorseful burning
Will fall upon his mother's heart,
So back to childhood's habitations,
To innocent felicity,
From foreign ways of distant nations
The singing leads the refugee,
Away from frigid rules he races
To faithful Nature's warm embraces.



Original translation by Daniel Platt


Daniel Platt is a translator, poet and musician who resides in Los Angeles. More of his  best translations can be found here.

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