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Friedrich Schiller 1759 (Marbach am Neckar) – 1805 (Weimar)
Yes! even I was in Arcadia born,
And, in mine infant ears,
A vow of rapture was by Nature sworn;-
Yes! even I was in Arcadia born,
And yet my short spring gave me only-tears!
Once blooms, and only once, life's youthful May;
For me its bloom hath gone.
The silent God-O brethren, weep to-day-
The silent God hath quenched my torch's ray,
And the vain dream hath flown.
Upon thy darksome bridge, Eternity,
I stand e'en now, dread thought!
Take, then, these joy-credentials back from me!
Unopened I return them now to thee,
Of happiness, alas, know naught!
Before Thy throne my mournful cries I vent,
Thou Judge, concealed from view!
To yonder star a joyous saying went
With judgment's scales to rule us thou art sent,
And call'st thyself Requiter, too!
Here,-say they,-terrors on the bad alight,
And joys to greet the virtuous spring.
The bosom's windings thou'lt expose to sight,
Riddle of Providence wilt solve aright,
And reckon with the suffering!
Here to the exile be a home outspread,
Here end the meek man's thorny path of strife!
A godlike child, whose name was Truth, they said,
Known but to few, from whom the many fled,
Restrained the ardent bridle of my life.
'It shall be thine another life to live,-
Thy youth to me surrender!
To thee this surety only can I give'-
I took the surety in that life to live;
And gave to her each youthful joy so tender.
'Give me the woman precious to thy heart,
Give up to me thy Laura!
Beyond the grave will usury pay the smart.'-
I wept aloud, and from my bleeding heart
With resignation tore her.
'The obligation's drawn upon the dead!'
Thus laughed the world in scorn;
'The lying one, in league with despots dread,
For truth, a phantom palmed on thee instead,
Thou'lt be no more, when once this dream has gone!'
Shamelessly scoffed the mockers' serpent-band
'A dream that but prescription can admit
Dost dread? Where now thy God's protecting hand,
(The sick world's Saviour with such cunning planned),
Borrowed by human need of human wit?'
'What future is't that graves to us reveal?
What the eternity of thy discourse?
Honored because dark veils its form conceal,
The giant-shadows of the awe we feel,
Viewed in the hollow mirror of remorse!'
'An image false of shapes of living mould,
(Time's very mummy, she!)
Whom only Hope's sweet balm hath power to hold
Within the chambers of the grave so cold,-
Thy fever calls this immortality!'
'For empty hopes,-corruption gives the lie-
Didst thou exchange what thou hadst surely done?
Six thousand years sped death in silence by,-
His corpse from out the grave e'er mounted high,
That mention made of the Requiting One?'
I saw time fly to reach thy distant shore,
I saw fair Nature lie
A shrivelled corpse behind him evermore,-
No dead from out the grave then sought to soar
Yet in that Oath divine still trusted I.
My ev'ry joy to thee I've sacrificed,
I throw me now before thy judgment-throne;
The many's scorn with boldness I've despised,-
Only-thy gifts by me were ever prized,-
I ask my wages now, Requiting One!
'With equal love I love each child of mine!'
A genius hid from sight exclaimed.
'Two flowers,' he cried, 'ye mortals, mark the sign,-
Two flowers to greet the Searcher wise entwine,-
Hope and Enjoyment they are named.'
'Who of these flowers plucks one, let him ne'er yearn
To touch the other sister's bloom.
Let him enjoy, who has no faith; eterne
As earth, this truth!-Abstain, who faith can learn!
The world's long story is the world's own doom.'
'Hope thou hast felt,-thy wages, then, are paid;
Thy faith 'twas formed the rapture pledged to thee.
Thou might'st have of the wise inquiry made,-
The minutes thou neglectest, as they fade,
Are given back by no eternity!'
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