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Two Fates

Wise Providence gave our perception

The choice between two different fates:

Either blind hope and agitation,

Or hopelessness and deadly rest.

Let him trust to seductive hopes,

Who's sure with his unpracticed mind,

Who knows mocking fortunes slopes,

Only through rumour, spread behind.

Have hope, young people, brave and ardent!

Fly with your pairs of strongest wings;

For you the projects, great and sudden,

And young heart's ever burning dreams!

But you, who've now tried and measured

All humane fate, deep grief and strife,

And vanity of humane pleasure -

Who doomed to knowledge of the life!

Away with those crowds tempting!

In quiet peace, live your days, last,

And guard the coldness, safely saving

Your now apathetic heart.

Just like the dry dead peoples' corpses,

Which blessed with senseless of disease,

Waked up by spells of lords of forests,

Rise from their graves, gnashing their teeth,

So you, if kindle in hearts desire

And trust to the deceptive moods,

Will be awaked only for mire,

For fresh pain of the former wounds.


I am of the race of spirits,

But do not abide in Heaven's realm,

And whenever I attain the clouds,

Strength fails me and I fall.

Heaven lies beyond these waves, I know,

So I rush about, a winged sigh,

'Twixt the earth and sky

I adore the shining sun!

In the heights I frolic

'midst its vivifying rays.

I caress them like a cloudlet

With my playful wings;

I am free and light,

Gaily the thin air I drink,

Like a chirping bird I sing.

Foul weather soon comes nigh

Blowing earthly dust and leaves,

High up to the very clouds,

Dimming heaven's vault:

Poor spirit! Irrelevant spirit!

Fateful, stormy whirling

Like a feather throws me high

'neath the thundering sky.

Roaring tempest, whistling tempest!

Icy whirlwind, fiery whirlwind!

I am battered by leaves,

Choke on whirling dust!

Whether heavenward I turn,

Whether earthwards I look back -

Both are terrible and drear;

And I cry out in despair.

Muffled roars betimes of warring

Peoples fill my ears,

And the cries of carefree peasants

Crushed by horrible campaigns,

War's commotion, passions' wails,

And a sickly child's cry…

From my eyes flow streams of tears:

And I pity earthly creatures.

Tortured by the pangs of yearning

I dash about the heavenly fields

The fields above me while below me -

Limitless-over-small for sorrow!

Cloaked by cloud rush,

Alien to the earthly sphere,

While the storm's voice overwhelms

Sorrowing voices of the human realm.

I descry the world in darkness:

As I heed the faint vibration

Of celestial harps…On earth

I brought back to life a premature child.

Never having lived, he left:

Fateful transience!

Your abundance burdens me

Meaningless eternity!

Translation: Rawley Grau