Saturday, December 03, 2005


Growing Older

Dennis Mangan thinks being older is way better. Not so from my perspective. Despite their hardships, I miss my college years. I had no car or telephone; I was forced to sell my French horn to pay rent; while I was a student I worked as a janitor, cleaning toilets and scraping gum from underneath desks; once out of hunger I ate tomato soup from free catsup and hot water in the college cafeteria; I wasted years studying impractical subjects and dead languages; and I never got a full-time job in my area of study. But I was free and happy then, freer and happier than I've ever been since.

Friedrich Rückert, Mit vierzig Jahren (tr. Henry S. Drinker):
At forty years the mountain is ascended,
We look behind us down the slope;
We see our gentle days of childhood ended,
And youth so buoyant with hope.

Look once again, and stop no more to ponder.
But firmer grasp your staff again!
Before you is a ridge that stretches yonder,
And leads you downward to the plain.

You need not pant and strain lest fate defeat you.
The path will draw you unaware;
And as you go will bend to meet you,
So in a trice, you will be there,
Before you know, you will be there.

Mit vierzig Jahren ist der Berg erstiegen,
Wir stehen still und schaun zurück;
Dort sehen wir der Kindheit stilles liegen
Und dort der Jugend lautes Glück.

Noch einmal schau, und dann gekräftigt weiter
Erhebe deinen Wanderstab!
Hindehnt ein Bergesrücken sich, ein breiter,
Und hier nicht, drüben geht's hinab.

Nicht atmend aufwärts brauchst du mehr zu steigen,
Die Ebene zieht von selbst dich fort;
Dann wird sie sich mit dir unmerklich neigen,
Und eh' du's denkst, bist du im Port.

Emily Ezust
translates Rückert's poem more closely.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?