Thursday, November 15, 2012


The Golden Age

Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866), The Golden Age (Die goldne Zeit, my translation, stanza by stanza with the German):
The golden age has not vanished, for it is eternally new and young; enough gold will still be discovered, if only you have enough desire for it.

Die goldne Zeit ist nicht entschwunden,
    Denn sie ist ewig neu und jung;
    Noch wird des Goldes g'nug gefunden,
    Habt ihr dazu nur Lust genung.

In the sky the golden stars stand and sing all through the night, that you might learn from them the golden lyre's golden sound.

Am Himmel stehn die goldnen Sterne
    Und tönen all' die Nacht entlang,
    Damit der Mensch von ihnen lerne
    Der goldnen Zither goldnen Klang.

Wine foams up from earth's full breast; gold in color, it beckons to you; to make it yet more golden, drink it from golden goblets at the feast.

Es schäumt aus voller Brust der Erde
    Der Wein auf, der euch golden winkt,
    Den ihr, damit er goldner werde,
    Beim Fest aus goldnen Bechern trinkt.

Most golden of all, your beloved's golden hair is woven into braids, and between them the twin suns of her eyes glow with golden fire.

Doch zu dem goldensten der Bande
    Webt sich der Liebsten goldnes Haar,
    Und zwischendurch mit goldnem Brande
    Glüht ihrer Augen Sonnenpaar.

So abandon the woe that has befallen you, and be ready for new pleasure; let each build for himself, out of golden materials, his own golden age!

So laßt das Weh, das euch betroffen,
    Und seid zu neuer Lust bereit;
    Erbauet aus den goldnen Stoffen
    Sich Jeder seine goldne Zeit!
I am much indebted to Arsen Darnay for the following verse translation, which follows the meter of the original German:
The golden time has not yet vanished,
For it is ever new and young,
Gold sufficient will still be found,
If you desire it enough.

The golden stars are up in heaven
And make their sound the whole night long,
So humanity may learn from them
The golden lyre's golden sound.

From earth's full breast upward it foams, the
Wine that golden winks at each,
That you, to lift, to raise its golden hue
Drink at the feast from golden cups.

But the beloved's golden hair weaves
Itself into the gold-most knot,
And from within, with golden fire,
Her eyes gleam like a pair of suns.

So leave the pain that has you captured
And be prepared for joys renewed;
Let each of you from golden matter
Build each for each his golden time!

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