Thursday, November 07, 2013


I Stand at the Door, and Knock

Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866), "Vor den Thüren" (tr. H.W. Dulcken):
I went to knock at Riches' door;
They threw me a farthing the threshold o'er.

To the door of Love did I then repair—
But fifteen others already were there.

To Honour's castle I took my flight—
They opened to none but to belted knight.

The house of Labor I sought to win—
But I heard a wailing sound within.

To the house of Content I sought the way—
But none could tell me where it lay.

One quiet house I yet could name,
Where last of all, I'll admittance claim;

Many the guests that have knocked before,
But still—in the grave—there's room for more.
The same, tr. Henry Philips, Jr.:
Where riches dwell I knocked, but knocked in vain,
A copper from the window thrown was all my gain.

I tried to steal into the cot where Love abode,
But, earlier still than I, a dozen were in my road.

I gently tapped at Fame's tall castle bright,
"We only open here to lord and knight."

I sought the roof-tree that protects the poor,
Within were sobs, and wails, and lament sore.

In vain I asked where did Content abide,
But none there was who knew it, far and wide.

But yet, I know a house, for aye secure,
Where at the last I'll lightly tap the door.

Within its bound dwells many a noble guest,
For many a thousand in the grave there's rest.
The same, tr. Thomas C. Zimmerman:
I have knocked at the door where Riches dwell;
From the window a copper was all that fell.

I have knocked at the door of Love's abode;
Already some fifteen others there stood.

At Honor's palatial home I knocked;
"To all but knight and steed this gate is locked."

I have sought the roof where Labor sweats;
There heard I but woe and vain regrets.

I sought the house where the contented dwell;
None, far and wide, could its presence tell.

But yet an humbler house I know,
To knock at whose door I at last will go.

Within its walls dwells many a guest;
Still for many more in th' grave there's rest.
The German:
Ich habe geklopft an des Reichtums Haus;
Man reicht mir 'nen Pfennig zum Fenster heraus.

Ich habe geklopft an der Liebe Thür;
Da standen schon fünfzehn andre dafür.

Ich klopfte leis' an der Ehre Schloß;
"Hier thut man nur auf dem Ritter zu Roß."

Ich habe gesucht der Arbeit Dach;
Da hört' ich drinnen nur Weh und Ach!

Ich suchte das Haus der Zufriedenheit;
Es kannt' es niemand weit und breit.

Nun weiß ich noch ein Häuslein still,
Wo ich zuletzt anklopfen will.

Zwar wohnt darin schon mancher Gast,
Doch ist für Viele im Grab noch Rast.

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