Thursday, July 22, 2010


Praise of Laziness

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), Praise of Laziness (Lob der Faulheit):
Laziness, now I want to bring you, too, a little song of praise. O — how trouble — some — it is for me — to extol — you — as you deserve! However, I will do my best; after work, to rest is good.

Summum bonum! The one who possesses you, his life is untroubled — alas! — I'm — yawning — I'm — getting worn out — now — please — forgive me for being unable to sing to you; indeed, you are preventing me from doing so.

Faulheit, jetzo will ich dir
Auch ein kleines Loblied bringen. —
O — wie sau — er — wird es mir —
Dich — nach Würden — zu besingen!
Doch, ich will mein bestes tun,
Nach der Arbeit ist gut ruhn.

Höchstes Gut! wer dich nur hat,
Dessen ungestörtes Leben —
Ach! — ich — gähn' — ich — werde matt —
Nun — so — magst du — mir's vergeben,
Daß ich dich nicht singen kann;
Du verhinderst mich ja dran.
German text from Peter Demetz and W.T.H. Jackson, An Anthology of German Literature: 800-1750 (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968), p. 324, who in a note explain that sauer (usually = "sour, bitter") here = "troublesome, laborious".

Pieter van der Heyden, Desidia (Sloth),
after Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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