Monday, June 17, 2019


Adam to God

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), "Adam the First" (tr. Peter Branscombe):
You sent the divine gendarme with his flaming sword and chased me out of Paradise entirely without justice and mercy!

I'm making my way with my wife towards other lands; but you can't alter the fact that I have enjoyed the fruit of Knowledge.

You can't alter the fact that I know how small and insignificant you are, however important you make yourself out to be with death and thunder.

O God! How pitiful this Consilium abeundi is! That's what I call a real Magnificus of the world, a Lumen mundi!

I shall certainly never miss the realms of Paradise; it wasn't a true Paradise — there were forbidden trees there.

I want my full rights of freedom! If I find the slightest restriction, Paradise turns into a hell and prison for me.

Du schicktest mit dem Flammenschwert
Den himmlischen Gendarmen,
Und jagtest mich aus dem Paradies,
Ganz ohne Recht und Erbarmen!

Ich ziehe fort mit meiner Frau
Nach andren Erdenländern;
Doch daß ich genossen des Wissens Frucht,
Das kannst du nicht mehr ändern.

Du kannst nicht ändern, daß ich weiß,
Wie sehr du klein und nichtig,
Und machst du dich auch noch so sehr
Durch Tod und Donnern wichtig.

O Gott! wie erbärmlich ist doch dies
Consilium abeundi!
Das nenne ich ein Magnifikus
Der Welt, ein Lumen Mundi!

Vermissen werde ich nimmermehr
Die paradiesischen Räume;
Das war kein wahres Paradies —
Es gab dort verbotene Bäume.

Ich will mein volles Freiheitsrecht!
Find ich die gringste Beschränknis,
Verwandelt sich mir das Paradies
In Hölle und Gefängnis.
On the consilium abeundi, see Jeffrey L. Sammons, Heinrich Heine: A Modern Biography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), pp. 73-74 (note omitted):
It was just at this time that Heine created the tangle that emancipated him from Göttingen for a while. He got into an argument with a student named Wiebel and challenged him to a duel in early December....In any case, the duel with Wiebel did not come off. The authorities got wind of it, and Heine and Wiebel were confined to their rooms. A series of sessions before the academic court followed, during which Heine extracted a half-hearted apology from Wiebel. There the matter seemed to have rested at the end of the year, but in January 1821 Heine received the consilium abeundi, the "advice to leave," for half a year; Wiebel was also rusticated and given two weeks in the student prison to boot.
Thanks to Alan Crease and Kenneth Haynes for help with this post.

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