Wednesday, August 18, 2010
THE CHORUS OF THE DEAD (1883)
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
We dead men, we dead men can muster more legions
Than all of you mortals in all the world's regions!
Where we plowed the fields for the deeds we were sowing
There now sinks the harvest your sickles are mowing.
And what we completed or merely decided
Up there keeps your fountains with water provided.
And all our loving and hating and yearning,
Up there warms your blood, and you still feel it burning.
By laws and by measures which we once erected
Still all that you do in your world in directed.
And what we in stone, sound, or word once created
Is crowned in the light by the world it elated.
We still are pursuing the goals of the living.
Revere our numbers. We still are the giving.
-German title: Chor der Toten.
(Illustration is Arnold Böcklin, Self-Portrait with Death as a Fiddler, 1871-74.)