Saturday, September 4, 2010


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Nikolaus Lenau


If ever you have found yourself alone,
Loveless, bereft of God, upon the plain,
And bound your wounds, silent, too proud to groan,
Defying fate to strike you once again;

If ever every happy hope has flown,
As listens to his lost pack's cry in vain
The mountain hunter, and hears how far their tone,
As flees the bird from winter's snow and rain;

Were you thus on a lone heath all alone,
You know then too how some force made you kneel
And fling your arms around a silent stone;

And how, frightened by loneliness, you rise
In horror from the rock that cannot feel
And stretch your arms out to the windy skies.


The wind is alien; your arms naught enfold;
The stone is dead; from it you seek in vain
A word of comfort that might still your pain;
The gentle roses are no whit less cold;

You see them, unaware of you, unfold--
Busied with their own dying; and again
Where'er you turn decay and death obtain
And all life's highways in their thralldom hold.

And if you see from out their huts men start
They slam the windows shut before your stare;
The huts collapse; stark horror grips your heart.

Loveless, bereft of God, your path is dread;
The wind of life grows cold; your own despair
Fills the whole world and finds it cold and dead.


-German title: Einsamkeit.

(Illustration is Caspar David Friedrich, A Walk at Dusk, c.1830-35.)

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