Two little Hölderlin translations

Friedrich Hölderlin


The Ganges’ banks heard the god of joy’s
triumph, as from the Indus all-conquering
young Bacchus came, with holy
wine waking the nations from their sleep.

Oh poets, wake them up from their slumber,
Who are still asleep, give them laws, give
Us life, vanquish, oh heroes, only you
Have the right to conquer like Bacchus.


You cold hypocrites, don’t speak of the gods!
You have Mind! you do not believe in Helios,
Nor in the Thunderer or the Sea God;
The earth is dead, who would thank her?

Be confident, oh gods! For you do adorn the song,
Though soul have vanished from your names,
And if a Great Word be needed,
Mother Nature! you will be recalled.

[translated on a cold sunny August dawn in Bourg d’Oueil, looking out at the mountain-side beyond the creek, hoping, expecting, deer to cross the line between wood and meadow. Red-tailed hawk – I think – circles the field.

Cannot get the spacing right, i.e. line indents disappear when I transfer translated text to the blog space, but don’t have time – given that I am using a low-baud modem – to get html codes from web & try to figure oit how to do the formatting correctly tis morning.]

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1 Response

  1. François says:

    Whenever you come back to the States, use the tags < pre >< font face="whatever font you want to use" size="3" > (without the spaces) and use the space bar to indent. At the end of the text, use the following tags: < /pre >< / font >. Again, without the spaces.

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