Two Poems by Goethe
On a sunny Monday morning, here are two sudden translations from Goethe’s West-Östlicher Diwan:
Goethe to Hafiz:
And if the whole world disappeared
Hafiz, with you and only you
I would compete . Pleasure & pain
As twins we’d share!
To love & to drink like you
That shall be my pride, my life.
Talisman on Carneol
Is luck & well-being for the believer,
If on Onyx all the more
Kiss it with hallowed lips!
It chases away all evil,
Protects you & where you are:
When the engraved word
Purely heralds Allah’s name,
It inflames love & deed in you.
It is women most of all
Who are edified by talismans.
Amulets are similar
Signs written on paper;
But one is not as narrowly pressed
As on the noble stone’s tight edge,
Thus pious souls are granted
Here to choose much longer verse.
Men wear these papers
Faithfully as scapularios.
The Inscription has nothing to back it up
However: It is itself & has to tell you all
That in your turn, with honest pleasure,
You wish to say: I say it, I!
But Abraxas I rarely bring!
Here supposedly the grotesque
Created by stark madness
Has to stand in for the highest.
If I tell you absurdities,
Just think that I’m bringing Abraxases.
A Signet Ring’s difficult to draw,
It’s highest sense in densest space;
Though here you know how to acquire
a thing authentic,
Dug in or raised, the word stands,
you hardly think it.