Supplementary Appendix 101a.1

Wilhelm Schlegel’s poems to Caroline.

(approximate prose renderings)

(1) “Abendlied für die Entfernte” (Gedichte [Tübingen 1800], 16–18; Sämmtliche Werke, 1:17–18):

Evening Song for a Distant Lady

Outward, my gaze! outward, behold the valley!
There yet dwells fullness of life;
There be refreshed in moonlight
Amid sacred tranquility.
There perceive undisturbed, my heart,
There perceive gentle strains,
Which, as from afar, drift toward you,
For both bliss and pain.

So wondrously drifting,
Awakening my yearning full.
But pray do tell, O intimation: Be you true?
Or mere vain surmise?
Will ever my eye smile in bright delight,
As it does now in tears?
Ever my indignant breast
Be comforted by longed-for peace?

And though reason itself summon:
"Curry not such intimation,
For calmness of mind dwells
In celestial fields alone" —
Still I could not chase
This flatterer from my breast,
Who did often bear my errant mind,
Now fortified, up, and higher yet.

When intimation and remembrance
Do couple before our gaze,
Then does our soul's deeper shadow
Abate to gentler twilight.
Ah, could we with dreams not
Weave a weave through reality,
How poor in color, poor in radiance, poor in light
Would you surely be, O human life?

Hence our heart does hope and persevere,
Faithfully, even unto the grave,
Embracing the present with love,
Fancying itself in possessions rich.
For what it does give itself
No fate can take away:
Living, doing, being in warmth and power,
Confident and believing.

And though in night and fog
All might die out round about,
This heart has long taken its shield,
A shield for every struggle, every fight.
With lofty defiance amid all vexation
Does it bear whatever be its lot.
And so do I slumber, so do I wake,
Though not in joy, yet in peace.

The two poems “Entsagung und Treue” and “Der letzte Wunsch” were included under the title “Aus einem ungedruckten Roman” in Schiller’s Musenalmanach für das Jahr 1796 111–17 (reprinted in Sämmtliche Werke, 1:19–22, 23–24), given the patina of anonymity (probably not really Wilhelm’s intention) with the subtitle “Aus einem ungedruckten Roman (From an unpublished novel).” “Wilhelm might have been planning to portray his relationship with Caroline as a novel,” so Walzel, 251n1.

(2) “Entsagung und Treue” (Gedichte, 19–23; Sämmtliche Werke, 1:19–22):

Renunciation and Faithfulness

Youth flees, hope recedes,
Life's blossoms fall away, withered,
My bliss far away, out of reach,
And I, silent and alone, like the grave.
You alone, in all the realm of beings,
Possess the magical power
To relieve me of such grief
That derides all, even all consolation.

And yet! I must keep silent before your will;
What it imposes shall I keep in high regard.
And what would it help to speak? Or bend it?
Never has such bold delusion beguiled me.
You know life's highest goal,
And chart your path before you.
My entreaty, full of ardor,
Was but futile before your ear.

No, you did not pass me by unheedful,
For you are a woman, and tenderness your pride.
In every fiber did my breast quake
When your gaze round about me dissolved in tears.
The sweet dew of those gracious eyes
Did my heart devour like parched land.
Yet woe to me! for to suck such in
Merely fed the fire.

I struggled upward and sought to flee;
Pushed the proffered hand away.
"Oh, but be angry, else you must destroy me,
This divinely gentle gaze merely torments me.
Was it sacrilege that I caught fire?
Ah, but you are noble! release me!
Desist with your goodness!
And if not that, then be less grand!"

Thus did I cry out. But what good my resistance?
By an invisible force, by fate itself,
Was I delivered into your hand,
Which makes of my will whatever it wants.
But I complain not; this I shall bear.
Thanks be yours! For this suffering ennobles me.
By renunciation hardened
I can now bear any struggle.

Youth's fields, full of delusive deception,
Smiling sphere of wish and dream,
Whither I once, with hopeful yearning,
Oft strayed, now lie desolate behind me.
With indifference I now stand amid the tumult
That ever pushes toward pleasure; yet for me
Even the celestial home of the blessed
Is but chaos without you.

Happiness is but poor; I mock its gifts;
In me there is more than it can offer.
What I won from you through ardent torment
I now have, and will forever keep.
Your image did I force from you,
Wove it then into my soul,
Entwined with love,
Vivified by love.

In the soul's profoundest depths 
We re-echo the melodies of your words;
And a thousand slumbering powers
Awaken at the mysterious summons.
In me a will is created
Strong and free for lofty deed,
And through your virtue full
Am I inwardly reborn.

But I cannot conceal, cannot deceive my own heart,
Even be your justified derision thereby provoked;
In attaining you, flying beyond you,
Through that notion shall my enthusiasm loft me divine.
Such defiance you cannot condemn,
And were I victorious, yours would be the fame,
For from your sanctuary
Did I steal this flame.

But were I never to capture and fetter
That otherworldly, tempting phantom;
Were I condemned to struggle after you,
Beswirled by inconstancy's eddies:
Then would I rather surrender my soul,
Which does hate this sunlight,
And descend then, down,
Into desolate, cold nothingness.

(3) “Der letzte Wunsch” (Gedichte, 24–26; Sämmtliche Werke, 1:23–24):

The Final Wish

But yes, I know that human existence and deeds
Are but limited and nothing;
That we but wander about and stray
And find in all confusion
Neither place of rest nor stay.

You, too, are but a dream, and a shadow,
A dream of a shadow, sweet woman!
Your sufferings, your delights,
Like bubbles vanishing in a stream,
Are but fate's playthings.

But speak: our hearts, are they, too,
The mockery of time, of chance?
Does my own breast not swell and quake
With self-created life?
Am I not myself a god unto myself?

Aye, a mere trifle for gods
To shatter with the heart,
Where it dwells in pride and courage,
Yes, to shatter precisely this
That requites me all my grief,
That prompts me to defy all ill storms.

But as long as it beats, so shall each and every beat
Struggle on toward the highest, most lofty.
What power, indeed, might
Strip my sacred laurel of its leaves?
Or my goddess of her divinity?

Are such but a whirl of hasty flames?
Tumult of untamed passion?
No, in just this striving do I sense
Inward, secret life,
Nobility of soul and light and power.

If ever the embers might go out
That on your altar burn,
O Goddess, ah! then let me die,
And court sweet death,
Before fate itself condemns me;

Condemns me to desolate life
That is but a slow yield to death,
Joyless, amid dull grief,
While the grave's slumber already coldly creeps
Through marrow and through nerve.

May I but recover from existence,
Gentle woman, at your bosom.
Then shall dissolve my being
From rage and bliss of final kiss.
Ha! welcome, O lust of death!

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott