13 July 2018
Translation: Louise Ackermann's To an Artist
Since even those who are happiest face infinite pain,
Since the ground is cold and the sky looms dark,
Since mankind here below wanders sullen in vain,
Among futile regrets and fleeting amorous darts,
What to make of life? Oh our immortal souls,
Where to direct your desires and your secret urges?
You would possess, but here all quivers and prowls;
You want to love forever, but near death emerges.
It’s better yet in some austere study to immerse
Ourselves, and in an enchanted world too,
And in our beloved art to contemplate on earth,
Through one of its facets, beauty pure and true.
Artist of unclouded brow, you have grasped it from above,
You, whom, of all the arts, the sweetest hath drawn near,
Who envelops it in faith, a cult, tender love,
At a time when faith, cult and love, all disappear.
Ah! And as for us, for whom weakness is mistress,
And who lack a flame to light the shadows we tread,
We step over brambles and cry out in distress,
Walk in your bright path that you have always lead.
Walk! so that the sky may love and smile upon thee,
So you can yearn for it yourself with a holy fire,
And outwit, your heart full of your idolatry,
The eternal pain and immense desire.