Sunday, February 24, 2013

Constancy is Essential

Fishing Boats at Sea
—Painting by Vincent van Gogh

—Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, 1770-1843

All the fruit is ripe, plunged in fire, cooked,
And they have passed their test on earth, and one law is this:

That everything curls inward, like snakes,
Prophetic, dreaming on
The hills of heaven. And many things
Have to stay on the shoulders like a load
Of failure. However the roads
Are evil. For the handcuffed elements,
Like horses, are going off to the side,
And the old
Laws of the earth. And a longing
For disintegration constantly comes. Many things however
Have to stay on the shoulders. Constancy is essential.
Forwards, however, or backwards we will
Not look. Let us swing
As in a rocking boat on the sea.

(trans. from the German by Robert Bly)



For more about Hölderlin, see And don't forget that we're in the midst of a give-away of the new WTF. Send poems on the theme of waves in cameo form (see Forms to Fiddle With in the green box at the right of this) to by midnight tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 25.