To Charlotte von Stein
Why give us the ability
to see consciously our destiny:
our love, our earthly happiness,
and to blissfully fancy that we can ignore our foreboding?
Why give us, O Fate, the vision
to look each other in the heart,
to seek out, in the crush of crowds,
our true connection?
Oh, so many thousands of people
in their bland oblivion barely even know their own hearts.
They wander aimlessly, run
hopelessly in sourceless hurt,
cheering again when quick joy
comes with the unexpected blush of dawn.
Only to us, both unfortunate, full of love,
is that fickle happiness denied:
to love each other without understanding,
in dem anderen zu sehen, was er nie war,
going about in an illusion of happiness
and shrinking only from imaginary dangers.
Happy, who is busied with empty dreams!
Happy, whose premonition is false!
Each presence and each glance for us
only fortifies both dream of happiness and knowledge of our fate.
Tell me, what does fate think it is doing?
Tell me, how are we so uncannily connected in life?
Oh, you were in some past existence, long ago
already my sister or my wife.
You understood every tremor of my being,
sensed how the purest nerve rang,
could read me with a glance
that was as heavy as dying,
measured drop for drop my hot blood,
righted my wild, haphazard steps,
and in your angelic arms
my ruined heart calmed itself again.
You healed my heart with magical ease,
wound me back together, and ordered my days.
What bliss filled every blessed hour
that I laid that heart at your feet
and felt it swell next to yours,
felt good in your eyes,
brightened all my senses,
and quieted my rushing blood!
And above all floats a memory
still only in the unconscious heart
that feels the ancient truth forever just barely contained,
and the new circumstance turns it into pain.
And we feel that we are each only half-souled;
twilight is for us the brightest day.
Happy, that the fate that torments us
at least could not take that away.