torsdag 12 januari 2023

Four poems by Stefan George

Om namo nârâyanâya...

Let me tell you about Stefan George.

He lived 1868-1933.

He was a conservative German poet.

He was an aesthete, seeing art and beauty as a kind of creed in itself. Kind of like this.

He meant that intuition is superior to intellect.

He admired Nietzsche (as can be seen in this post).

He was an elitist: an elite should rule society, he meant.


Some time ago we gave you George's Nietzsche poem. Now we will give you four other poems -- poems of the same exquisite, aesthetic, uplifting kind.

The first one is "Having Everything".

Having Everything

Essentially this is a nameless George poem from the collection Der Stern des Bundes, 1913; by its first line we can call it “Having Everything”. It is about people ignoring the fact that we live in abundant times. In a more philosophical vein, it can be seen as a text on the theme of how the common man lacks the imagination to see beyond everyday trifles, “the man of the crowd” being unable to seek out Tradition, the treasures of timeless art and wisdom, which still exist even though the everyday reality is filled with MSM nonsense and propaganda. (The following is my own translation.)
Having everything, knowing everything they moan:
“Barren living! Thirst and hunger everywhere!
Abundance lacking!”
I know of attics over every house
full of yellow grain, richly piling up –
no one takes...
Cellars under every house where the wine
leaks out and is absorbed by the sand –
no one drinks...
Tons of pure gold scattered in the dust:
people in rags touching it with the hem –
no one sees.

You Build Criminally

Here is another poem from the same collection, Der Stern des Bundes (which in itself means, “the star of the union”). The theme is the modern world gone astray in materialism and the need for a spiritual resurgence footed in the ethically and aesthetically gifted individual (the below version is my translation):
You build criminally with mass and limit:
“what’s high can get higher...!” But no find,
no support, no mending suffices – the building sways.
And at wisdom’s end you shout to heaven:
“What to do before we suffocate in our own rubble,
before our own spooky image feeds our brains?”
He laughs: too late for rest and medication!
Ten thousand must be struck by divine madness
ten thousand must incur the holy plague
ten thousand infested by the holy war.

Do not talk to me about the Highest Good: before it
blesses you, you will drag it down to your mess.
God is a mere shadow while you ruin yourself.
Do not talk to me about Womanhood: before you do not see all this,
what’s under the fruitful, painful exterior,
it has to grow stronger in lust.
Do not talk to me about People: since no one of you feels
the union of earth and threshing floor,
the right with the coming and going,
the tying up of the split golden thread.

Estimate the danger as nothing but a fanciful image
before which you kneel – at the big fire!
You’re destroying much more when you remain
by your corrosive poison and your grave
as a depletion and a maternal maw.
It may happen that from a few leftovers
saved from the rubble – from the cracked wall,
weathered rock, eroded ore –
gilded letters come to life!
The way you keep it is complete decay.

The world evening was blazing... again the Lord went
into the rich city with gate and temple, laughing
grimly that all this would fall.
He knew: no inserted stone can remain
if the ground – the whole – denies
the power of the whole.
Many hands moved and many grand words
were said and one was need.
The world evening was blazing... everybody was playing and singing.
They all looked right – only he looked left.

Whom the flame always embraces will
always be the companion of the flame!
He may wander and stray: wherever her
sheen reaches him, he never strays too
far from the target.
Only when his look loses her will he
be deceived by his own shimmer:
missing the law of the middle
he is scattered in the abyss.

The new nobility you are looking for
doesn’t issue from shield and crown!
Be forever differentiated,
with the clever look of wisdom,
with the raw look of scorn.
Stemless grow in the chaos
rare sprouts of their own worth
and you know the kindred
in the true glow of the eyes.

Let the old people of the estate be happy,
the faraway quarrel doesn’t reach their ear.
But all youth you should call slaves,
deafening themselves with soft sounds,
chained over the abyss in a garland of roses.
You should spit the rotten out of your mouth,
you should wear the dagger in the laurel bouquet
according to rhythm and melody of the near election.

Come to the Park They Say Is Dead

The next poem is also nameless but is usually called by its first line, “Come to the Park They Say Is Dead”. I’ve found the translation on the site The original poem is from the collection Das Jahr der Seele (1898) and it is longer than this, has more stanzas. It is a scene of animated nature, of vivid symbols around us.
Come to the park they say is dead, and view
the shimmer of the smiling shores beyond,
the stainless clouds with unexpected blue
diffuse a light on motley path and pond.

The tender grey, the burning yellow seize
of birch and boxwood, mellow is the breeze.
Not wholly do the tardy roses wane,
so kiss and gather them and wreathe the chain.

The purple on the twists of wilding vine,
the last of asters you shall not forget,
and what of living verdure lingers yet,
around the autumn vision lightly twine.


The last poem in this exposé will be “Hyperion”. It summarizes George’s “ethics-cum-aesthetics” of anti-modernism, hinting at ancient Greece as an alternative to strive for. Part I and II are deciphered with the help of Malmberg’s Swedish translation. Part III is the translation given at PoemHunter. (I have corrected it on line six, made PoemHunter’s reading of “chase” into “chaste,” according to the original’s “scheu”.) – In line nine of Part III, we find the English word guerdon which means “give a reward”.
To the longing a gesture was enough.
And of old, with gestures the gods have spoken.


Whence do I possibly come,
from what distant land,
o ye brothers of my kin?
Though I enjoy wine and bread
of your land, still the stranger
I remain.
I, the firstborn, knowing himself
grander than siblings from
later alliances, knowing he
has a nobler paternity.
O ye trapped in the senses,
flaccid in word and deed:
longing by God knows what waters and
willows for low-down pleasures!
You never learned to dance;
too raw, too soft, unable
to harmony, alone even as
couples: you with your mirror!


A specter draws me to you,
children of the Greek archipelago,
you, having given grace to the deed,
majesty to the works of art,
you, having married the courage of Sparta
to the sweetness of Ionia.
The young dancer of victory
creates heroes as a man,
both leading a state
and a symposium.
The demand of ardent voices
unifying temple and games.
Wisdom never reached
deeper than in this realm.
What a teeming life
on these shores and mains!
In the cypress grove
in purple twilight,
profoundest teachers leading
the steps of noble youth.
The favorites of Tyche
you were ever victorious,
you, having in flesh and bronze
shaped the image of Man;
in reeling dance, you
created gods for us.
A thousand-fold sounds the cry:
Woe! that it must perish!
By the law of necessity,
life destroying life!
Woe! On the command of the Syrian
this world of light fell into night.


I journeyed home: such flood of blossoms never
had welcomed me... a throbbing in the field
and in the grove there was of sleeping powers.
I saw the river, slope and shire enthralled,
and you, my brothers, sun-heirs of the future:
your eyes, still chaste, are harboring a dream,
once yearning thoughts in you, to blood shall alter...
My sorrow-stricken life to slumber leans,
but graciously does heaven’s promise guerdon
the fervent... who may never pace the Realm.
I shall be earth, shall be the grave of heroes,
that sacred sons approach to be fulfilled.
With them the second age comes; love engendered
the world, again shall love engender it.
I spoke the spell, the circle has been woven...
Before the darkness fall, I shall be snatched
aloft and know: through cherished fields shall wander
on weightless soles, aglow and real, the God.

George's Nietzsche poem
Golden Yoga: Life as Art
Fyodor Bronnikov, Pythagoreans Celebrate Sunrise. 1869

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