Remembrance

by Friedrich Holderlin

English version by James Mitchell
Original Language German

The northeast blows,
my favorite among winds,
since it promises fiery spirit
and a good voyage to mariners.
But go now, and greet
the lovely Garonne,
and the gardens of Bordeaux,
where the path runs
beside the steep bank,
and the brook runs into the deep stream,
and a noble pair of oak and silver
poplars look down from above.

I remember well
how the crowns of the elm trees
lean over the mill,
and a fig tree grows in the courtyard.
On holidays dark-skinned women
walk upon the soft earth,
and in March,
when night and day are equal:
cradling breezes waft
across the gentle pathways,
heavy with golden dreams.

But someone hand me
the fragrant cup,
full of dark light,
that I may rest.
It would be sweet
to sleep among the shadows.
It isn't good
to stay mindless
with human thoughts.
On the other hand, conversation
is also good: to speak
the thoughts of the heart,
and to hear much of days of love,
and of deeds that occur.

But where are our friends
Bellarmin and his companion?
Many are afraid to go to the source,
since treasure is first found in the sea.
Like painters, they gather up earth's beauty,
and they don't scorn winged war,
or to live alone for years
beneath the bare mast
where the city's festivities
don't flash through the night, or
the sound of strings and native dancing.

But now the men
have left for India...
from the windy peaks
and vine-covered hills
where the Dardogne
comes down with the great
Garonne; wide as an ocean
the river flows outward.
But the sea takes
and gives memory,
and love fixes the eye diligently,
and poets establish
that which endures.

-- from Poems of Friedrich Holderlin, by Friedrich Holderlin / Translated by James Mitchell

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Remembrance