by Hölderlin, translated by Mesocosm
Long have I loved you – wanted, for my own delight,
To call you mother, and to offer you an artless song,
You, the loveliest town that I have seen
in the fatherland.
As the bird of the wild flying over the summit
Swings past the river where it glistens above you,
So the bridges, light and strong,
From which wagons and people resound.
As if sent by the gods, a spell on the bridge
once held me where I went over,
and the beautiful distances shone
to me here, in the mountains,
And the child-river moves off the plain,
Bittersweet, like a heart overcome
by its own beauty, downfall-loving,
casting itself into the flood of time.
To the fugitive, you gave wellsprings
and cool shadows, and all the shores
watched after him, and the scene
Quivered from her image’s waves.
But hard in the valley hung the gigantic
destiny-knowing castle, down to the ground
Torn apart by the weather;
Yet the eternal sun poured
Her rejuvenating light on the aging,
Colossal image, and around the green,
vital ivy, friendly forests
rustled down over the castle.
Bushes were blooming down, to the edges where
the serene valley leaned on the hills or held the bank
Your friendly streets
Rest below the fragrant gardens.
All images (c) Barnaby Thieme. Click any to enlarge.