“Soul Longing”: translation of Goethe’s “Selige Sehnsucht”

Tell no one but the wise
For throngs will merely scoff:
I praise what is alive
And what longs for death by fire.

In the cool nights of love
Where you get, as you were once begotten
A strange feeling falls upon you
As the candle, silent, gleams.

Nevermore shall you be captive
Amongst these darkling shades;
A new desire rends you
Towards an higher conjugation.

No distance can weigh upon you
You come flying and enchanted
And at last, longing for the light
You, butterfly, transform yourself in flame.

And so long as thou hast not
This: ‘Die and then become again!’
Thou are but a dark guest
Upon this sullen Earth.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hesiod says:

    I think you captured Goethe perfectly in English! Well done. There is a certain “dark” undercurrent to German romantic thought that you bring out well here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Max Leyf says:

      Thank you for the kind words


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