Two Poems by Goethe

1st Edition of Goethe's West-Östlicher Diwan
1st Edition of Goethe's West-Östlicher Diwan

On a sunny Monday morning, here are two sudden translations from Goethe’s West-Östlicher Diwan:

Goethe to Hafiz:

And if the whole world disappeared

Hafiz, with you and only you

I would compete . Pleasure & pain

As twins we’d share!

To love & to drink like you

That shall be my pride, my life.

BLESSING-PLEDGES

Talisman on Carneol

Is luck & well-being for the believer,

If on Onyx all the more

Kiss it with hallowed lips!

It chases away all evil,

Protects you & where you are:

When the engraved word

Purely heralds Allah’s name,

It inflames love & deed in you.

It is women most of all

Who are edified by talismans.

Amulets are similar

Signs written on paper;

But one is not as narrowly pressed

As on the noble stone’s tight edge,

Thus pious souls are granted

Here to choose much longer verse.

Men wear these papers

Faithfully as scapularios.

The Inscription has nothing to back it up

However: It is itself & has to tell you all

That in your turn, with honest pleasure,

You wish to say: I say it, I!

But Abraxas I rarely bring!

Here supposedly the grotesque

Created by stark madness

Has to stand in for the highest.

If I tell you absurdities,

Just think that I’m bringing Abraxases.

A Signet Ring’s difficult to draw,

It’s highest sense in densest space;

Though here you know how to acquire

a thing authentic,

Dug in or raised, the word stands,

you hardly think it.

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)

Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

6 opinions on “Two Poems by Goethe”

  1. Pierre,

    Here is one of my attempts to translate a Hafiz poem:

    Get up, before your skull is dust ridden
    fill up your glass before your grave is sodden

    Since since the last motel is the valley of silence
    scream to the sky now, before the night is in

    Please my sylvan beauty, on your being
    do not leave my dust be, before your shadow has been

    let the sparkle of the glass tinder existence
    the deed of your plot will not before your sin

    Reader, don’t forget Hafiz’s words
    take a bath in your tears, then on beauty sing! beauty’s wing

    Interesting, Goethe and Emerson are the links between the east (Sufism) and Romanticism.

    Ciao,

    Murat

  2. hi. i’m iranian. i speak the same language as the one in which Hafiz composed his masterpieces. still, i find his poems hard,often impossible, to latch on!

  3. Just wanna thank you, have an exam tomorrow and it really helped a lot, By the way I’m Iranian too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *