Saturday, January 05, 2008

Not only for a Steppenwolf :)

Like ev'ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one's achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one's own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief - with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
for each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.

We'll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
it lifts and widens us in ev'ry session:
for hardly set in one of life's expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits' paralyzing stances.

It even may be that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers...
Anon, my heart! Do part and do recover!

Hermann Hesse, Steps

with thanks to the translators

And here in German the original:


Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.

Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,
An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
Er will uns Stuf’ um Stufe heben, weiten.
Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,
Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.

Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,
Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden …
Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!


  1. Beautifully written.

    The author of this poem deserves parading. It's spendour is timeless.


  2. It's a long time since I've read any Hesse. I loved his works in my late teens and early 20s

  3. Mylord, I learned Asteroids can be your friend or enemy — it’s not clear until they blow up, or you do. :)

    you did not read at least "Steppenwolf", "Siddharta", Narcissus and Goldmund"? :)

    welcome in the club. :)

  4. Marvellous. Thanks Sean. I read Steppenwolf recently and loved every word, regretting only that I did not read it a decade or two earlier!

  5. Stan,
    a pleasure to read you enjoyed one of my favourite poems.
    As for The Steppenwolf and your regret: Not that I did not like the book when reading it for the first time when being 16 or 17, but the pleasure got spoilt as it is obviously teachers' (un-)hidden agenda to spoil pupils' fun in literature by forcing them to analyse things to death.
    Which is why I can understand that Shaw explicitly refused to ever become part of any curriculum.
    Re-reading both The Steppenwolf and Siddharta about ten years later - straight after having 'discovered' Narcissus and Goldmund - was certainly more impressive.
    And: doing so two years ago it was even more fascinating and enojoyable.
    So, don't regret, my friend. Just enjoy.

  6. I've come to this late, Sean, but it's beautiful.

  7. Welshcakes,
    despite my dislike of superlatives: it's never to late, hm? :)
    All the best!