Words of Delusion by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Three words doth man hear, with meaning full
In good and in best mouths extolling,
They sound off but idly, their ring is null,
They can not give any consoling.
And mankind doth forfeit this life’s own fruit,
As long as mere shadows are his pursuit.

As long as he trusts in the Golden Age,
Where the righteous, the good conquer evil—
The righteous, the good in battle e’er rage,
Ne’er will he vanquish the Devil,
And thou strangle him not in the air that’s blue,
E’er grows in him strength from the earth anew.

As long as he trusts, that a coquettish chance
Is with nobleness bound up in spirit—
The evil she trails with loving glance,
Not the earth, will the good man inherit.
He is a stranger, he goes to roam
And seeks an everlasting home.

As long as he trusts, that mere logic can grasp
The truth that is ever shining,
Then her veil lifts not any mere mortal clasp,
We’re left but supposing, divining.
Thou’d ’prison the soul in an empty sound,
But it wanders off in the storm unbound.

So, noble soul, from delusion tear thee,
And to heavenly trust be most faithful!
What no ear doth hear, what the eyes do not see,
It is this that’s the beaut’ous, the truthful!
It is not outside, there fools do implore,
It is in you, you bring it forth evermore.

From: http://www.schillerinstitute.org/transl/trans_schil_2poems.html#words of delusion

Date: 1797 (German original); 1985 (English translation)

By: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Translated by: Marianna Stapel Wertz (1948-2003)

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