Posts tagged ‘albrecht classen’

Monday, 29 January 2018

I See and Hear by Oswald von Wolkenstein

I see and hear
that many a person laments about the disappearance of his property;
I, on the other hand, only lament about the disappearance of my youth,
the disappearance of my carefree attitude
and of that what I used to do at that time
without any consciousness about it because the earth provided me with support.
Now, being hampered by bodily failure,
my head, back, legs, hands, and feet alert me to the approaching old age.
Whatever sins I might have committed without any need,
you, sir body, make me pay for this recklessness
with paleness, red eyes,
wrinkles, grey hair: I can no longer do big jumps.
My heart, my brain, my tongue, and my strides have become hard to move,
I am walking bent over,
my trembling weakens all my limbs.
When I sing I only intonate “O dear!”
I sing nothing else day in and day out;
my tenor has become rather rough.

My wavy blond hair
that once covered my head with curls,
now displays its beauty in grey and black,
bald spots form a round shield,
my red lips are turning blue,
which makes me look disgusting to the beloved.
My teeth have become
loose and ugly and do no longer serve for chewing.
Even if all material in this world belonged to me,
I would not be able to get the teeth renewed,
nor to purchase a carefree attitude.
This would be possible only in a dream.
My abilities to fight, to jump, and to run rapidly
have turned into limping.
Instead of singing,
I do nothing but utter coughing sounds.
My breathing has become heavy.
The cold earth would be the best for me
because I have lost my strength and am not worth much.

Oh, young man,
recognize this: do not rely on your physical beauty,
or on your upright growth or your strength. Turn upwards
[to heaven] with spiritual songs.
As you are now, I have been before.
Once you will be like me, you will not regret to have acted properly.
There is nothing better for me now
but to strive toward living according to God’s will
with fasting, praying, and attending church service,
to kneel down to pray.
But I am not strong enough to do any of this
because my body is no longer strong enough to sustain itself because of old age.
Constantly I see everything fourfold instead of in its real shape
and hear everything muted by a thick rock.
The children are mocking at me,
and so the young ladies.
My lack of reason brought this upon me.
Young men and women, do not forget God’s grace.

From: von Wolkenstein, Oswald and Classen, Albrecht (ed. and transl.), The Poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein: An English Translation of the Complete Works (1376/77-1445), 2008, Palgrave MacMillan: New York, pp. 51-52.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UcPIAAAAQBAJ)

Date: c1430 (original in Middle High German); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376/77-1445)

Translated by: Albrecht Classen (1956- )

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