Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hölderlin: der ister II


Now come, Fire!
We are eager
To see the Day,
And when the Trial
Ran through the knees
One might hear the woods scream
We, though, sing, coming from
the Indus afar, and from
the Alpheus; long we've
Sought the Rites,
And not without wings may
One reach for the Next
-- like that --
And make it to the Far Side.
Here, though, we want to build.
For Streams make Green
The Land. For wherever Herbs grow
And the animals go there
During Summer, to drink,
Then humans will go there too.


Now they call Him the Ister.
He lives prettily. His pillars' leaves
Are burning and stirring. Wildly
The pillars stand upright, together; above them
A second measure, slinging forth
From the rock, a roof. No surprise,
Then, that He
Invited Hercules to come as a guest,
Shining from afar, down there at the Olymp,
Since he who sought Shadow,
Came all the way from hot Isthmus,
For full Courage
They were there, but for Spirits' sake,
It also takes cooling off. So that one rather moved
To the Well Springs here, and to the Yellow Banks,
Highly fragrant up there, and black with
Spruce and Jackpine, where in the depths
A hunter likes to walk about
At Noon, when growth is audible
At the resinous trees of the Ister,


Who nearly goes
Backwards, and methinks
He must have come
From the East.
A lot would be worth
Saying of this. And why He hangs
So straight along the Mountains? The other,
The Rhine, flew off
Without reason not run
Currents in the Dry. But how? It takes a sign,
Nothing else, ill or well, so that Sun
And Moon can be carried in spirit, indivisible;
That one can go on, Day and Night too, and
That the Celestial Ones can warmly feel one another.
That's why they are also
The Joy of the Highest. For how came He
Down? And like Hertha green,
They are the Children of the Sky. But overly patient
He doesn't seem to me, not
Suitor, and nearly mocking. Namely when


Unfold should the Day
In the Youth, where He begins
To grow, while another one already drives
High into splendor, and like a Colt,
Grinding on the bit, and the Airs
Hear the action from afar,
And He is content;
But the bedrock needs to be stabbed
And the Earth needs to be cleaved,
It would be inhospitable, without stay;
But what He does, the Stream,
No one knows.

(Mad Hun Translation)
(... Here's a better one:)

Now come, fire!
We are impatient
To look upon the Day,
And when the trial
Has passed through the knees
One may perceive the cries in the wood.
But, as for us, we sing from the Indus,
Arrived from afar, and
From the Alpheus, long we
Have sought what is fitting,
Not without wings may one
Reach out for that which is nearest
Like so
And get to the other side.
But here we wish to build.
For rivers make arable
The land. For when herbs are growing
And to the same in summer
The animals go to drink,
There too will human kind go.
This one, however, is called the Ister.
Beautifully he lives. The pillars’ foliage burns,
And stirs. Wildly they stand
Supporting one another; above,
A second measure, juts out
The roof of rocks. No wonder, therefore,
I say, this river
Invited Hercules,
Distantly gleaming, down by Olympus,
When he, to look for shadows,
Came up from the sultry isthmus,
For full of courage they were
In that place, but, because of the spirits,
There’s need of coolness too. That is why that hero
Preferred to come here to the wellsprings and yellow banks,
Highly fragrant on top, and black
With fir woods, in whose depths
A huntsman loves to amble
At noon, and growth is audible
In resinous trees of the Ister,
Yet it seems
To travel backwards and
I think it must come from
The East.
Much could
Be said about this. And why does
It cling to the mountains, straight? The other,
The Rhine, has gone away
Not for nothing rivers flow
Through dry land. But how? A sign is needed,
Nothing else, plain and honest, so that
Sun and Moon it may bear in mind, inseparable,
And go away, day and night no less, and
The Heavenly feel warm one beside the other.
That also is why these are
The joy of the Highest. For how
Would he get down? And like Hertha green
They are the children of Heaven. But all too patient
He seems to me, not
More free, and nearly derisive. For when
Day is due to begin
In youth, where it starts
To grow, another already there
Drives high the splendour, and like foals
He grinds the bit, and far off the breezes
Can hear the commotion,
If he is contented;
But the rock needs incisions
And the earth needs furrows,
Would be desolate else, unabiding;
Yet what that one does, the river,
Nobody knows.

(Michael Hamburger Translation,
With A. Sol Invictus Emendation)

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843)
"Der Ister" (an anthem)


"Ister" is the old word for the river Danube.
The word is Greek (Istros)
"Istros" derives from the Celtic.
It's also the root of the country "Austria".
Our word "Danube" is Latin.
It derives from the Roman river god (Danubius).
For Austrians and Germans, He is a She: die Donau.
"Donau" is the name of the Ister in German and Chinese.
The Do-Nau was China's border ca. 1280 CE