Thränen, “Tears”

Friedrich Hölderlin, Selected Poems and Fragments, pgs 95-6.

1998, Penguin Classics.  Michael Hamburger, trans.  Jeremy Adler, ed.



O heavenly love, the tender, if you I should

Forget, if you, the site that a fate has marked,

The fiery that are full of ash and

Even before that were wild, deserted,


Dear islands, you, the eyes of the wondrous world!

Since only you concern me and matter now,

You banks where the idolatrous, where

Love, but to heaven alone, does penance.


For too devoutly almost, too gratefully

In days of beauty there did the holy serve,

And furious heroes; and no lack of

Trees, and the cities at one time stood there,


Visible, like a pondering man; now dead

Those heroes are, the islands of love defaced,

Disfigured nearly.  So for ever

Love is outwitted, for ever silly.


And yet, soft tears, not utterly now put out

For me the light of vision; a memory.

To make my dying noble, still, you

Thievish, deceitful ones, let outlast me.



One Response

  1. But visions refracted through light
    Fresh tears
    water soil of memory
    outlast greedy grasp
    mock cheap imitation
    penetrate plastic wall of doom
    fertilize human landscape of
    triumphant reclamation.

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