Thursday, February 26, 2015

Divertimento--Mitternachtslied: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

I have been translating Zarathustra's ditty for 40 years. It has been ringing in my ears lately, and here is my latest tweaking of this little piece. I think we must imagine Midnight singing and shining its song every night, within a cycle of sleeping and awakening. As we do for Sisyphus, we must, as Camus advises, imagine Midnight happy, embracing each dream, awakening, joy and suffering--hoping to change none of it, night after night, day after day. The rhythm of a life well-lived embraces its days and midnights, its joy and suffering, its moments of weakness and strength.

Oh Mensch! Gib acht!

Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?

»Ich schlief, ich schlief—,

Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht:—

Die Welt ist tief,

Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.

Tief ist ihr Weh—,

Lust—tiefer noch als Herzeleid:

Weh spricht: Vergeh!

Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit—,

—will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!«

All and none must listen:

Upon what words does deep midnight glisten?

“I sleep, I sleep-

I have awakened from a dream so deep-

The world is a chasm deep

A chasm deeper than day’s thought could leap.

Deep is its suffering-

Joy, yet deeper than the heart’s sad muttering:

Suffering glimmers, ‘enough, away’

But Joy wants eternity

Wants deep, deep eternity”

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