by Friedrich Hölderlin. Translated by Daniel Bosch

Yellow pears on the pond’s face—
Don’t you feel the suspense! And the wild roses,
And the shore’s lip jutting into the lake—
O swans, kiss-drunk,
Go ahead! Dunk your heads
In the sobering water! Drink!

Call me Woe. Call me
Permafrost. Call my petals
Prisms. Call the sun’s face Earth—
My tears should fall on her. All my life
I’ve built a wall around the pond.
Now must I must listen to the wind’s clatter.


Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm´ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde ?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

About the Author:

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) was a German poet.

About the Translator:


Daniel Bosch‘s poems and translations have been published in journals such as Poetry, Slate, The Times Literary Supplement, Agni, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The New Republic and The Paris Review. He was Poetry Editor at Harvard Review for issues 19 and 20. In 1998 he was awarded the Boston Review Poetry Prize for a set of poems riffing on films starring Tom Hanks, and his first collection of poems, Crucible, was published by Other Press in 2002.  Recent essay-reviews by Daniel can be read at ArtsfuseContemporary Poetry ReviewThe Critical Flame, The Rumpus and The Fortnightly Review. He lives in Chicago.