The Division of the Earth by Friedrich von Schiller, translated from German into English by Roswitha Joshi

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The Division of the Earth

 

 by Friedrich von Schiller

 

(translated by Roswitha Joshi)

 

 

“Take the world!” called Jove from his exalted height

To mankind. “Take it, it shall all be yours!

Inherit it as your eternal fief and right,

But share it brotherly henceforth!”

 

There rushed those who had hands to grab whatever yields,

There scurried young and old to hunt for goods.

The peasant took hold of the fruits of the fields,

The squire stalked deer deep through the woods.

 

The merchant did load what his warehouse could hold,

The abbot did choose the best-seasoned wine,

The King levied taxes on each bridge and road

And spoke: “One tenth of it be mine.”

 

Later, when the division had long been done,

The poet returned from a distant land.

Ah! Nothing remained unclaimed under the sun,

All goods were held in someone’s hand.

 

“Alas! Out of all shall it be me alone,

Your truest son, who thus forgotten stands?”

He prostrated himself before Jovis throne

And loudly moaned with empty hands.

 

“If in the land of dreams you had resided,”

The God replied, “to blame me now won’t do!

Where had you been, when all the world divided?”

“I was,” the poet spoke, “with you.

 

My eyes were be-glued to your radiant sight,

Your heaven’s harmony engulfed my ear –

Forgive the spirit that, drunk in divine light,

From earthly goods itself did tear!”

 

 

“What to do?” spoke Jove, “all sharing has been done.

Autumn, bazaar and hunt are no more mine.

If heaven you want to share with me, my son –

Whenever you arrive, it shall be thine.”

 

 

 

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The Gardener (poem)

The sun did scorch with thousand rays

The cracked up earth below.

The soil, which seemed devoid of life

Had given up its soul

And yet, as life does never end

Each grain of dust, each corn of sand

Did carry in its deepest self

A treasure trove of slumbering wealth.

A gardener who came along

Bent down to kiss the ground.

And in his mind, he did perceive

Of thousand birds a sound.

He broke the clods, the sun had baked

That earth migh breathe again.

Gave water to the plants which were

To be, but not yet there.

His hands did move to songs he heard

In trees swaying above.

His eyes did dance to pirouettes

Performed by bees in love.

He dug and watered, sowed and raked,

Glimpsed little flecks of green,

Which slowly left their earthen cave

To soak the sun’s briImageght sheen.

The flecks of green did grow in height,

A stream of blossoms flowed

From leafy cups, from chalices

The gardener had sowed.

As bushes grew and flowers bloomed

In colour and fragrance,

The bees, the butterflies and birds

Did spread their wings to dance.

Below the snails and frogs did join,

One crawled, one did a jive.

The gardener had given them

By love, the kiss of life.

“The Gardener”

Every morning I sit in my garden and admire the immediate world surrounding me. The birds are twittering, the sun pierces through the foliage highlighting different shades of green, a babbit pecks at a tree trunk carving out a hole as a future nest,and, of course, the flies and mosquitoes are at their active best/worst. What a contrast to the events I read in the newspapers lying next to my cup of coffee! While I am mulling over the immediate beauty and distant – or not so distant – ugliness, I remember how, over twenty years ago, I created this garden with my own hands. At that time I also felt inspired to write a poem entitled ‘The Gardener’ (published in my book ‘Fool’s Paradise’ in 2009 by UBSPD, which I wil share with you in my next post.