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.”