by Friedrich von Schiller (1759 - 1805)
Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Da ihr noch die schöne Welt regieret
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA
Da ihr noch die schöne Welt regieret,
An der Freude leichtem Gängelband
Selige Geschlechter noch geführet,
Schöne Wesen aus dem Fabelland!
Ach, da euer Wonnedienst noch glänzte,
Wie ganz anders, anders war es da!
Da man deine Tempel noch bekränzte,
Venus Amathusia!

Da der Dichtung zauberische Hülle
Sich noch lieblich um die Wahrheit wand -
Durch die Schöpfung floß da Lebensfülle,
Und was nie empfinden wird, empfand.
An der Liebe Busen sie zu drücken,
Gab man höhern Adel der Natur,
Alles wies den eingeweihten Blicken
Alles eines Gottes Spur.

Wo jetzt nur, wie unsre Weisen sagen,
Seelenlos ein Feuerball sich dreht,
Lenkte damals seinen gold'nen Wagen
Helios in stiller Majestät.
Diese Höhen füllten Oreaden,
Eine Dryas lebt' in jenem Baum,
Aus den Urnen lieblicher Najaden
Sprang der Ströme Silberschaum.

Jener Lorbeer wand sich einst um Hilfe,
Tantals Tocher schweigt in diesem Stein,
Syrinx Klage tönt' aus jenem Schilfe,
Philomelas Schmerz aus diesem Hayn.
Jener Bach empfieng Demeters Zähre,
Die sie um Persephonen geweint,
Und von diesem Hügel rief Cythere
Ach umsonst! dem schönen Freund.

Zu Deukalions Geschlechte stiegen
Damals noch die Himmlischen herab,
Pyrrhas schöne Töchter zu besiegen
Nahm der Läto Sohn den Hirtenstab.
Zwischen Menschen, Göttern und Heroen
Knüpfte Amor einen schönen Bund,
Sterbliche mit Göttern und Heroen
Huldigten in Amathunt.

Finstrer Ernst und trauriges Entsagen
War aus eurem heitern Dienst verbannt,
Glücklich sollten alle Herzen schlagen,
Denn euch war der Glückliche verwandt.
Damals war nichts heilig als das Schöne,
Keiner Freude schämte sich der Gott,
Wo die keusch erröthende Kamöne,
Wo die Grazie gebot.

Eure Tempel lachten gleich Pallästen,
Euch verherrlichte das Heldenspiel
An des Isthmus kronenreichen Festen,
Und die Wagen donnerten zum Ziel.
Schön geschlung'ne seelenvolle Tänze
Kreis'ten um den prangenden Altar,
Eure Schläfe schmückten Siegeskränze,
Kronen euer duftend Haar.

Das Evoe muntrer Thyrsusschwinger
Und der Panther prächtiges Gespann
Meldeten den großen Freudebringer,
Faun und Satyr taumeln ihm voran,
Um ihn springen rasende Mänaden,
Ihre Tänze loben seinen Wein,
Und des Wirthes braune Wangen laden
Lustig zu dem Becher ein.

Damals trat kein gräßliches Gerippe
Vor das Bett des Sterbenden. Ein Kuß
Nahm das letzte Leben von der Lippe,
Seine Fackel senkt' ein Genius.
Selbst des Orkus strenge Richterwaage
Hielt der Enkel einer Sterblichen,
Und des Thrakers seelenvolle Klage
Rührten die Erinnyen.

Seine Freuden traf der frohe Schatten
In Elysiens Haynen wieder an,
Treue Liebe fand den treuen Gatten
Und der Wagenlenker seine Bahn,
Linus Spiel tönt die gewohnten Lieder,
In Alcestens Arme sinkt Admet,
Seinen Freund erkennt Orestes wieder,
Seine Pfeile Philoktet.

Höh're Preise stärkten da den Ringer
Auf der Tugend arbeitsvoller Bahn,
Großer Thaten herrliche Vollbringer
Klimmten zu den Seligen hinan.
Vor dem Wiederfoderer der Todten
Neigte sich der Götter stille Schaar,
Durch die Fluten leuchtet dem Piloten
Vom Olymp das Zwillingspaar.

Schöne Welt, wo bist du? Kehre wieder
Holdes Blüthenalter der Natur!
Ach, nur in dem Feenland der Lieder
Lebt noch deine fabelhafte Spur.
Ausgestorben trauert das Gefilde,
Keine Gottheit zeigt sich meinem Blick,
Ach, von jenem lebenwarmen Bilde
Blieb der Schatten nur zurück.

Alle jene Blüthen sind gefallen
Von des Nordes schauerlichem Weh'n,
Einen zu bereichern unter allen
Mußte diese Götterwelt vergehn.
Traurig such' ich an dem Sternenbogen,
Dich Selene find' ich dort nicht mehr,
Durch die Wälter ruf' ich, durch die Wogen,
Ach! sie wiederhallen leer!

Unbewußt der Freuden, die sie schenket,
Nie entzückt von ihrer Herrlichkeit,
Nie gewahr des Geistes, der sie lenket,
Sel'ger nie durch meine Seligkeit,
Fühllos selbst für ihres Künstlers Ehre,
Gleich dem todten Schlag der Pendeluhr,
Dient sie knechtisch dem Gesetz der Schwere
Die entgötterte Natur.

Morgen wieder neu sich zu entbinden,
Wühlt sie heute sich ihr eig'nes Grab,
Und an ewig gleicher Spindel winden
Sich von selbst die Monde auf und ab.
Müßig kehrten zu dem Dichterlande
Heim die Götter, unnütz einer Welt,
Die, entwachsen ihrem Gängelbande,
Sich durch eig'nes Schweben hält.

Ja sie kehrten heim und alles Schöne
Alles Hohe nahmen sie mit fort,
Alle Farben, alle Lebenstöne,
Und uns blieb nur das entseelte Wort.
Aus der Zeitfluth weggerissen schweben
Sie gerettet auf des Pindus Höhn,
Was unsterblich im Gesang soll leben
Muß im Leben untergehn.

F. Schubert sets stanza 12

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Gedichte von Friederich Schiller, Erster Theil, Leipzig, 1800, bey Siegfried Lebrecht Crusius, pages 281-287; and with Friedrich Schillers sämmtliche Werke. Neunter Band. Enthält: Gedichte. Erster Theil. Wien, 1810. In Commission bey Anton Doll, pages 221-225.

This is the second version of Schiller's poem, with 16 stanzas. For the first version, with 25 stanzas, see below.


Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Another version of this text exists in the database.

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Els déus de Grècia", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "De goden van Griekenland", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Les dieux de le Grèce", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Gli Dei della Grecia", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 128
Word count: 681

That was when you still ruled this...
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
That was when you still ruled this beautiful world,
Holding the light leading-strings of joy,
You still led happy generations of 
Beautiful beings out of the land of myth!
Oh, that was when blissful service to you still shone,
How totally different it was, it was different then!
That was when people still placed garlands in your temple,
Venus Amathusia!

That was when you used the magical drapery of poetry
And you still wrapped it lovingly around truth - 
That was when the fullness of life flowed throughout creation
And what could never be experienced WAS experienced.
In order to press it to loving breasts
People were bestowed with the exalted nobility of nature,
Their eyes were illuminated and everything pointed
To everything bearing the trace of a god.

But now where, according to our sages,
A ball of fire is spinning soullessly,
At that time Helios was steering his golden chariot,
Helios, in his quiet majesty.
These heights were filled by the Oreads,
A Dryad lived in that tee,
From the urns of beloved Naiads
Poured the silver foam of the rivers.

That laurel tree once turned around in need of help,
The daughter of Tantalus remains silent in this rock,
The lament of Syrinx rings out from that reed,
Philomel's pain out of this grove.
That brook received the tears of Demeter,
The ones she shed for Persephone,
And from this hill Cythera called out
To her beautiful friend, but in vain!

They descended to the offspring of Deucalion 
At that time, the gods still came down.
In order to conquer Pyrrha's beautiful daughters
Leto's son took up a shepherd's staff.
Between humans, gods and heroes
Amor formed a beautiful alliance,
Mortals with gods and heroes
Paid homage in Amathus.

Dark seriousness and sad denial
Were banned from your pleasant worship,
All hearts had to beat happily,
For you were connected with those who were happy.
At that time nothing was sacred except for what was beautiful,
The god was ashamed of no joy
Where the chaste, blushing Muse,
Where the Graces, were in control.

Your temples laughed like palaces,
The heroic games venerated you
At the crown-rich festivals on the isthmus,
And the chariots thundered on their way to the winning post.
Beautifully adorned soulful dances
Circled around the resplendent altar,
Wreaths of victory adorned your temples,
Crowns your fragrant hair.

Evoe along with the cheerful thyrsus swingers
And the majestic team of panthers
Announced the great bringer of joy.
Fauns and satyrs sway in front of him
And jumping up to him are raving Maenads,
Their dances praise his wine,
And the brown cheeks of the master of ceremonies invite
People merrily to fill their glasses.

At that time no hideous skeleton stepped forward
Before someone's death bed. A kiss
Took the last life from the lips.
A genius lowered his torch.
Even Orcus' harsh judgement scales
Were held by the descendant of a mortal,
And the Thracian's soulful lament
Had the power to stir the Furies.

The happy shade encountered his joys
Again in the groves of Elysium,
True love found its faithful partner,
And the charioteer found his course.
Linus plays his familiar songs.
Admetus sinks into the arms of Alcestis.
Orestes recognises his friend again,
Philoctetes his arrow.

That was when more lofty prizes strengthened the wrestler
On the arduous course of virtue,
Magnificent achievers performed great deeds
Clambering up towards those in bliss.
Before the one who summons back the dead
The silent army of the gods bowed down.
Shining onto the pilot going across the surging waters are
The twins (Castor and Pollux), looking down from Olympus.

Beautiful world, where are you? Come back,
Beauteous blossom time of nature!
Oh, it is only in the fairy tale land of song
That any trace of your magnificence lives on.
The fields are now in mourning after the extinction, 
No divinity appears before my eyes,
Oh, that image, so warm with life,
Only a shadow of it now remains.

All of those blossoms have fallen
Because of the awful blowing of the north wind,
In order to make a single one out of all rich
This world of the gods had to vanish.
I search sadly amongst the vault of the stars,
But I can no longer find you there, Selene,
I call through the woods, through the waves.
Oh, they answer with an empty echo!

Unaware of the joys which it inspires,
Never enraptured by its majesty,
Never conscious of the spirit that it steers,
Never made any happier by my happiness,
Even lacking in feeling for the honour of its artists
Like the dead striking of the gradfather clock,
Knavishly serving the law of gravity -
That is nature now that the gods have departed.

In order to be delivered again in the morning
Today it digs its own grave,
And like a spindle being wound eternally
The moon waxes and wanes.
In vain have they returned to the land of the poets,
The gods have returned home, of no use to a world
Which, having burst out of its leading strings
Holds itself in its own motion.

Yes, they have returned home, and all that is beautiful,
All that is lofty, they have taken away with them,
All colours, all the notes of life,
And all we are left with is the word deprived of soul.
Pulled away from the flood of time they hover,
Having been rescued, on the heights of Pindus.
Whatever should live immortally in song
Has to perish in life.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translations of title(s):
"Strophe aus " = "Strophe from 'The gods of Greece'"
"Die Götter Griechenlands" = "The gods of Greece"
"Die Götter Griechenlandes" = "The gods of Greece"


Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2019 by Malcolm Wren, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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Based on

 

This text was added to the website: 2019-03-18
Line count: 128
Word count: 924