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Original poem

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.

Versions

Poem in translation

Hölderlin (an approximation)

And the weathervanes clatter because the wind works against them. Even the pears, the abundant pears and roses cannot resist. Yet this is at odds with that serenity of the water land bows down to where swans, drunk with kisses, dip their heads, again, into its wholesomeness. How preserve this? Save it, guard it against its undoing? There is sunshine but there are also shadows and nothing is decided. The walls are thick. The day is cold. The wind makes the weathervanes clatter.

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