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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

Half Life

Covered with wild roses
and yellow pears, the land
hangs down toward the lake.
You swans, affectionate
and drunk with kisses,
dip your heads into
the purifying water.

Alas, where shall I, in
Winter find flowers, and where
the sun’s light and the Earth’s shade?
Walls stand voiceless
and cold; in the wind,
a weathervane clatters.

» Read translator's notes

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