Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
Ballad of the Outer Life
By Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929)
AND children with deep eyes grow up and stray
All innocent—lo, they grow up and die,
And every man is bent upon his way.
And bitter fruits will sweeten by and by,
And, like dead birds, will fall into the night,        5
And then decay as on the ground they lie.
The wind blows evermore in wayward flight,
And ever many words we say and hear,
Feel weariness of limb or young delight.
And streets run through the grass, and far and near        10
Are gloomy pools and trees, and torches burn.
Some places threaten, some are deathlike, sere …
Why are these things diverse—ah, can we learn?
And are there many more than we can say?
Why do we tremble, laugh and weep in turn?        15
Of what avail is all, and why this play?
For we are men, and lonely evermore,
And wandering seek no goal upon the way.
What profits all this seeing while we roam?
And yet, how much he says who utters “night”!        20
For from this word deep grief and meaning pour
Like heavy honey from the honeycomb.

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