Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin


Bread and Wine


Some time ago—to us it seems like a long time—
   All those who made our lives happy climbed upwards.
The Father turned his face away from people,
   And sorrow came rightly upon the earth.
Finally a quiet genius appeared, comforting in a god-like way,
   Who announced the end of the day, and disappeared.
The choir of gods left some gifts behind, as a sign
   Of their presence and eventual return, which we
May appreciate in our human fashion, as we used to.
   That which is superior had grown too great in spirit
For pleasure among men. And to this day no one’s strong enough
   For the highest joys, although some gratitude survives quietly.
Bread is the fruit of the earth, yet it’s blessed also by light.
   The pleasure of wine comes from the thundering god.
We remember the gods thereby, those who were once
   With us, and who’ll return when the time is right.
Thus poets sing of the wine god in earnest, and their
   Ringing praises of the old one aren’t devised in vain.


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We are left weakened by the departure of the gods, but poets survive to remind us of their eventual return.




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