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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Ballad of the Outer Life

By Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929)

Translation of Bayard Quincy Morgan

AND children wake to life in deep-eyed wonder,

And ignorant in living as in dying,

And all we men our several ways must travel.

And bitter fruits are turned to sweet, and flying

Like stricken birds they fall on earth, to cheer it,

But spoil ungathered in a few days lying.

And evermore the zephyr blows, we hear it

And ceaseless speak with all our little graces,

And feel both joy and weariness of spirit.

And pathways wander through the grass, and places

With trees and ponds, where torches oft assemble;

With threatening, or deathly withered faces….

Why are so many built, and why resemble

Each other never, countless and unending?

Why alternately weep and laugh and tremble?

What profits us all this and such contending,

Since lifelong loneliness our manhood grips,

And to no goal our erring feet are wending?

What profits us such life, though far we roam?

And yet how much he says, who “Evening” says:

A word whence pensiveness and sadness drips

Like heavy honey from the hollow comb.