Today, I simply want to share a stanza from a poem by German poet Friedrich Schiller, Die Götter Griechenlands – The Gods of Greece.
This poem, written in 1788 and later set to music in the form of an almost painfully beautiful song by Franz Schubert, is originally 25 verses long, although Schubert chose only one of these for his lied. Having just spent some time in Liverpool, a city that is currently in the midst of its 2018 Biennial of Contemporary Art – a festival, set this year to the theme of Schubert’s particular chosen stanza, Schöne Welt, wo bist du? – Beautiful world, where are you? – I felt compelled to share these touching, emotional and very relevant words.
Schöne Welt, wo bist du? Kehre wiederHoldes Blütenalter der Natur!Ach, nur in dem Feenland der LiederLebt noch deine fabelhafte Spur.Ausgestorben trauert das Gefilde,Keine Gottheit zeigt sich meinem Blick,Ach, von jenem lebenwarmenBilde Blieb der Schatten nur zurück.
Fair world, where are you? Return again,sweet springtime of nature!Alas, only in the magic land of songdoes your fabled memory live on.The deserted fields mourn,no god reveals himself to me;of that warm, living imageonly a shadow has remained.English Translation © Richard Wigmore
The Biennial writes of this poem, “Today the poem continues to suggest a world gripped by deep uncertainty; a world of social, political and environmental turmoil. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way.” (Visit their website here)