Ah! happy he, upon whose birth each god
Looks down in love, whose earliest sleep the bright
Idalia cradles, whose young lips the rod
Of eloquent Hermes kindles--to whose eyes,
Scarce wakened yet, Apollo steals in light,
While on imperial brows Jove sets the seal of might!
Godlike the lot ordained for him to share,
He wins the garland ere he runs the race;
He learns life's wisdom ere he knows life's care,
And, without labor vanquished, smiles the grace.
Great is the man, I grant, whose strength of mind,
Self-shapes its objects and subdues the fates--
Virtue subdues the fates, but cannot blind
The fickle happiness, whose smile awaits
Those who scarce seek it; nor can courage earn
What the grace showers not from her own free urn!
From aught unworthy, the determined will
Can guard the watchful spirit--there it ends
The all that's glorious from the heaven descends;
As some sweet mistress loves us, freely still
Come the spontaneous gifts of heaven!--Above
Favor rules Jove, as it below rules love!
The immortals have their bias!--Kindly they
See the bright locks of youth enamored play,
And where the glad one goes, shed gladness round the way.
It is not they who boast the best to see,
Whose eyes the holy apparitions bless;
The stately light of their divinity
Hath oft but shone the brightest on the blind;--
And their choice spirit found its calm recess
In the pure childhood of a simple mind.
Unasked they come delighted to delude
The expectation of our baffled pride;
No law can call their free steps to our side.
Him whom he loves, the sire of men and gods
(Selected from the marvelling multitude)
Bears on his eagle to his bright abodes;
And showers, with partial hand and lavish, down,
The minstrel's laurel or the monarch's crown!
Before the fortune-favored son of earth,
Apollo walks--and, with his jocund mirth,
The heart-enthralling smiler of the skies
For him gray Neptune smooths the pliant wave--
Harmless the waters for the ship that bore
The Caesar and his fortunes to the shore!
Charmed at his feet the crouching lion lies,
To him his back the murmuring dolphin gave;
His soul is born a sovereign o'er the strife--
The lord of all the beautiful of life;
Where'er his presence in its calm has trod,
It charms--it sways as solve diviner God.
Scorn not the fortune-favored, that to him
The light-won victory by the gods is given,
Or that, as Paris, from the strife severe,
The Venus draws her darling--Whom the heaven
So prospers, love so watches, I revere!
And not the man upon whose eyes, with dim
And baleful night, sits fate.
No less the glory of the Dorian lord
That Vulcan wrought for him the shield and sword--
That round the mortal hovered all the hosts
Of all Olympus--that his wrath to grace,
The best and bravest of the Grecian race
Untimely slaughtered, with resentful ghosts
Awed the pale people of the Stygian coasts!
Scorn not the darlings of the beautiful,
If without labor they life's blossoms cull;
If, like the stately lilies, they have won
A crown for which they neither toiled nor spun;--
If without merit, theirs be beauty, still
Thy sense, unenvying, with the beauty fill.
Alike for thee no merit wins the right,
To share, by simply seeing, their delight.
Heaven breathes the soul into the minstrel's breast,
But with that soul he animates the rest;
The god inspires the mortal--but to God,
In turn, the mortal lifts thee from the sod.
Oh, not in vain to heaven the bard is dear;
Holy himself--he hallows those who hear!
The busy mart let justice still control,
Weighing the guerdon to the toil!--What then?
A God alone claims joy--all joy is his,
Flushing with unsought light the cheeks of men.
Where is no miracle, why there no bliss!
Grow, change, and ripen all that mortal be,
Shapened from form to form, by toiling time;
The blissful and the beautiful are born
Full grown, and ripened from eternity--
No gradual changes to their glorious prime,
No childhood dwarfs them, and no age has worn.
Like heaven's, each earthly Venus on the sight
Comes, a dark birth, from out an endless sea;
Like the first Pallas, in maturest might,
Armed, from the thunderer's--brow, leaps forth each thought of light.
Top Friedrich von Schiller Poems