Gottfried Conrad Pfeffel: “Music of the Spheres”
Excerpt, “German Lyric Poetry: A Collection of Songs and Ballads.” Translated from the Best German Lyric Poets, with Notes by Charles Timothy Brooks. 1863.
A youth, by chance, one day, o’er Plato pouring,
About a music of the spheres had read.
“Ha! I must hear it,” to himself he said,
And straightaway fell upon his knees, imploring
Great Jupiter, his wishes to fulfill.
“Rash boy,” said Jove, “thou canst not have thy will;
The heavenly concert of the spheres
Is not for mortal ears.” –
He ceased not still to tease the god,
Till Zeus at last no more could bear it.
And so resolved to let him hear it.
Accordingly he gives the nod:
The youth hears suddenly through all the skies –
And what? – A frightful din and discord rise.
A thousand voiced song
Sweeping on Desolation’s wings along,
With all the thunders ever hurled
By hand of vengeance on the world,
Were but the buzzing of a bee
To this tempestuous round of melody.
“O Zeus, what is it rends my ears?”
The youth exclaims, all stiff and pale;
“Is this the music of the spheres?
So bellowed never hungry hell!
Ha, wouldst thou only strike me deaf,
Thou frightful god, ’twere some relief.”
Jove from a cloud calls down in turn,
“Men are not gods, thou here canst learn;
’Tis dreadful discord to thy ears,
To mine – the music of the spheres.”