Jean Paul: Scene in the Polar Regions

From the prose of ‘Titan.’ Excerpt, German Lyric Poetry: Songs and Ballads. Translated by Charles T. Brooks. 1863.

Far in the North, behind the Orcades
The setting sun a twilight glimmer shed,
Eastward afar the coasts of men were seen
Dim, shadowy and spectral; like a still,
Broad land of spirits lay the vacant sea
Beneath the empty heavens; — here and there
Perchance a vessel skimmed the watery waste,
Like a white-winged sea bird; but it moved
Too pale and small beneath the veil of space.

Sublime and awful solitude! the heart,
As it broods over thee, beats fast and feels
Ennobled! —Thou, too, goest forth , pale sun;
Like a white angel, goest down to visit
The silent, ice-walled cloister of the pole,
And, drawing after thee thy bridal garment,
That floats in gold upon the weltering wave,
Veilest thyself around! Where art thou now.

Pale one in rosy robes? Wilt glimmer forth
Again into a warm and glowing eye
Among the ice fields? — Standing here, I gaze
Down on the dreary winter of the world.

How dumb and endless is it down below!
The almighty, outstretched giant stirs himself
In all his thousand limbs, and wrinkles up,
And nothing remains great before him, save
His Father, the great Heaven! — Mighty Son!
Wilt lead me to the Father, when, at last
I come to thee?

Lo, what a gorgeous spectacle!  Aurora
Upon the ruddy evening twilight glows,
With fast increasing light. What can it be
That rends away so suddenly the dark
Shroud of the watery Orcus?  How the shores
Of men like golden morning blaze!  O, art thou
Already come to us again, thou fair,
Majestic Sun, so young and rosy red?

And wilt thou journey kindly yet once more
A long day’s journey o’er the fields of men?—
Glow upward, then, immortal one! — I stand
Yet cold and pale on my horizon:  soon
I must go down to the dark realms of ice.

But shall I too, like him, O God, arise
More warm and bright again, to journey through
A long, bright day in thy eternity?


Jean Paul 5

Jean Paul Friedrich Richter