Friday, June 09, 2006


Okay, humor me. (Isn’t it odd? When I ask you to humor me, you automatically know this is probably not going to be funny. Does that mean I normally try to humor you? Or humorize?)

Here’s something I ran across, from Goethe, in his poem Das Goettliche:

Heil den unbekannten
Hoehern Wesen,
Die wir ahnen!
Ihnen gleiche der Mensch;
Sein Beispiel lehr’ uns
Jene glauben.

Talk about the old switcheroo. (I’ll do my best here. But, as – I think – Frost said, poetry is that which is untranslatable.)

Hail to the unknown
Higher beings,
Whom we have a premonition of!
[ooh. Or “whom we divine” – nifty, huh?]
Let man resemble them;
His example shall teach us
To believe in them.

[This is the awkward translation part. The German is so much neater.]

Goethe goes on to point out that nature is unfeeling and indiscriminate. Humans, however, can evaluate.
I guess I admire that initial switcheroo. It’s one of the impulses underlying humor, after all. And, obviously, it allows us to rethink some things.

Go, Goethe!



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