Die Zweite Elegie; The Second Elegy

[This page by Marielle Sutherland]

Denn wir, wo wir fühlen, verflüchtigen; ach wir

atmen uns aus und dahin; von Holzglut zu Holzglut

geben wir schwächern Geruch. Da sagt uns wohl einer:

ja, du gehst mir ins Blut, dieses Zimmer, der Frühling

füllt sich mit dir . . . Was hilfts, er kann uns nicht halten,

wir schwinden in ihm und um ihn [...]

For we, even as we feel, pass off as vapour: ah, we

breathe ourselves out and away; ember after ember

our scent is ebbing away. Though someone may say,

“Yes, I feel you in my blood. This room, the springtime

is filling with you …” What’s the use? He cannot preserve us.

We still disappear in him, around him. […]



Here, the elegy laments our transience, displaying that problematic consciousness of death that keeps us from our full existence. We are aware that our lives and experiences are evaporating off, our passions burning off like heat and scent diminishing into the atmosphere. With each breath we are expiring and we can leave our mark on nothing, not even on lovers who witness and appreciate our existence most intensely.