My German is schrecklich, but since I couldn’t find any translations I liked, I spent the afternoon struggling with Goethe’s poem “Eins und Alles” (“One and All”), with a dictionary and several other translations in tow. What follows is my best attempt to render this Englishly. I am convinced that translation is impossible, but I am compelled to try anyway. (German speakers, please tell me where I’m way off!)
Finding oneself amidst the infinite,
The individual would gladly disappear
That all discomfort may dissolve.
No more burning wishes, wild wanting;
No more annoying demands, rigid rules:
To give oneself up is a joy.
Soul of the World, come, permeate us!
Help us wrestle with the World-Spirit,
Raise our powers to its heights.
Goad us as kindly spirits,
Gentle guiding masters,
To that which creates and created everything.
And remaking what has been made,
So that it does not fossilize,
Eternally working, vitalizing activity.
What was not, now wants to become
Virgin suns, vibrant earths,
And never rest.
It must remain in motion, actively creating,
First forming, then transforming;
It appears still only for a moment.
The eternal lures everything onward:
Because all things must decay into nothing,
If they want to persist in being.