ODE TO JOY
Joy! – Celestial spark divine,
Daughter of eternal bliss,
We enter your most holy shrine,
Drunken with your fiery kiss.
Your magic spell rejoins again
What tradition’s sword divides.
All people become brothers then,
Where your gentle wing abides.
Whoever with great fortune met,
And is a friend of a great friend;
He, who a graceful woman wed,
Their joy in jubilance shall blend.
Whosoever even loves just
One lone soul; rejoice and stay!
But he, who cannot share love, must
Sadly weeping steal away.
Living creatures quench their thirst
For joy at Mother Nature’s breast.
Be they good, even the worst,
Along her rose strewn trail they quest.
She offered kisses, she gave wine,
Lust to worms in rotting sod.
A Friend who gave His life for thine,
Now stands as Cherub before God.
Joyous, as His suns take flight
Through heaven’s splendid canopy,
Brothers – run your path aright,
Joyful, seeking victory.
Be embraced, millions! Arise!
This kiss to the whole World we give.
Brothers – Over starry skies
Must a loving Father live.
Millions, are you falling down?
Sense the Creator, humankind?
Seek Him above the starry crown.
Seek Him there, and you will find.
These lines were originally written in German by poet Friedrich von Schiller in 1785. Selected stanzas from Schiller’s poem, “An die Freude,” were later in 1824 set to music by composer Ludwig van Beethoven in the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony. His “Choral” segment, globally known as the “Ode to Joy,” is most always sung in German. Searching for an English version of these lyrics, I have found none that actually could be sung and/or which could do justice to Schiller’s monumental work.
With humble apologies to Schiller and Beethoven, I have translated the lyrics into English and set them back into rhyme and meter. By necessity, this is not a literal translation, but retains the meanings in the poem. It is offered here to the English-speaking world with compliments.
Dietmar Rothe © 2013