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The Everlasting Man

Av Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1925):

“The tale of the end of Troy shall have no ending, for it is lifted up forever into living echoes, immortal as our hopelessness and our hope. Troy standing was a small thing that may have stood nameless for ages. But Troy falling has been caught up in a flame and suspended in an immortal instant of annihilation; and because it was destroyed with fire the fire shall never be destroyed. And as with the city so with the hero; traced in archaic lines in that primeval twilight is found the first figure of the Knight.

There is a prophetic coincidence in his title; we have spoken of the word chivalry and how it seems to mingle the horseman with the horse. It is almost anticipated ages before in the thunder of the Homeric hexameter, and that long leaping word with which the Iliad ends. It is that very unity for which we can find no name but the holy centaur of chivalry. But there are other reasons for giving in this glimpse of antiquity the name upon the sacred town.

The sanctity of such towns ran like a fire round the coasts and islands of the northern Mediterranean, the high-fenced hamlet for which heroes died. From the smallness of the city came the greatness of the citizen. Hellas with her hundred statues produced nothing statelier than that walking statue; the ideal of the self-commanding man. Hellas of the hundred statues was one legend and literature; and all that labyrinth of little walled nations resounding with the lament of Troy.

A later legend, an afterthought but not an accident, said that stragglers from Troy founded a repulic on the Italian shore. It was true in spirit that republican virtue had such a root. A mystery of honor, that was not born of Babylon or the Egyptian pride, there shone like the shield of Hector, defying Asia and Africa; till the light of a new day was loosened, with the rushing of the eagles and the coming of the name – the name that came like a thunderclap when the world woke to Rome.”

«And there fell on [Rome] the shadow from a shining and as yet invisible light and the burden of things to be. It is not for us to guess in what manner or moment the mercy of God might in any case have rescued the world; but it is certain that the struggle which established Christendom would have been very different if there had been an empire of Carthage instead of an empire of Rome. We have to thank the patience of the Punic wars if, in after ages, divine things descended at least upon human things and not inhuman…

Can any man in his senses compare the great wooden doll, whom the children expected to eat a little bit of the dinner, with the great idol who would have been expected to eat the children? That is the measure of how far the world went astray, compared with how far it might have gone astray.

If the Romans were ruthless, it was in a true sense to an enemy, and certainly not merely a rival. They remembered not trade routes and regulations, but the faces of sneering men; and hated the hateful soul of Carthage. And we owe them something if we never needed to cut down the groves of Venus exactly as men cut down the groves of Baal. We owe it partly to their harshness that our thoughts of our human past are not wholly harsh.

If the passage from heathenry to Christianity was a bridge as well as a breach we owe it to those who kept that heathenry human. If, after all these ages we are in some sense at peace with paganism, and can think more kindly of our fathers, it is well to remember the things that were, and the things that might have been. For this reason alone we can take lightly the load of antiquity and need not shudder at a nymph on a fountain or a cupid on a valentine.»

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Håpet

Vi drømmer og taler forjettende ord
om dagen som engang skal rinne.
Mot lysende mål på en lykkelig jord
ses mennesker jage i blinde.
Vår eldgamle verden forynges på ny,
og evig er menneskets håp om et gry.

For håpet har stått ved vår vugge her.
Det omgir hvert barn, og vil gløde
for ynglingens blikk i et regnbueskjær;
det dør ikke ut med de døde.
Den veitrette vandrer som kaster sin stav,
vil døende plante et håp på sin grav.

Det er ingen tom illusjon! Ingen gold
idé av formørkede hjerner.
Det kunngjøres høyt av ditt hjertes herold:
Vi fødtes til høyere stjerner.
Og løftet om lyset som blir oss til del,
vil aldri bli brutt for den håpende sjel.

– Friedrich von Schiller (1797) –

Originalversjonen:

Es reden und träumen die Menschen viel
Von besseren künftigen Tagen,
Nach einem glücklichen gold’nen Ziel
Sieht man sie rennen und jagen,
Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung,
Doch der Mensch hofft immer Verbesserung.

Die Hoffnung führt ihn in’s Leben ein,
Sie umflattert den fröhlichen Knaben,
Den Jüngling bezaubert ihr Geisterschein,
Sie wird mit dem Greis nicht begraben;
Denn beschließt er im Grabe den müden Lauf,
Noch am Grabe pflanzt er die Hoffnung auf.

Es ist kein leerer schmeichelnder Wahn,
Erzeugt im Gehirne des Toren,
Im Herzen kündet es laut sich an:
Zu was Besserem sind wir geboren!
Und was die innere Stimme spricht,
Das täuscht die hoffende Seele nicht.

– Friedrich von Schiller, Die Hoffnung (1797) –

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Besvergelsen

Det sitter en ung fransiskanermunk
ensom i klosterets kammer.
Han leser den gamle svartebok:
«Makt over Helvedes flammer».

Han kan ikke lenger tøyle sin trang
når midnattsslagene toner.
Med bleke lepper anroper han
en underverdens demoner.

I ånder! Bring meg fra graven hit
den skjønneste kvinne blant døde!
Beliv hennes lik for denne natt,
på det at min sjel får sin føde!

Han sier besvergelsens grufulle ord,
og ønsket blir oppfylt på stedet.
Den arme, døde skjønnhet står frem,
hyllet i lakenklede.

Sørgmodig er blikket. Det kolde bryst
stønner i kvalfulle rier.
Hun setter seg hen til den unge munk.
De ser på hverandre og tier.

– Heinrich Heine, Besvergelsen/Die Beschwörung (1844)

Originalversjonen:

Der junge Franziskaner sitzt
Einsam in der Klosterzelle,
Er liest im alten Zauberbuch,
Genannt der Zwang der Hölle.

Und als die Mitternachtstunde schlug,
Da konnt er nicht länger sich halten,
Mit bleichen Lippen ruft er an
Die Unterweltsgewalten.

»Ihr Geister! holt mir aus dem Grab
Die Leiche der schönsten Frauen,
Belebt sie mir für diese Nacht,
Ich will mich dran erbauen.«

Er spricht das grause Beschwörungswort,
Da wird sein Wunsch erfüllet,
Die arme verstorbene Schönheit kommt,
In weißen Laken gehüllet.

Ihr Blick ist traurig. Aus kalter Brust
Die schmerzlichen Seufzer steigen.
Die Tote setzt sich zu dem Mönch,
Sie schauen sich an und schweigen.

– Heinrich Heine, Besvergelsen/Die Beschwörung (1844)

Det pinefulleste er kampen for tilværelsen

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Panteren

Dens blikk er blitt så sløvet under ferden
langs gitteret at det mottar ikke lenger.
Det er som om det fantes tusen stenger
og bak de tusen stenger ingen verden.

Dens gang er myk, og smidig sterkt er skrittet
når den i sammentrengte ringer går
som i en dans av kraft omkring en midte
hvor en bedøvet, mektig vilje står.

Iblant kan sløret foran dens pupill
gli lydløst opp. Et bilde den fornemmer,
går gjennom kroppens anspent stille lemmer
og er i hjertet ikke lenger til.

* * * * * *

Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Der Panther (1907)

Panteren_en bedøvet, mektig vilje står

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Eternity? thou pleasing, dreadful thought!

Through what variety of untried being,

Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?

The wide, th’ unbounded prospect, lies before me;

But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.

– – –

This in a moment brings me to an end;

But this informs me I shall never die.

The soul, secured in her existence, smiles

At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.

The stars shall fade away, the sun himself

Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;

But thou shalt florish in immortal youth,

Unhurt amidst the wars of elements,

The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.

– Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)

I den stille mørke natt

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KING HENRY:

A good leg will fall;

a straight back will stoop; a black beard will turn white;

a curl’d pate will grow bald; a fair face will wither;

a full eye will wax hollow: but a good heart Kate, is the sun

and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon, –

for it shines bright, and never changes, but keeps his

course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me:

and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king:

and what say’st thou, then, to my love? speak, my fair,

and fairly, I pray thee.

KATHARINE:

Is it possible dat I sould love de enemy of France?

KING HENRY:

No; it is not possible you should love the enemy of

France, Kate: but, in loving me, you should love the

friend of France; for I love France so well, that I will not

part with a village of it; I will have it all mine: and, Kate,

when France is mine and I am yours, then yours is

France and you are mine.

-William Shakespeare, King Henry the Fifth (1598-1599)

The end of the quest, sir frank dicksee

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CAMBRIDGE:

I do confess my fault;

And do submit me to your highness’ mercy.

GREY and SCROOP:

To which we all appeal.

KING HENRY:

The mercy that was quick in us but late,

By your own counsel is suppress’d and kill’d:

For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,

As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.

See you, my princes and my noble peers,

These English monsters!

– – –

CAMBRIDGE:

For me, the gold of France did not seduce;

Although I did admit it as a motive

The sooner to effect what I intended:

But God be thanked for prevention;

Which I in sufferance heartily will rejoice,

Beseeching God and you to pardon me.

GREY:

Never did faithful subject more rejoice

At the discovery of most dangerous treason

Than I do at this hour joy o’er myself,

Prevented from a damned enterprise:

My fault, but not my body, pardon, sovereign.

KING HENRY:

God quit you in his mercy! Hear your sentence.

You have conspired against our royal person,

Join’d with an enemy proclaim’d, and from his coffers

Receiv’d the golden earnest of our death;

Wherein you would have sold your king to slaughter,

His princes and his peers to servitude,

His subjects to oppression and contempt,

And his whole kingdom into desolation.

Touching our person, seek we no revenge;

But we our kingdom’s safety must so tender,

Whose ruin you have sought, that to her laws

We do deliver you. Get you, therefore, hence,

Poor miserable wretches, to your death:

The taste whereof, God of his mercy give

You patience to endure, and true repentance

Of all your dear offences! – Bear them hence.

-William Shakespeare, King Henry the Fifth (1598-1599)

Vi ser verden i stykker

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Which when BEELZEBUB perceiv’d, then whom,

SATAN except, none higher sat, with grave

Aspect he rose, and in his rising seem’d

A Pillar of State; deep on his Front engraven

Deliberation sat and publick care;

And Princely counsel in his face yet shon,

Majestick though in ruin: sage he stood

With ATLANTEAN shoulders fit to bear

The weigth of mightiest Monarchies; his look

Drew audience and attention still as Night

Or Summers Noon-tide air, while thus he spake.

– John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)

Majestick though in ruin_sage he stood

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