Hermann Hesse Stufen – Steps

Over the past few weeks, we have been talking about change as we have redesigned our blog and gotten back to blogging. Yesterday I published a post about my quick uprooting and move to Ireland as changing me the most within my life. So within the theme of change, my lovely German mother-in law, sent me this poem which is well known in Germany and pertaining to change. The poem is by Hermann Hesse, a German poet and writer and is entitled “Steps.” I love the poem and thought it would be perfect to follow up with my post of moving and living abroad. Thank you Ingrid!

Hermann Hesse Stufen (Steps)
German poem with English translation followed below

Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.

Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten
An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
Er will uns Stuf’ um Stufe heben, weiten.
Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,
Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.

Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden
Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden…
Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!

As every blossom fades
and all youth sinks into old age,
so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
attains its prime and cannot last forever.
The heart must submit itself courageously
to life’s call without a hint of grief,
A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.

High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.

Maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands,
maybe life’s call to us will never find an end
Courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well.

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4 thoughts on “Hermann Hesse Stufen – Steps”

  1. Here comes a different translation.
    As every flower fades and as all youth
    Departs, so life at every stage,
    So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
    Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
    Since life may summon us at every age
    Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
    Be ready bravely and without remorse
    To find new light that old ties cannot give.
    In all beginnings dwells a magic force
    For guarding us and helping us to live.
    Serenely let us move to distant places
    And let no sentiments of home detain us.

    The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
    But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
    If we accept a home of our own making,
    Familiar habit makes for indolence.
    We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
    Or else remain the slave of permanence.
    Even the hour of our death may send
    Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
    And life may summon us to newer races.
    So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

  2. Like every blossom wilts and every youth
    Every stage of life gives way to age and blossoms,
    Blossoms every wisdom also and every virtue
    In their time and must not last forever.
    The heart must be in tune with every call of life
    Be ready to say goodbye and start over,
    To be brave and without mourning
    Give oneself into other, new connections.
    And there is a magic inherent in every beginning,
    Which protects us and which helps us to live.

    We are to walk cheerfully through realm after realm
    Hanging on to no one like a home,
    The world spirit does not want to tie us up and tighten us,
    He wants to lift us up step by step, widen us.
    No sooner are we at home in a circle of life
    And settled in cozily, there is a threat of slackening,
    Only those who are ready for departure and travel,
    May be avoid paralyzing habituation.

    It will perhaps also still be the hour of death
    To send us young towards new realms
    The call of life to us will never end…
    Well then, heart, take leave and heal!


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