Holderlin …

When I was a boy … (Da ich ein Knabe war …)

When I was a boy
     Often a god would save me
         From the shouts and blows of men;
             I played safely and well
                 With the flowers of the fields
                      And the winds of heaven
                          Played with me.

As you make happy
The hearts of plants
When they extend to you
Their delicate tendrils,
So you make my heart happy,
Father Sun, and like Endymion
I was your favorite,
Holy Moon!

All true and neighborly gods!
If only you knew
How much I loved you then!

True, at that time, I didn’t
Know your names, and you
Never bothered to name me, like men
Who only pretend to know one another.

Yet I know you better
Than I’ve ever known anyone,
I understood the silence of the upper air,
But I’ve never understood the words of men.

I was raised by the sounds
Of the rustling grove
And learned to love
Among the flowers.

I grew up in the arms of the gods.

William Kent ‘Banquet of the Gods’ Royal Academy of Arts

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