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Franz Werfel

Yes, death is strong, but look you, the strongest, Stronger is music than death.

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Religion is the everlasting dialogue between humanity and God. Art is its soliloquy.

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For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

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The Creature's Stare

You stroke the fur of the big fine dog.
Looking way down into its eyes, you speak,
Pointing out for me the enormous sorrow
That's continuously fixed upon us.

When angels look deep in men's eyes,-
I replied-beneath their noble brows,
They will ask about the same thing in dismay
And turn away for they cannot bear it.

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Dead Friend Of My Youth

Now when you come all that way to meet me
From the country house of your death,
I know that you would remove your hat
To greet someone already old to you.

You'd only half recognize this gentleman
Whose face has become so very different.
But to me you'd burn in that former pureness
Kept young by death, a light out of boyhood.

If you would suddenly deign not to dissolve
Your highness and withdraw from my presence,
Perhaps I could simply just close my eyes then,
Perhaps I could also get down on my knees.

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The Faithful One

So many play with you,
You play with the many,
But you never see me
There in the background,
By you around the clock
With my frozen-up mouth
And my iron-hard face.

Those you gladly amuse,
They make things work smoothly,
They don't get in my way.
There's always someone new,
And there's no one I shun,
For I'm the faithful one,
And you I can bet on.

Once you become old hat,
Passé, of no interest,
And no one's around you,
Then I'll turn to you,

[...] Read more

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Das Bleibende

Solang noch der Tatrawind leicht
slowakische Blumen bestreicht,
so lang wirken Mädchen sie ein
in trauliche Buntstickerei'n.
Solang noch im bayrischen Wald
die Axt im Morgengraun hallt,
so lang auch der Einsame sitzt,
der Gott und die Heiligen schnitzt.
Solang auf ligurischer Fahrt
das Meer seine Fischer gewahrt,
so lang wird am Strand es schaun
die spitzenklöppelnden Fraun.
Ihr Völker der Erde, mich rührt
das Bleibende, das ihr vollführt.
Ich selbst, ohne Volk, ohne Land,
stütz' nun meine Stirn in die Hand.

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Dance Of Death

Death has taken me out for a swing.
At first I didn't drop from the quickstep
In his dance and clogged right along
Until he drove the tempo up.

How swiftly was I pulled into being
The jumping jack, the dancing chicken,
Becoming nothing but a scream to God
With no hope of what He was thinking.

Then Death lifted me up high and spun me
Into the sky so God would be pleased with him,
For he doesn't take what God doesn't give.

But suddenly he let his catch fall,
For in the alphabet of the first silence,
God has just two words for him: Not today!

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Morning Hymn

I am not dead. Through slit and crack
The piercing ray only glanced me,
And in the glow of self-possession
I survive once more once again.

Through open shutters with waves surges
A blue that does not look blue to me.
Like a baby the air's nursed itself
Full of the sun's milk that melts down.

On the sea a steamer's whistle
Blows like a rutting stag.
From mountains flashes a secret army's
Visible-invisible birth.

I am not dead. I'd like to shout loud
On this day of who gets mercy,
That today each of my sails fills
Themselves once more once again.

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The Ram

(An interpretation of a Jewish face)

You've inherited the great ram's features,
The black-wooled one that bred with Jacob's herds.
You found yourself enough in the desert,
On the thistleweed that bent in the wind.

When the shepherd called, you fine animal,
You came skipping, your high heart pounding.
You pranced and pawed the ground with your hooves,
Which now is your tendency to make jokes.

But when the warrior with his steel honor
Climbed his horse and poked out his lance,
You timidly forced yourself back into your fold
And baaed there quietly and without hope.

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Franz Werfel
Franz Werfel