Ode to Joy
by FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER (1759-1805)
Joy, thou source of light immortal,
Daughter of Elysium!
Touched with fire, to the portal,
Of thy radiant shrine, we come.
Your sweet magic, frees all others,
Held in custom’s rigid rings,
All men on earth become brothers,
In the haven of your wings.
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the entire world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
Must a loving Father reside.
Whoever has the great fortune,
To be a friend’s friend, Whoever
wins the love of a lovely woman,
Add his jubilation to ours!
Yes, anyone also who has a soul
To call his own on this earth!
And anyone who never could,
should run away
Weeping from this brotherhood!
Those who occupy the great circle,
Pay homage to sympathy!
It leads to the stars
Where the unknown is enthroned
Joy, all creatures drink
At the bosoms of nature,
All good, all evil
Follow your trail of roses.
Kisses she gives us, and wine,
A friend, proven in death.
Pleasure was given to the worm,
And the cherub stands before God.
Do you fall before him, you millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy,
Above the stars he must live.
Joy is called the strong spring
In the perpetuity of nature.
Joy, joy drives the wheels
In the earth’s great clock.
Flowers, she calls from the buds,
Suns, out of the firmament,
Spheres, she rolls through space
That the seer cannot know.
Happy, as his suns fly
Through the heavens’
Run, brothers, your race
Joyful, as a hero to victory.
As truth’s fiery reflection
Smiles at the explorer,
To virtue’s steep hill
She guides the silent sufferers’ path.
On faith’s sunlit summit
One sees her banners in the wind,
Through the cracks of burst coffins
They are seen in the chorus of angels.
Endure courageously, you millions!
Endure for the better world!
Over the starry canopy
A good God will reward you!
Gods one cannot repay
Beautiful it is, to be like them.
Grief and poverty, acquaint yourselves
With the joyful ones rejoice.
Anger and revenge be forgotten,
Our deadly enemy be forgiven,
No tears shall he shed
No remorse shall gnaw at him
Our debt registers be abolished
Reconcile the entire world!
Brothers, over the starry canopy
God judges, as we judged.
Joy bubbles in the cup,
In the grape’s golden blood
Cannibals drink gentleness
The fearful, courage —
Brothers, fly from your perches,
When the full cup is passed,
Let the foam spray to the heavens
This glass to the good spirit.
He whom the spirals of stars praise,
He whom the seraphim’s hymn glorifies,
This glass to the good spirit
Above the starry canopy!
Courage firm in great suffering,
Help there, where innocence weeps,
Eternally sworn oaths,
Truth towards friend and foe,
Mens’ pride before kings’ thrones —
Brothers, even if it costs property
and blood, —
The crowns to those who earn them,
Defeat to the lying brood!
Close the holy circle tighter,
Swear by this golden vine:
Remain true to the vows,
Swear by the judge above the stars!
Escape the tyrants’ chains,
Generosity also to the villain,
Hope upon the deathbeds,
Mercy from the high court!
The dead, too, shall live!
Brothers, drink and chime in,
All sinners shall be forgiven,
And hell shall be no more.
A serene departing hour!
Sweet sleep in the shroud!
Brothers—a mild sentence
From the final judge!
“A universal genius generally regarded as the greatest German dramatist, Friedrich Schiller dominates a period of German literary history as no one else before or since,” according to the Encyclopedia of World Biography. “Schiller revealed more vividly than any of his predecessors the power of drama and poetry to convey a philosophy; his works contain the strongest assertions of human freedom and dignity and the worth of the individual in all German literature. After his death, he rapidly became part of the cultural environment: streets and schools were named after him, statues and monuments were raised to his memory, his birthday was declared a national holiday and his major works became part of the educational curriculum.”
Schiller believed that the poetry was not a simple form of entertainment but a means of enlightenment. Beethoven incorporated Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” into his Symphony No. 9, one of the most played and well-known symphonies in the world.
German on Page 2