Translation From Schiller: The Philosophers by George MacDonald

The principle whence everything
To life and shape ascended–
The pulley whereon Zeus the ring
Of Earth, which else in sherds would spring,
Has carefully suspended–
To genius I yield him a claim
Who fathoms for me what its name,
Save I withdraw its curtain:
It is–ten is not thirteen.

That snow makes cold, that fire burns,
That man on two feet goeth,
That in the heavens the sun sojourns–
This much the man who logic spurns
Through his own senses knoweth;
But metaphysics who has got,
Knows he that burneth, freezeth not;
Knows ’tis the moist that wetteth,
And ’tis the rough that fretteth.

Great Homer sings his epic high;
The hero fronts his dangers;
The brave his duty still doth ply–
And did it while, I won’t deny,
Philosophers were strangers:
But grant by heart and brain achiev’d
What Locke and Des Cartes ne’er conceiv’d–
By them yet, as behoved,
It possible was proved.

Strength for the Right is counted still;
Bold laughs the strong hyena;
Who rule not, servants’ parts must fill;
It goes quite tolerably ill
Upon this world’s arena;
But how it would be, if the plan
Of the universe now first began,
In many a moral system
All men may read who list ’em.

“Man needs with man must linked be
To reach the goal of growing;
In the whole only worketh he;
Many drops go to make the sea;
Much water sets mills going.
Then with the wild wolves do not stand,
But knit the state’s enduring band:”
From doctor’s chair thus, tranquil,
Herr Pufendorf and swan-quill.

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But since to all, what doctors say
Flies not as soon as spoken,
Nature will use her mother-way,
See that her chain fly not in tway,
The circle be not broken:
Meantime, until the world’s great round
Philosophy in one hath bound,
She keeps it on the move, sir,
By hunger and by love, sir.

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