“Whether I wander…”
Whether I wander along noisy streets
Or step into a temple dense with people,
Or sit among fervescent youth,
I give myself over to my fancies.
I say: the years will flash by,
And, as many of us as are to be seen here,
We all will descend beneath the eternal vaults–
And someone’s hour is already near.
As I gaze upon a solitary oak,
I muse: the patriarch of the woods
Will outlive my forgotten age,
As it outlived [my] fathers’ age.
When I caress a dear young child,
I am already thinking: farewell!
I yield my place to you:
It is time for me to wither, for you to flower.
Each day each year
I have come to usher out in fancy,
Of [my] approaching death the anniversary
Intent to guess among them.
And where will fate send me death
In battle, while roving, in the waves?
Or will the neighboring vale
Receive my dust grown-cold?
And though to the unfeeling body
It is all one where it decays,
Yet near as may be to tile dear environs
I would still like to lie at rest.
And at the entrance to the grave
May young life play,
And indifferent nature
Shine with everlasting beauty.