stages – herman hesse


As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

– Hermann Hesse



Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.

Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,
An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
Er will uns Stuf‘ um Stufe heben, weiten.
Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen;
Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.

Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,
Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden,
Wohl an denn Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!

– Herman Hesse

7 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Hi there,
    I was just wondering who the author of this translation of Hesse’s Stufen was. I’m comparing several translations of the same work and particularly liked this one.
    Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. thank you
    i like this translation, much better than the one from my copy of GBG

  3. Don’t know who the author is but it is still not an accurate translation. Haven’t found a really good one so far.

  4. bastian,

    This is the same translation as in my copy (Picador 1987) which says on the back cover (but nowhere else that I can find) “translated by Richard and Clara Winston”

    ISBN 0-330-30241-8

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  6. Came across this page today. and was very happy to find this translation of Stufen.

    Bin looking for a good translation since more than a week! I don’t think it is easy or even possible to translate the poem from German into any other language. But this translation is so far the best – my opinion!

    Like for instance the title of the poem_ Stages is the correct translation. Stufen. And not like so many other translations the title is Steps, which, in this case, means something totally different in German.

    Regards from Filderstadt, Germany

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