Friday, November 21, 2014

A four-line philosophy of life

Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube is part of a trilogy describing a journey he made in 1933 to 1934. While Leigh Fermor was in Vienna, he was told a story about emperor Maximilian I (r. 1508-1519), who liked to flee court life to hunt boar in the mountain forests. During one of these hunting trips he is said to have composed a little poem, which goes like this:
Leb, waiss nit wie lang,
Und stürb, waiss nit wann
Muess fahren, waiss nit wohin
Mich wundert, das ich so frelich bin.
Leigh Fermor’s translation:
Live, don’t know how long,
And die, don’t know when;
Must go, don’t know where;
I am astonished I am so cheerful.
Via Michael Leddy.

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