WEDNESDAY POEM: NATURE AND ART BY J W VON GOETHE, TRANSLATED BY DAVID LUKE

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The Independent Culture
Nature and Art, they go their separate ways,

It seems; yet all at once they find each other.

Even I no longer am a foe to either;

Both equally attract me nowadays.

Some honest toil's required; then, phase by phase,

When diligence and wit have worked together

To tie us fast to Art with their good tether,

Nature again may set our hearts ablaze.

All culture is like this; the unfettered mind,

The boundless spirit's mere imagination,

For pure perfection's heights will strive in vain.

To achieve great things, we must be self-confined:

Mastery is revealed in limitation

And law alone can set us free again.

Our poems this week come from Goethe's 'Selected Poetry', in David Luke's translations, published to celebrate the poet's 250th anniversary by Libris (pounds 14.95 p/back; pounds 40 h/back).

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