The Soul Of A Century/Cup of youth


A dying lustre lingers as in fright
Upon his sunken cheeks and greyish hair,
Upon the wrinkled face and eyes that stare
Out of the window at the charming night.
How sweet to gaze into the golden breeze,
To watch the flight of swallows, flies and bees,
And see the blooming trees snow laden tresses.
About his temples, warm evening breezes glide,
Laughter and song ring out on every side
While the soul imbibes the evening’s warm caresses.
The dreaming man sees in bewitching splendour
Time long gone by, his heart hears the refrain
Of mighty longing and a grief so tender.
“Come back once more. Be young, be young again . . .

With rising violence this yearning fills his heart
The bosom’s heavy sighs no power can restrain
His moistened eyes with bitter grief now smart,
“Oh Paradise come back . . . Be young again . .

Suddenly, on the crimson cloud appears
A lovely creature of some airy spheres
A light-hued image that beckons from the haze,
With a smile that lights his stirring youthful dream.
He used to see her with his soul agleam
But ne’er beheld her with his human gaze.
She quivers in the room with charms untold
And lifts a crystal goblet to his lip
A goblet bubbling with a foaming dew,
A rosy garland forms about its tip
A blushing ornament set fresh anew.

“Your burning wish now shall be satisfied.
This cup of reborn youth shall weave the spell
Drink . . By this nectar you will be revived,
The stream of life’s young spring again shall swell.
Your soul again with sparkling stars will shine
Your bosom heavy with happiness divine
The golden bird of love your heart shall spear
Your eyes will sparkle with a youthful fire,
Your hair again wave to your heart's desire,
Your cheeks turn light, and wrinkles disappear
Worry and boredom shall leave you with a wink,
A Poem will refresh your soul . . Come, drink.”

The vision’s voice sounds like music from afar
The goblet sparkles temptingly on high
While with a trembling hand he reaches for the star
Whose lovely scent the cup exhales so nigh,
Fresh as the breath of woods ’neath summer skies
A scent as sweet as the balmy breath of spring;
His soul is rocked in dreams of paradise
While golden bells within him sweetly ring . . .
But suddenly his outstretched hand withdraws,
Shadows of doubt cause him to ask and pause,
“Is there a drop with magic to forget,
In all the pearly wine you hold?” he asks.

“That mystic drop my goblet truly lacks,
For Lethes shores, around your dreams are set.”

Should I then cast away life’s heavy role
To gain my youth, but keep within my soul
A memory of all Life took away
And that I know from me again will seize?
To know that youth’s ideals are fancy’s plays,
Inspired mottoes, just words cast to the breeze.
Should I return to Life’s young merriment
With the mournful thought of how rare it is to hold
A faithful friend, what shallow sentiment
Is hid beneath even best friendship’s mold?
How easily the warmest hands turn cool
How oft hearts change, when the mask no more can fool.

How suddenly man shivers, left alone,
Chilled by man’s selfishness, as cold as stone?
Should I return then with a youthful heart
To love-stirred yearning, though I understand
That the aura that gives love its gilded part
Is just a trinket from a story land?
What I called heaven turns to earth once more
Heavenly manna is only the bread of yore,
That saintly love to which young dreams give birth
Holds its airy throne high up above the earth.
Should my ambition’s flame rise up again
When I have learned that fame but sparks in vain,
That it is not worth the anguish and defeat
That empty, hollow laurel’s woven wreath
Should I retain within my memories nook,
How small, deceitful all that our young soul
Sees hallowed with perfections very look?
How futile is this earthly sham and role
Where ’neath the banners of ideals and dreams
And to the tunes of jeweled words, as tools
They speak of honor, truth and love’s sweet schemes
While only passion and cold metal rules?

Away tempting glass . . . I will be satisfied
With my grey hairs . . . Tis easier to bear
The weight of age than youth of sham deprived
It is this sham that gives youth charm and glare
When Life’s crude hand destroys the golden thread
Of youthful dreams, and when the eye through tears
Sees the emptiness of earthly joy and dread,
And man in vain weeps for his bygone years.
Then but in vain we seek lost Eden’s shore
Deprived of all the charms it knew before.

Away from my threshold, thwarted disillusioned truth
Of saddened dreams . . . Away false cup of youth.
’Tis farewell to you, young lovely form
Farewell for e’er . . . In peace I would grow old
In peace await the passing of life’s storm
When another vision will moist my lips grown cold,
From out an agate goblet of black wine
With the mystic ferment of forgetfulness divine.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) between 1928 and 1977 (inclusive) without a copyright notice.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1987, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 35 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.