The Philosophers.

A poem by Friedrich Schiller

The principle by which each thing
Toward strength and shape first tended,
The pulley whereon Zeus the ring
Of earth, that loosely used to swing,
With cautiousness suspended,
he is a clever man, I vow,
Who its real name can tell me now,
Unless to help him I consent
'Tis: ten and twelve are different!

Fire burns, 'tis chilly when it snows,
Man always is two-footed,
The sun across the heavens goes,
This, he who naught of logic knows
Finds to his reason suited.
Yet he who metaphysics learns,
Knows that naught freezes when it burns
Knows that what's wet is never dry,
And that what's bright attracts the eye.

Old Homer sings his noble lays,
The hero goes through dangers;
The brave man duty's call obeys,
And did so, even in the days
When sages yet were strangers
But heart and genius now have taught
What Locke and what Descartes never thought;
By them immediately is shown
That which is possible alone.

In life avails the right of force.
The bold the timid worries;
Who rules not, is a slave of course,
Without design each thing across
Earth's stage forever hurries.
Yet what would happen if the plan
Which guides the world now first began,
Within the moral system lies
Disclosed with clearness to our eyes.

"When man would seek his destiny,
Man's help must then be given;
Save for the whole, ne'er labors he,
Of many drops is formed the sea,
By water mills are driven;
Therefore the wolf's wild species flies,
Knit are the state's enduring ties."
Thus Puffendorf and Feder, each
Is, ex cathedra, wont to teach.

Yet, if what such professors say,
Each brain to enter durst not,
Nature exerts her mother-sway,
Provides that ne'er the chain gives way,
And that the ripe fruits burst not.
Meanwhile, until earth's structure vast
Philosophy can bind at last,
'Tis she that bids its pinion move,
By means of hunger and of love!

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