The following is a redaction piece lifted from Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, specifically, the selection of Ossian’s poetry as quoted by Werther in the text. This mimetic redaction entails a full-length reinterpretation of Goethe for a contemporary readership, told through a mirrored narrative lens. Where there was once embodiment, is now abstraction.
I smiled, fetched the songs, a shudder filled with tears when I sat down and began to read: Star of night in beauty lift your head of cloud arrayed down the hillside a distant murmuring of streams are moving there is evening hum over the fields. Beautiful light, bathe your lovely hair like a watery column of heroes as in the days gone were airs of spring with your gentle laments were a faint whispering through the souls of her sweet voice, melodious voice, forsaken on the hills. Hear her voice when she sat alone upon the hills: Colma “Is night forsaken on the stormy mount? Wind moans in mountain, rivers howl from rocks, no shelter, from the rain appear stars from the hunt unstrung beside him his hounds sniffing above the swollen river roars why does he tarry? why does my love forget his promise? —rocks the tree, beloved radiance—where have you wandered? i want to flee my proud father and brother, but we are not enemies. be silent so my voice may sound through the valley and my wanderer hear me. the voice calling you, speak, friends, their swords are red chariots. oh they are dead from the storm peaks mountains speak ghosts of the dead. they do not answer. i wait for morning in my tears was your song, softly blushing daughter. with the harp gave us song soul a blaze of light from the hunt at a time before the heroes had fallen in the narrow home of their voices sword like the sword were full of tears. Head in cloud struck the harp with her for the song of sorrow.” Ryno “Noon is fair, the clouds open restless sun up the hill. The mountain river is sweet but the voice I hear is sweeter, your muttering is the voice bewailing the dead man, his head bowed with age and his eyes are red. Excellent singer, why are you alone on the speechless hill? Why do you lament like a wind among trees upon a distant shore?” Alpin “My tears for the dwellers in graves tall and slim on the hill. You are pleasing to look at among the sons of health. You will fall. The hills will forget you swift as deer on the hills, terrible as fires upon the sky. Your anger a tempest, sword like a torrent on the far force of your arm, the flames of your warfare. How peaceful was your countenance like sea after the moon in the silence when the rushing narrow. It is dark where you dwell. A leafless tree. Dust of the glory. Weep, weep father, but your son will not hear. He will never harken to your voice. Future ages will hear you who left no son, let song preserve your name who has fallen.” “Heroes' sighs would burst to remember days of youth, prince of echoing what there is to bewail. Do we not have songs and hymns that melt and refresh the soul? Like a soft mist that fills the flowers as they bloom. Why are you so sorrowful among the waves? I am my grief a lost son a lost daughter. The flower of beauty. The branches of thriving. Your bed is a dark sleep in the grave is heavy. The tempest howls in crowns of oak in pallor through breaking cloud sweet as the fallen breathing air in your eyes like mist on your cloud of fire in warfare wooing for her love. She did not withhold it long lay dead brother where the red berries shine with age. The rolling sea answered of the rocks—why do you frighten me so? hear me, son, hear me!—as the treacherous fled laughing to the shore. She called for her father and brother—is there no one who will rescue me?” “Nothing answered but the voice of the rocks, fierce with spoils of the hunt, arrows rattling on his hip. Five dark grey hounds were about him. He on the shore bound to the oak tree frightened the winds with his groans, trod the waves to fetch across into your dying blood. The wind was frightened with grief in the wars fallen. I sit on the echoing shore across the declining moon I see the ghosts of my children in the dimming light they walk together.” L., in a rush of tears, halted Werther's reading and wept most bitterly of noble persons she drew breath and begged him to continue with heaven's trembling burst of speech and page he lifted up the words: “Why wake me, airs of spring? I water with the dew of heaven. My time of withering is near the tempest that will tomorrow me in my beauty he will seek me all around in the fields and will not find me.” She squeezed his hands. Their cheeks touched with a rage of kisses.∎