“Courage, My Heart” – Almost My Tattoo

In Greek class last week, Elvira noticed my tattoo and said, “I love that line!  It’s from my favorite poem.”

“It’s actually from a children’s book.  What poem are you talking about?”

That night she sent me a link to Hermann Hesse’s Steps (originally in German).  She says it loses something in the translation, but I think this is SUCH a beautiful poem, and I’ve already practiced writing it out in cursive on multiple sheets of paper.  I love its message of hope and endurance and honesty and adventure.  Maybe I’ll put “Courage, my heart” on my other wrist.  No, I won’t, that is a TERRIBLE idea, but I definitely don’t mind if people think my tattoo is referencing this poem.

As every blossom fades
and all youth sinks into old age,
so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
attains its prime and cannot last forever.
The heart must submit itself courageously
to life’s call without a hint of grief,
A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.

High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.

Maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands,
maybe life’s call to us will never find an end
Courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well.


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