Friedrich Hölderlin, from “Bread and Wine” (5th stanza)

| January 31, 2011

At first the gods come unperceived. Children try to get

Near them. But their glory dazzles and blinds and

Awakens fear. A demi-god scarcely knows the people

By name, who now approach him with gifts. But their

Courage is great. Their joy fills his heart, and he hardly

Knows what to do with the offerings. He busies himself

And becomes wasteful, and unholy things almost become holy,

Which he touches with a blessing hand, foolishly and kindly.

The gods tolerate it as long as they can, and then in truth

They appear themselves. And people become accustomed

To this fortune, to the daytime, and to the sight of the manifest

Ones, the faces of those formerly called the “One and All,”

Deeply making every silent breast content, and first and alone

Filling every desire. It’s the way people are. When something

Good appears, and even when it’s a god that provides them

With gifts, they don’t see or recognize it.  First they have

To get used to it; then they call it their closest possession.

And only then will words of praise arise, like flowers.

via Friedrich HöLderlin-Selected Poems.