Nature and art – translation by John Irons
Nature and art, they seem to shun each other
Yet in a trice can draw back close once more;
The aversion’s gone too that I felt before,
Both equally attract me, I discover.
An honest effort’s all that we require!
Only when we’ve assigned art clear-cut hours,
With full exertion of our mental powers,
Is nature free our hearts once more to inspire.
Such is the case with all forms of refinement:
In vain will spirits lacking due constraint
Seek the perfection of pure elevation.
He who’d do great things must display restraint;
The master shows himself first in confinement,
And law alone can grant us liberation.