Karl Marx's Early Literary Experiments


Written: written in October — December 1836;
Source: Marx and Engels, Collected Works, vol.1, International Publishers, 1975;
Transcribed: by jim.esch@launchpad.unc.edu.

Never can I do in peace
That with which my Soul’s obsessed,
Never take things at my ease;
I must press on without rest.

Others only know elation
When things go their peaceful way,
Free with self-congratulation,
Giving thanks each time they pray.

I am caught in endless strife,
Endless ferment, endless dream;
I cannot conform to Life,
Will not travel with the stream.

Heaven I would comprehend,
I would draw the world to me;
Loving, hating, I intend
That my star shine brilliantly.

All things I would strive to win,
All the blessings Gods impart,
Grasp all knowledge deep within,
Plumb the depths of Song and Art.

Worlds I would destroy for ever,
Since I can create no world,
Since my call they notice never,
Coursing dumb in magic whirl.

Dead and dumb, they stare away
At our deeds with scorn up yonder;
We and all our works decay --
Heedless on their ways they wander.

Yet their lot I would share never --
Swept on by the flooding tide,
On through nothing rushing ever,
Fretful in their Pomp and Pride.

Swiftly fall and are destroyed
Halls and bastions in their turn;
As they fly into the Void,
Yet another Empire’s born.

So it rolls from year to year,
From the Nothing to the All,
From the Cradle to the Bier,
Endless Rise and endless Fall.

So the spirits go their way
Till they are consumed outright,
Till their Lords and Masters they
Totally annihilate.

Then let us traverse with daring
That predestined God-drawn ring,
Joy and Sorrow fully sharing
As the scales of Fortune swing.

Therefore let us risk our all,
Never resting, never tiring;
Not in silence dismal, dull,
Without action or desiring;

Not in brooding introspection
Bowed beneath a yoke of pain,
So that yearning, dream and action
Unfulfilled to us remain.