Lament, by Joseph Knecht, by Hermann Hesse

No permanence is ours; we are a wave
That flows to fit whatever form it finds:
Through day or night, cathedral or the cave
We pass forever, craving form that binds.

Mold after mold we fill and never rest,
We find no home where joy or grief runs deep.
We move, we are the everlasting guest.
No field nor plow is ours; we do not reap.

What God would make of us remains unknown:
He plays; we are the clay to his desire.
Plastic and mute, we neither laugh nor groan;
He kneads, but never gives us to the fire.

To stiffen to stone, to persevere!
We long forever for the right to stay.
But all that ever stays with us is fear,
And we shall never rest upon our way.

This is in “The Poems of Knecht’s Student Years,” a chapter at the end of The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse.  It rang true with me in many ways, literal and figurative.



  1. Rod said,

    November 15, 2011 at 9:24 am

    The concept of God as the potter who never fires the kiln is taken from Hakim Omar Khayyam and 11/12th century sage from Neysahbur in Eastern Iran. Hesse with his keen interest in Eastern mysticism, undoubtedly read the work called Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam which was very popular in Germany and England in the late 19th century. It is not exactly plagarism rather poetical inspiration!

  2. Agnum Gnomey said,

    April 2, 2013 at 10:43 am

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