Ode to Joy – Sometimes the Old Ones are the Best Ones

ode to joy

I look at the power of ‘Ode to Joy’ written in 1785 by German poet, Friedrich Schiller.

The poem uses language generally rejected today with its focus on men and brothers, but it does align with the reality of its time. What is interesting, though, is its focus on the feminine as offering the solutions to issues we face. In that it pre-dates much of what is spoken about today.

It is a beautiful poem, one worthy of being understood, especially in relation to all the hate and conflict we face every day. I am using an english translation of most of the text used by Beethoven.

Joy, beautiful spark of the divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter your sanctuary, burning with fervour,
O heavenly being!
Your magic brings together
what custom has sternly divided.
All men shall become brothers,
wherever your gentle wings hover.

Custom has divided us men against men, men against women, race against race… We look, especially in The Good Men Project, for ways to bring people together. The idea of the magic of joy being the vehicle is so simple. Under its influence we are all brothers and sisters, we are all one, we are connected in a universe of joy.

Whoever has been lucky enough
to become a friend to a friend,
Whoever has found a beloved wife,
let him join our songs of praise!
Yes, and anyone who can call one soul
his own on this earth!
Any who cannot, let them slink away
from this gathering in tears!

This influence is available to us all, friend, partner, anyone with a soul. For me that is everyone. Let us just embrace each other and see a new way of living.

Every creature drinks in joy
at nature’s breast;
Good and Bad alike
follow her trail of roses.
She gives us kisses and wine,
a true friend, even in death;
Even the worm was given desire,
and the cherub stands before God.

Joy is part of us all, it is part of our core essence, it is the source of our humanity. Whatever we are like is a result of the conditioning we experience in this world. We can let that go and live in joy.

Gladly, just as His suns hurtle
through the glorious universe,
So you, brothers, should run your course,
joyfully, like a conquering hero.

We can conquer our fear and our desire to destroy and dominate. We can do this together and move into a new paradigm of masculinity and femininity. We can be together, glorious in our differences and passionate in our similarities as brothers and sisters.

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the whole world!
Brothers, above the canopy of stars
must dwell a loving father.
Do you bow down before Him, you millions?
Do you sense your Creator, O world?
Seek Him above the canopy of stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.

We may disagree about the nature of our creator, father, mother, scientific reason, loving universe, but he/she/it is there beyond the stars, beyond our vision or comprehension. Embrace and kiss and bow to the magnificence of the energy that surrounds us all.

I find this inspiring and full of hope. To move forward, though, we need to understand what the joy is that the poem talks about. To me it is the energy that pervades my life, that I feel every day and connects me to others. It is the sense of being a living being on this planet, a unique individual created to live a life of purpose.

As you read this, feel your soul and sense the joy there. That’s where the hope for our future is.

Image Credit: Flickr/Ines Seidel (Creative Commons)