Susanne Schubert

Susanne Schubert works as Assistant Professor at Skyline College. Besides teaching chemistry, Susanne mentors students while they are taking their first steps as researchers. In her chemistry classroom, Susanne spreads awareness and information about sustainability and current and past great minds from all over the world in the field of chemistry. 

Poem on Belonging

Note from the translators: Friedrich Rueckert (1788-1866) was a German poet and translator, who translated works from Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Hebrew, and Farsi into German. His work is very much influenced also by these cultures, and the original poem appeared in the anthology Die Weisheit des Brahmanen – which translates to The Wisdom of the Brahmins. We chose this excerpt from his collection because it talks about the importance of languages and bringing cultures together. We believe that it is as current now as it was in the 1800s.

SPRACHE / LANGUAGE

Original German by Friedrich Rueckert (1788-1866)

Translated into English by Susanne Schubert and Sanjyot Pia Walawalkar

Mit jeder Sprache mehr, die du erlernst, befreist
Du einen bis daher in dir gebundnen Geist,

With every language you master,
A spirit is set free within you
That until now was bound

Der jetzo tätig wird mit eigner Denkverbindung,
Dir aufschließt unbekannt gewesne Weltempfindung,

The freed spirit strives to make connections and 
unlocks an all-encompassing understanding of the world

Empfindung, wie ein Volk sich in der Welt empfunden;
Nun diese Menschheitsform hast du in dir gefunden.

It senses the world in the way it is sensed
by those whose language we learn

Ein alter Dichter, der nur dreier Sprachen Gaben
Besessen, rühmte sich, der Seelen drei zu haben.

A wise poet once mastered three languages and proudly proclaimed
That he had three spirits 

Und wirklich hätt‘ in sich nur alle Menschengeister
Der Geist vereint, der recht wär‘ aller Sprachen Meister.”

And only if all human spirits came together as one,
Can we understand the language of all

The original German text is in the public domain. The English translation is used here with permission of the authors.