horseman sprang from his horse, the singer to his feet,and they clasped and embraced each other right lovingly. They had much to tell, for they had been a long while parted ; Leutwald at home in the fair city, under the teaching of the most accomplished minstrels; Adelard with the renowned Count Albert of Bayreuth, who for his beauty and his knightly prowess was surnamed Albert Achilles. With him had the warlike youth lived after his heart’s desire ; and he too had become dear to the German Achilles for his skill in arms, and for many proofs of dauntless contempt of death displayed in hard-fought battles.
” So, then, it was a grief to you to leave him ?” asked Leutwald of his friend.
” Indeed it was,” answered Adelard ; ” but what could be done ? As soon as the count mustered his troops against our beloved mother, the holy free city of Nuremberg, I made myself ready, fastened my horse to the gate, and then, resolved in mind, and with girded sword, I mounted the stairs to my beloved lord, saying, ‘ You have been a gracious prince to me; but as things are at present, I must use against yourself the skill I learned from you.’
I thought the valiant Achilles would have broken forth in anger, as is sometimes his way, but he smiled quietly to himself. ‘ Thou art a brave fellow ;’ then again a little time he was silent, jingling the large knightly sword, inlaid with gold, which never leaves his side, and spoke : ‘ This sword might one day have made thee a knight. Now, however, it may strike thee after another fashion. See only that thou comest honourably under its stroke ; so will it be for thy good, whether it touch thee with the flat edge or with the sharp —for life or for death.’ Then he dismissed me after his gracious manner ; and as I rode forth, a solemn stillness came on my soul ; but since I reached our own borders, and still more since I have met with you, I have become light-hearted as before. But are you ready here ? It is full time.”
” That we know well,” answered Leutwald. ” Only come you today to the aged Councillor Scharf. There will be a cheerful meal; you will learn what is about to happen ; and be of good heart.”
Then the two youths embraced joyfully ; and leading the horse after them, approached the city, singing battle-songs with all their heart and voice, through the flowery country . At the house of the venerable councillor Adam Scharf there was an assemblage of the brave citizens of every sort. Some whose hoary heads, bowed down with age, seemed to look forward to their last deed of arms, and close beyond it to an honourable grave ; others who, in the midday of life, moved on with lofty resolve ; others, and many more, with fresh colours on their cheeks and bright hopes in their hearts.
Here the two youths, Adelard and Leutwald, were right welcome ; and as every one gladly beheld the latter on account of his graceful songs, so they took no less pleasure in the knightly-trained pupil of their valiant foe, the German Achilles.
THE WOMEN OF WEINSBERG
It was the good King Konrad with all his army lay
Before the town of Weinsberg full many a weary day;
The Guelph at last was vanquished, but still the town held out;
The bold and fearless burghers they fought with courage stout.
But then came hunger, hunger! That was a grievous guest;
They went to ask for favor, but anger met their quest.
"Through you the dust hath bitten full many a worthy knight,
And if your gates you open, the sword shall you requite!"
Then came the women, praying: "Let be as thou hast said,
Yet give us women quarter, for we no blood have shed!"
At sight of these poor wretches the hero's anger failed,
And soft compassion entered and in his heart prevailed.
"The women shall be pardoned, and each with her shall bear
As much as she can carry of her most precious ware;
The women with their burdens unhindered forth shall go,
Such is our royal judgment--we swear it shall be so!"
At early dawn next morning, ere yet the east was bright,
The soldiers saw advancing a strange and wondrous sight;
The gate swung slowly open, and from the vanquished town
Forth swayed a long procession of women weighted down;
For perched upon her shoulders each did her husband bear--
That was the thing most precious of all her household ware.
"We'll stop the treacherous women!" cried all with one intent;
The chancellor he shouted: "This was not what we meant!"
But when they told King Konrad, the good King laughed aloud;
"If this was not our meaning, they've made it so," he vowed,
"A promise is a promise, our loyal word was pledge;
It stands, and no Lord Chancellor may quibble or map hedge."
Thus was the royal scutcheon kept free from stain or blot!
The story has descended from days now half forgot;
'Twas eleven hundred and forty this happened, as I've heard,
Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker
Die Trompete von Gravelotte
Aug. 16, 1870
Death and Destruction they belched forth in vain,
We grimly defied their thunder;
Two columns of foot and batteries twain,
We rode and cleft them asunder.
With brandished sabres, with reins all slack,
Raised standards, and low-couched lances,
Thus we Uhlans and Cuirassiers wildly drove back,
And hotly repelled their advances.
But the ride was a ride of death and of blood;
With our thrusts we forced them to sever;
But of two whole regiments, lusty and good,
Out of two men, one rose never.
With breast shot through, with brow gaping wide,
They lay pale and cold in the valley,
Snatched away in their youth, in their manhood's pride--
Now, Trumpeter, sound to the rally!
And he took the trumpet, whose angry thrill
Urged us on to the glorious battle,
And he blew a blast--but all silent and still
Was the trump, save a dull hoarse rattle,
Save a voiceless wail, save a cry of woe,
That burst forth in fitful throbbing--
A bullet had pierced its metal through,
For the Dead the wounded was sobbing!
For the faithful, the brave, for our brethren all,
For the Watch on the Rhine, true-hearted!
Oh, the sound cut into our inmost soul!--
It brokenly wailed the Departed!
And now fell the night, and we galloped past,
Watch-fires were flaring and flying,
Our chargers snorted, the rain poured fast--
And we thought of the Dead and the Dying!
Like the sun’s uprising light
Shines that maid, before whom fade
Other charms, however bright;
As the stars at break of day,
Late so brilliant, fade away.
When my spirit light had flown
Wanton forth in pleasure’s quest,
Then those beaming have shone
O’er the rover’s path, and led
Home to her from whom it sped.
When again its wing it took
Falcon-like for joy to soar,
Ne’er the gentle spell it broke;
Soon again it sought its home
In that breast it wandered from.
O’er its fear was ever coming
Lest its mistress, at the thought
That for other loves ‘t was roaming,
Vengeful all its joys might blight;
Therefore back it winged its flight.‘
Excerpt, “German Poetry with The English Versions of The Best Translations.” Edited by H.E. Goldschmidt. 1869.
Illustrations by Harry Clarke.
And yet the essential element of him,
As of all such men,
Is not scorching fire…
But shining illuminative light.