Matthias Claudius: “Night-Song”

Excerpt, “German Lyric Poetry:  A Collection of Songs and Ballads.”  Translated from the Best German Lyric Poets, with Notes by Charles Timothy Brooks.  1863.

Matthias Claudius: “The Moon”

.The Moon.

.

Goethe: “Mephisto’s Song of the Flea”

By Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), “Aus Goethe’s Faust“, op. 75 no. 3 (1809). Translator: Anna Swanwick, 1850.,,

devils12a

“Aus Goethes Faust: Mephistos Floh Lied”

 

A king there was once reigning,

Who had a goodly flea,

Him loved he without feigning,

As his own son were he!

 

His tailor then he summon’d,

The tailor to him goes;

Now measure me the youngster

For jerkin and for hose!

 

In satin and in velvet

Behold the younker dressed;

Bedizen’d o’er with ribbons,

A cross upon his breast.

 

Prime minister they made him,

He wore a star of state;

And all his poor relations

Were courtiers, rich and great.

 

The gentlemen and ladies

At court were sore distressed;

The queen and all her maidens

Were bitten by the pest,

 

And yet they dared not scratch them,

Or chase the fleas away.

If we are bit, we catch them

And crack them without delay..’

Ludwig Halirsch: “The Watchman on the Tower”

Excerpt, “The Spirit of German Poetry:  A Series of translations from the German Poets, with Critical and Biographical Notices.”   Translated by Joseph Gostick.  1845.

 

Bismarck: Letters to Johanna 3/3

Excerpt, “German Classics of the 19th and 20th Centuries,” Vol. X, 1914; translator Charlton T. Lewis et al.

Thought goes before the deed as lightning precedes thunder.
German thunder is indeed German, and not in a hurry,
and it comes rolling slowly onward;
but come it will,
and when ye hear it crash as naught ever crashed before
in the whole history of the world,
then know that der deutsche Donner,
our German thunder,
has at last hit its mark.

At that sound the eagles will fall dead from on high,
the lions in remotest deserts in Africa will draw in their tails
and creep into their royal caves.
There will be played in Germany a drama compared to which
the French Revolution will be only an innocent idyll.

Just now all is tolerably quiet,
and if here and there someone behaves in a lively manner,
do not believe that the great actors have as yet
appeared upon the stage.
They are only the little dogs who run round in the amphitheatre,
and bark and bite one another,
before the hour begins when the great array of gladiators will enter,
and war to the death … or for life.

Heinrich Heine, 1834

Vendresse, September 3, 1870.
To MRS. VON BISMARCK:
My Dear Heart,
Day before yesterday I left my quarters here before dawn, but came back today, and have meanwhile been through the great battle of Sedan on the 1st, in which we took some thirty thousand prisoners, and shut the remainder of the French army, which we had chased ever since Bar-le-Duc, into the fortress, where they had to surrender, with the Emperor, as prisoners of war.
At five yesterday morning, after I had discussed the terms of capitulation with Moltke and the French generals till one o’clock, General Reille, whom I know, called me up to say that Napoleon wished to speak with me. Without washing or breakfast, I rode towards Sedan, found the Emperor in an open carriage with three adjutants, and three more at hand in the saddle, on the main road before Sedan.
I dismounted, saluted him as politely as in the Tuileries, and asked his commands. He desired to see the King. I told him, as was true, that his Majesty’s quarters were fourteen miles away, at the place where I am writing now. Upon his question, whither he should betake himself, I offered him, since I was unfamiliar with the region, my quarters in Donchery, a village on the Maas close to Sedan; he accepted them, and drove, escorted by his six Frenchmen, by me; and by Carl, who meanwhile had ridden after me, through the lovely morning, towards our lines.
He was distressed before reaching the place because of the possible crowds, and asked me if he might not stop at a lonely workman’s house on the road. I had it examined by Carl, who reported that it was wretched and dirty. “N’importe,” said Napoleon, and I mounted with him a narrow, rickety stairway. In a room ten feet square, with a fig-wood table and two rush-bottomed chairs, we sat an hour, the others staying below. A mighty contrast to our last interview, in ’67, at the Tuileries.
Our conversation was difficult, if I would avoid touching on things which must be painful to those whom God’s mighty hand had overthrown. Through Carl, I had officers brought from the city, and Moltke requested to come. We then sent out one of the first to reconnoitre, and discovered, a couple of miles off, at Fresnoi’s, a little château with a park. Thither I conducted him, with an escort of the Cuirassier body-guards, which was meanwhile brought up, and there we concluded the capitulation with Wimpfen, the French general-in-chief. By its terms, from forty to sixty thousand French–I do not yet know the number more exactly–became our prisoners, with everything they have.
The two receding days cost France one hundred thousand men and an emperor. He started early this morning, with all his court, horses, and wagons, for Wilhelmshöhe, at Cassel. It is an event in universal history, a triumph for which we will thank God the Lord in humility, and which is decisive of the war, even though we must continue to prosecute it against headless France.
I must close. With heartfelt joy I have learned today, from your letter and Marie’s, of Herbert’s reaching you. I met Bill yesterday, as I telegraphed you, and took him to my arms from his horse before the King’s face, while he stood with his limbs rigid. He is entirely well and in high spirits. Hans and Fritz Carl and both the Billows I saw with the Second Dragoon guards, well and cheerful.
Farewell, my heart. Kiss the children.
Your v.B.

Bismarck and Napoleon

 Napoleon III. and Bismarck on the way to Wilhelm I on the morning after the battle of Sedan. Wilhelm Camphausen, 1877.

Bismarck: Letters to Johanna 2/3

Excerpt, “German Classics of the 19th and 20th Centuries,” Vol. X, 1914; translator Charlton T. Lewis et al.

If we are not unmeasured in our claims
And do not imagine we have conquered the world,
We shall achieve a peace that is worth the trouble.

Otto von Bismarck

 Hohenmauth, Monday, September 7, '66.*
Do you remember, sweetheart, how we passed through here nineteen years ago, on the way from Prague to Vienna? No mirror showed the future then, nor in 1852, when I went over this railway with good Lynar. How strangely romantic are God’s ways! We are doing well, in spite of Napoleon; if we are not unmeasured in our claims and do not imagine we have conquered the world, we shall achieve a peace that is worth the trouble. But we are as easily intoxicated as disheartened, and it is my thankless part to pour water into the foaming wine, and to insist that we do not live alone in Europe, but with three other powers which hate and envy us.
The Austrians hold position in Moravia, and we are bold enough to announce our headquarters for tomorrow at the point where they are now. Prisoners still keep passing in, and cannon, one hundred and eighty from the 3d to today. If they bring up their southern army, we shall, with God’s gracious help, defeat it too; confidence is universal. Our people are ready to embrace one another, every man so deadly in earnest, calm, obedient, orderly, with empty stomach, soaked clothes, wet camp, little sleep, shoe-soles dropping off, kindly to all, no sacking or burning, paying what they can and eating mouldy bread.
There must surely be a solid basis of fear of God in the common soldier of our army, or all this could not be. News of our friends is hard to get; we lie miles apart from one another, none knowing where the other is, and nobody to send–that is, men might be had, but no horses. For four days I have had search made for Philip, who was slightly wounded by a lance-thrust in the head, as Gerhard wrote me, but I can’t find out where he is, and we have now come thirty-seven miles farther.
The King exposed himself greatly on the 3d and it was well I was present, for all the warnings of others had no effect, and no one would have dared to talk so sharply to him as I allowed myself to do on the last occasion, which gave support to my words, when a knot of ten cuirassiers and fifteen horses of the Sixth Cuirassier Regiment rushed confusedly by us, all in blood, and the shells whizzed around most disagreeably close to the King.
He cannot yet forgive me for having blocked for him the pleasure of being hit. “At the spot where I was forced by order of the supreme authority to run away,” were his words only yesterday, pointing his finger angrily at me. But I like it better so than if he were excessively cautious. He was full of enthusiasm over his troops, and justly so rapt that he seemed to take no notice of the din and fighting close to him, calm and composed as at the Kreuzberg, and constantly meeting battalions that he must thank with “Good-evening, grenadiers,” till we were actually by this trifling brought under fire again. But he has had to hear so much of this that he will stop it for the future, and you may feel quite easy; indeed, I hardly believe there will be another real battle.
When you have of anybody no word whatever, you may assume with confidence that he is alive and well; for if acquaintances are wounded it is always known at latest in twenty-four hours. We have not come across Herwarth and Steinmetz at all, nor has the King. Schreck, too, I have not seen, but I know they are well. Gerhard keeps quietly at the head of his squadron, with his arm in a sling.
Farewell–I must to business.
Your faithfullest v.B.
~~~~~
Zwittau, Moravia, July 11, ’66.
Dear Heart,
I have no inkstand, all of them being in use; but for the rest I get on well, after a good sleep on a camp bed with air mattress; roused at eight by a letter from you. I went to bed at eleven. At Königgrätz I rode the big sandy thirteen hours in the saddle without feeding him. He bore it very well, did not shy at shots nor at corpses, cropped standing grain and plum-leaves with zest at the most trying moments, and kept up an easy gait to the last, when I was more tired than the horse. My first bivouac for the night was on the street pavement of Horic, with no straw, but helped by a carriage cushion.
It was full of wounded; the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg found me and shared his chamber with me, Reuss, and two adjutants, and the rain made this very welcome to me. About the King and the shells I have written you already. All the generals had a superstition that they, as soldiers, must not speak to the King of danger, and always sent me off to him, though I am a major, too. They did not venture to speak to his reckless Majesty in the serious tone which at last was effectual. Now at last he is grateful to me for it, and his sharp words, “How you drove me off the first time,” etc., are an acknowledgment that I was right. Nobody knew the region, the King had no guide, but rode right on at random, till I obtruded myself to show the way.
Farewell, my heart. I must go to the King.
Your most faithful v.B.

544px-BismarckRoonMoltke

Minister-President Otto von Bismarck; Minister of War Albrecht von Roon;

Helmuth Karl von Moltke, Chief of the Prussian General Staff.

Bismarck: Letters to Johanna 1/3

Excerpt, “German Classics of the 19th and 20th Centuries,” Vol. X, 1914; translator Charlton T. Lewis et al.

For I married you in order to love you in God
And according to the need of my heart,
And in order to have in the midst of the strange world
A place for my heart,
Which all the world’s bleak winds cannot chill,
And where I might find the warmth of the home fire,
To which I eagerly betake myself when
It is stormy and cold without.
Otto von Bismarck
Berlin, April 28, 1851.
My Dear Sweetheart,
Mother’s premonition that I would remain long away has, unfortunately, proved correct this time. The King was the first to propose my nomination, and that at once, as a real delegate to the Diet; his plan has, of course, encountered much opposition, and has finally been so modified that Rochow will, it is true, remain Minister at Petersburg, whither he is to return in two months, but meanwhile, provisionally, he is commissioned to Frankfort, and I am to accompany him, with the assurance that, on his leaving for Petersburg, I shall be his successor. But this last is between ourselves.
Now I want to go, first of all, to Frankfort, and take a look at the situation, and hear how I shall stand pecuniarily pending my definite appointment, of which I know nothing at all as yet. Then I shall see whether I can leave again shortly after the start, and whether I am to count on staying any longer; for, although I have, indeed, accepted, still I am not yet sufficiently familiar with the ground to be able to say definitely whether I shall stay there or shortly get out again. As soon as that is decided, we shall probably, after all, have to consider for you, too, the prospect of exchanging your quiet Reinfeld existence for the noise of the Diet’s diplomacy.
Your folks have often complained that nothing was made of me by those above me; now this is, beyond my expectations and wishes, a sudden appointment to what is at this moment the most important post in our diplomatic service; I have not sought it; I must assume that the Lord wished it, and I cannot withdraw, although I foresee that it will be an unfruitful and a thorny office, in which, with the best intentions, I shall forfeit the good opinion of many people. But it would be cowardly to decline.
I cannot give you today further particulars as to our plans, how we shall meet, what will be done about your going to the seashore; only I shall try to make leisure, if possible, to see you before. I feel almost like crying when I think of this sudden upsetting of our innocent plans, as well as of the uncertainty when I shall see you again, my beloved heart, and the babies; and I earnestly pray God to arrange it all without detriment to our earthly welfare and without harm to my soul.
God be with you, my dear, and bring us together again soon.
With heartfelt love.
Your most faithful v.B.
~~~~~
Frankfort, May 14, 1851.
My Little Dear,
It seems to be getting constantly more certain that I shall take Rochow’s position in the summer. In that event, if the rating remains as it was, I shall have a salary of twenty-one thousand rix-dollars, but I shall have to keep a large train and household establishment and you, my poor child, must sit stiff and sedate in the drawing-room, be called Excellency, and be clever and wise with Excellencies. The city is not so bad as you suppose; there are a great many charming villas before the gates, similar to those in the Thiergarten, only more sunny.
As Councilor of Legation, it will be difficult for us to live there, owing to distance and expense; but as Ambassador, quite as charming as is possible in a foreign land.By letters of introduction I have quickly become acquainted with the charming world hereabouts. Yesterday I dined with the English Ambassador, Lord Cowley, nephew of the Duke of Wellington; very kind, agreeable people; she is an elegant woman of about forty, very worldly, but benevolent and easy to get acquainted with; I have immediately put myself on a friendly footing with her, so that when you step into the cold bath of diplomatic society she may be a powerful support for you.
Previously I called on a Frau von Stallupin (pronounce Stolipine), a young woman without children, kindly, like all Russian women, but terribly rich, and settled in a little castle-like villa, so that one hardly dares to take a step or to sit down; a Scharteuck interior is a rude barn compared with it.Day before yesterday evening I called on Frau von Vrintz, a sister of Meyendorf’s wife; the diplomatic folks assemble every evening in her drawing-room. Countess Thun was there, a very handsome young woman, in the style of Malvinia; also the Marquis de Tallenay, French Ambassador, a polite fifty-year-old; Count Szechenyi, a gay young Magyar, full of pranks, and divers other foreign personages.
They gamble there every evening, the lady of the house, too, and not for very low stakes; I was scolded for declaring it boresome, and told them it would be my rôle to laugh at those who lost. Society probably does not appeal to you very strongly, my beloved heart, and it seems to me as though I were harming you by bringing you into it, but how shall I avoid that?
I have one favor to ask of you, but keep it to yourself, and do not let mother suspect that I have written you one word about it, otherwise she will worry needlessly over it: occupy yourself with French as much as you can in the meantime, but let it be thought that you yourself have discovered that it is useful. Read French, but, if you love me, do not do so by artificial light, or if our eyes pain you; in that case you had better ask mother to read to you, for it is almost harder to understand than to speak. If you know of any agreeable piece of baggage you can get in a hurry to chatter French to you, then engage one; I will gladly pay the bill.
You will enter here an atmosphere of French spirit and talk, anyway; so you cannot avoid familiarizing yourself with it as far as possible. If you know of no person whom you like and who is available, let it go; and, at any rate, I beg you sincerely not to consider this advice as a hardship, or otherwise than if I asked you to buy yourself a green or a blue dress; it is not a matter of life and death; you are my wife, and not the diplomats’, and they can just as well learn German as you can learn French. Only if you have leisure, or wish to read anyway, take a French novel; but if you have no desire to do so, consider this as not written.
For I married you in order to love you in God and according to the need of my heart, and in order to have in the midst of the strange world a place for my heart, which all the world’s bleak winds cannot chill, and where I may find the warmth of the home-fire, to which I eagerly betake myself when it is stormy and cold without; but not to have a society woman for others, and I shall cherish and nurse your little fireplace, put wood on it and blow, and protect it against all that is evil and strange, for, next to God’s mercy, there is nothing which is dearer and more necessary to me than your love, and the homelike hearth which stands between us everywhere, even in a strange land, when we are together.
Do not be too much depressed and sad over the change of our life; my heart is not attached, or, at least, not strongly attached, to earthly honor; I shall easily dispense with it if it should ever endanger our peace with God or our contentment.
Farewell, my dearly beloved heart. Kiss the children for me, and give your parents my love.
Your most faithful v.B.

Bismarck and Johanna

Heinrich Heine: The Romantic School

The Poets of Legend: Goethe. Schiller and … Heinrich Heine.A favorite among Lieder composers, Heine’s literary works comprise twenty volumes, Die Romantische Schule two of them. Published in French and German 1833-36; this translation by Charles Godfrey Leland. Below, the great Poet’s thoughts on Novalis and Hoffmann.
But what was the Romantic School in Germany? It was nothing else but the Reawakening of the Middle Ages … its songs, images and architecture, in art and in life.
I have little to say regarding Schelling’s relationship to the Romantic School. His influence was mostly personal, but since the Philosophy of Nature through him has sprung into life and into vogue, Nature has been much more intelligently grasped by poets. Some are absorbed with all their human feelings into Nature; others have noted certain magic forms by means of which something human can be made to look forth and speak from it. The former are the true mystics, and resemble in many respects the Indian devotees who sink into Nature, and at last begin to feel in common with it. The others are more like enchanters, who, by their own power of will, evoked even fiends; they are like the Arabian sorcerers, who could animate every stone, or petrify, as they pleased, every living being.
To the first of these belong Novalis; to the second, Hoffmann.
Novalis saw everywhere the marvelous,
And, in its loveliness and beauty,
He listened to the language of the plants;
He knew the secret
Of every young rose, he identified himself with all
Nature; and when the autumn came and
the leaves fell, he died.
Hoffmann, on the contrary, saw spectres everywhere; they nodded to him from every Chinese teapot and every Berlin wig; he was a magician who changed men into brutes, and these again into Royal Prussian court counselors. He could call the dead from their graves, but he repulsed life from himself like a dismal ghost. And thus he felt he himself had become a spectre; all Nature was to him like a badly-ground mirror, in which he, distorted in a thousand ways, saw only his own death mask, and his works are only one terrible cry of agony in twenty volumes.
Hoffmann did not belong to the Romantic School. He was in no way allied to the Schlegels, and still less to their tendencies. I only mention him here in opposition to Novalis, who was really a poet of that kind. Novalis is less well known in France than Hoffmann, whom Loeve-Veimars has placed before the public in such admirable form, and thereby attained such a reputation.
By us inGermany, Hoffmann is no longer in fashion, but once it was otherwise. Once he was very much read, but only by men whose nerves were too strong or too weak to be affected by soft accords. Men of true genius and poetic natures would hear nothing of him; they, by far, preferred Novalis.
But, honestly speaking, Hoffmann was, as a poet. far superior to Novalis, for the latter always sweeps in the air with his ideal forms, while Hoffmann, with all his odd imps, sticks to earthly reality. But as the giant Antaeus remained invincibly strong while his feet touched his mother earth, and lost his strength when Hercules raised him in the air, so is the poet strong and powerful so long as he does not leave the basis of reality, but becomes weak when whirling about in the blue air.
The great resemblance in these poets lies in this: That in both their poetry is really a malady, and in this relation it has been declared that judgment as to their works was the business of a physician rather than a critic. The rosy gleam in the glow of Novalis is not the glow of health; and the purple heat in Hoffmann’s Phantasiestücken is not the flame of genius but of fever.
But have we the right to make such remarks, we who are not blessed with excess of health, above all at present; when literature resembles a vast lazar-house? Or is it perhaps poetry is a disease of mankind, just as the pearl is only the material of a disease which the poor oyster suffers?
Novalis was born May 2, 1772. His real name was Hardenberg. He loved a young lady who suffered from and died of consumption. This sad story inspired all his writings; his life was a dreamy dying in consequence, and he himself died of consumption in 1801, before he had completed his twenty-ninth year, or his novel.
This work as it exists is only the fragment of a great allegorical poem, which, like “Divine Comedy” of Dante, was to treat earnestly all things of earth and heaven. Heinrich von Ofterdingen, the famous poet, is the hero.
We see him as a youth in Eisenach, the charming town which lies at the foot of old Wartburg, where the greatest and also the stupidest things have been done; that is, where Luther translated the Bible, and certain idiotic Teutomaniacs burned the Gendarme Code of Herr Kamptz. There too in that castle was held the greatest contest of minstrels where among other poets Heinrich von Ofterdingen sang in the dangerous contest with Klingsohr of Hungary, an account of which has been preserved in the Manesse collection. He who was vanquished was to lose his head, and the Landgrave ofThuringia was to be the judge. The Wartburg rises as with mysterious signification over the cradle of the hero, and the beginning of the novel shows him in the paternal home of Eisenach.
The parents are still sleeping, the hanging clock beats monotonously, the wind blows against the rattling windows; now and then the room is lighted by the rays of the moon. The youth lays restlessly on the couch, thinking of the stranger and of his tales.
“It was not the treasure,” he said to himself, “which awoke in me such unutterable desire; all covetousness is far from me; but I long to see the Blue Flower. It haunts me all the time, and I can think and fancy of nothing else.”
Heinrich von Ofterdingen begins with such words, and the Blue Flower sheds it light and breathes its perfume through the whole romance. It is marvelous and full of meaning that the most imaginary characters of this book seem to us as real as if we had known them long ago.
Old memories awaken. The Muse of Novalis was a slender snow-white maid with serious blue eyes, golden hyacinthine locks and smiling lips … and I imagine it was the same damsel – the Muse of Novalis – who made me aware of him.

Novalis

Novalis

Sable

Goethe: “The Fisherman”

the fisherman

Fisherman and the Siren by Lord Frederic Leighton

THE FISHERMAN
1778

The waters rush'd, the waters rose,
A fisherman sat by,
While on his line in calm repose
He cast his patient eye.
And as he sat, and hearken'd there,
The flood was cleft in twain,
And, lo! a dripping mermaid fair
Sprang from the troubled main.

She sang to him, and spake the while
"Why lurest thou my brood,
With human wit and human guile
From out their native flood?
Oh, couldst thou know how gladly dart
The fish across the sea,
Thou wouldst descend, e'en as thou art,
And truly happy be!

Do not the sun and moon with grace
Their forms in ocean lave?
Shines not with twofold charms their face,
When rising from the wave?
The deep, deep heavens, then lure thee not,--
The moist yet radiant blue,--
Not thine own form,--to tempt thy lot
'Midst this eternal dew?"

The waters rush'd, the waters rose,
Wetting his naked feet;
As if his true love's words were those,
His heart with longing beat.
She sang to him, to him spake she,
His doom was fix'd, I ween;
Half drew she him, and half sank he,
And ne'er again was seen.

.

Friedrich Halm: “My Heart…”

.Excerpt, “Translations From The German Poets.” Edward Stanhope Pearson. 1879.

 

ladyknightdog

 

My heart, I fain would ask thee,

What call’st thou love, expound?

“Two souls with one thought between them,

Two hearts with one pulse-bound!”

.

And say, from whence love cometh:

“She comes, and lo, she’s there!”

And say, how doth love vanish?

“If so, love never were.”

.

And when is love the purest?

“When she herself excludes!”

And when is love the deepest?

“When silentest she broods!”

.

And when is love the richest?

“Then when with gifts she’s fraught!”

And say, what is’t love speaketh?

“She loves, but speaketh nought!”

 

 

 

Friedrich Hölderlin: “The God of Youth”

“The Poetry of Germany, Consisting from Upwards of Seventy of the Most Celebrated Poets.”  Translated into English Verse by Alfred Baskerville.  1853.

plants3

The God of Youth

 .

Should in the twilight’s shadows,

When on a summer’s night,

Thy loving eye is watching,

For visions fair and bright,

The manes of friends flit by me,

And, like the starry skies,

The spirits of the Titans

Of ancient days arise.

 .

Should of love’s restless longing

Within thy breast subside,

Where, wrapt in beauty’s mantle,

The godlike loves to hide,

And should the heart’s endeavour

In peace reap its award,

And should with tuneful accents,

Resound the soul’s accord;

 .

Seek in the stillest valley

The flowers’ richest shrine,

And pour from golden goblet

The glad libation wine!

Still smiles in verdant freshness

The heart’s sweet spring in thee,

The God of Youth still ruleth

O’er thee, as over me.

 .

And when the bard sat musing

In Tibur’s shady grot,

And, wrapt in dreams of Heaven,

The flight of time forgot;

When waving elms refreshed him,

When proudly there below,

Played round the silver blossoms

The waves of Anio;

 .

And as in Plato’s bowers,

When through the bosquet’s green,

By nightingale’s saluted,

The star of love was seen;

When all the zephyrs slumbered

And, rippled by the swan,

Cephisus through the olives

And myrtle-bushes ran;

’Tis still on earth as lovely!

Our bosom, too, o’er flows

With blessings of kind Nature,

Her life, peace, and repose;

Still bloometh Heaven’s beauty,

Still in our bosoms ring,

Commingled and fraternal,

The peaceful tones of Spring.

 .

Hence in the stillest valley

Seek the most perfum’d shrine,

And pour from golden goblet

The glad libation wine.

Still smiles in verdant freshness

Earth’s image upon thee,

The God of Youth still ruleth,

O’er thee, as over me.

.

Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz: “The Midnight Review”

Excerpt, “Specimens of the Choicest Lyrical Productions of the Most Celebrated German Poets, from Klopstock to the Present Time,” translated in English verse by Mary Anne Burt. London: 1855.
Joseph Christian, Baron von Zedlitz, was born the 28th of February, 1789 at the castle of Joahannisberg, near Jauernick, in the western part of Silesia. After having pursued his preliminary studies at the College of Breslaw, he entered a Hussar regiment. In 1809, he became lieutenant, and two months later he obtained the rank of first lieutenant, and as ordinance officer of Prince Hohenzollern, he took part in the battle of Ratisbone, Aspern, and Wagram, but shortly afterwards, for family reasons, he quitted the military service.
Since the year 1810 the Baron von Zedlitz has held the office of Chamberlain to H. M. the Emperor of Austria: he was, during a long time, private secretary to Prince Metternich. Since 1845, he has been Charge d’affaires to the Duke of Nassau, and, towards the end of the year 1851 he exercised, at the court of Austria, the same functions for the Duke of Brunswick.
Schiller has remarked: “Der Mensch waechst mit seiner Zwecken.” (“Man grows with his Designs.”) We may also with justice say: a man becomes great, or insignificant, according to the circle in which he lives. These words may be applied to the Poet Zedlitz. His poetry is as brilliant as that sphere in which he has moved; there is a measure, even in his sentiments, which are invariably expressed in a language, equally harmonious and pleasing…MAB, 1855.

vive-lempereur-l

 The Midnight Review

Lo! – by solemn midnight gloom,

The Drummer, from sleep, awakes,

And, arising from the tomb,

With his drum the rounds he makes.

On the drum, with his fleshless arm,

He announces the Review,

The Drummer sounds an alarm,

Rap! Rap! – he beats the tattoo.

What reverberating tone

From the drum, around is spread!

Battalions, from church-yards lone,

Are awakened from the dead!

From the northern church-yards drear,

Where, in snow and ice, they lie,

From tombs, in the sourthern sphere,

‘Neath a warm Italian sky.

Warriors that sleep by the Nile,

And those ‘neath Arabian sand,

Arising, stand rank and file,

And they grasp their sword in hand.

Ere twelve at night is past,

From his tomb the Trumpeter glides,

How piercing and shrill the blast,

As to and fro, he rides!

See! – on chargers, proud and gay,

The cavalry-troops appear;

The squadrons, in war’s array,

Bear ensanguined sword, and spear.

The ghastly skulls, bleached snow-white,

“Neath their brilliant helmets, glare,

‘Neath the pale and hazy moonlight,

They brandish their weapons there!

Twelve striketh:prophetic sound!

The Commander quits his grave;

He slowly rides o’er the ground,

With his Staff – sons of the brave.

What a small, strange hat he weareth!

His venture bespeaks not pride;

The august Commander beareth

A two-edg’d sword, by his side!

The moon’s pale, nebulous rays

Illume the extensive plain;

The Commander-in-chief surveys

The assembled, martial train.

The regiments march, rank and file,

Present arms, stand in review,

And, by the music’s sound, awhile,

He rides ‘mid his followers true.

Marshals and generals near

Their Commander flock around;

And he whispereth in the ear

Of one, a mysterious sound.

“France!” – the soul-thrilling Password,

From cohort to cohort flies,-

“Saint Helena!” – vibrating is heard,

“St. Helena!” – Echo replies.

When the hour of midnight tolls

On the wide Elysian plain,

That Review, mighty Caesar holds

With his valiant, martial train!

..

Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz

Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz

Anastasius Grün: “The Muse Called to Judgment”

Excerpt, “The Spirit of German Poetry:  A Series of translations from the German Poets, with Critical and Biographical Notices. ”   Translated by Joseph Gostick.  1845.