Excerpt, “Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field.” The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet. Vol. II, Canto Second. Cadell & Co., Edinburgh: 1830.
Excerpt: “A Book of Ballads from the German.” Translated by Percy Boyd, Esq. 1848.
Excerpt, “Translations from the German Poets of the 18th and 19th Centuries.” By Alice Lucas. London: 1876.
Excerpt, “Echoes: or Leisure Hours with the German Poets.” Translated by A. C. Kendrick. Rochester: 1855.
Before Battle of Dannenberg
Darkly boding, sternly, grimly,
Breaks the great, the awful day;
And the blood-red sun looks dimly
Down upon our bloody way.
In one pregnant hour assembling,
Crowd a nation’s fortunes vast;
And e’en now the lots are trembling,
And the iron die is cast.
Brothers, in holiest compact united,
Warned by the hour, be our solemn vow plighted,
Come life or come death, to be true to the last!
Look we back–night’s raven pinion
Wide o’er shame and insult waves;
O’er our German oak’s dominion
Bowed and broke by foreign slaves.
On our tongue they heaped dishonor,
And our holiest rites blasphemed;
Brothers, we have pawned our honor;
German brothers, be’t redeemed.
Lo, where the flame of heaven’s vengeance is burning!
Up! and its curse from our country be turning!
Up, and be freedom’s lost charter redeemed!
Blessed hopes shine bright before us,
And the future’s golden days;
A whole heaven of bliss hangs o’er us,
Whence fair freedom pours her rays.
Art, all bright thou reappearest!
Song, again thy raptures burn!
Love and beauty, all that’s dearest,
All that’s brightest, see return.
Ye there awaits us a desperate daring;
Blood must be poured all free and unsparing:
Only in blood will our glory’s star burn.
Now-with God-we will not falter,
Boldly meet fate’s heaviest blow,
Lay our hearts on freedom’s altar,
And to death unshrinking go.
Native land, for thee we’ll perish;
All thy bidding will we dare;
They our bosoms fondly cherish
May thy blood-bought freedom share.
Oak of our country, grow broader and bolder!
Stretch thy proud arms o’er the spot where we moulder!
Hear, 0 our country, the oath that we swear!
Now your thoughts toward home’s sweet treasures
Yet for one brief moment cast;
Part ye from those blooming pleasures
Which the South’s fell poisons blast.
Though the silent tear be starting,
Shame shall ne’er such tears attend;
Waft them one last kiss at parting,
Then to God the Loved commend!
All the sweet lips that in prayer are awaking,
All the fond hearts that are bleeding and breaking,
Mighty Jehovah, console and defend!
Cheerly now to battle wending,
Eye and spirit heavenward turn;
Earthly life in darkness ending,
Lo, where heavenly glories burn!
Bravely on, each gallant brother!
Every nerve a hero prove!
Faithful hearts rejoin each other;
Now farewell each earthly love!
Hark ! where the thunders of battle are crashing!
On, where the storm of red lightning is flashing!
Meet again in the realms above!
Excerpt, “The Spirit of German Poetry: A Series of translations from the German Poets, with Critical and Biographical Notices.” Translated by Joseph Gostick. 1845.
Translator’s Note: There is one ballad by Eichendorff, which has pleased us well by its picturesque scenery. The Jacobin Captain rests in a little churchyard in Britany. Raving in the fever of his wound, he confesses that he had burned his own father’s house. At night, he stands on the sea-shore and witnesses a strange spectacle. A priest comes over the quiet sea in a little shallop lit with tapers, and a congregation of worshippers come in their boats and perform their devotions on the waves, as they dare not worship in their church. The Jacobin Captain recognises his own father in the person of the priest, and, overcome with the amazement, falls and dies upon the shore.
The blooming hills of Britany
Were laved by gentle seas;
A little church stood peacefully
Between two ancient trees.
The corn-fields, and the green woods wide,
Were bright in sabbath’s glow;
But not a bell dare o’er the tide
Its solemn music throw.
For o’er the churchyard’s shady ground
The Frenchmen’s standard waves;
Their steeds are cropping, all around,
The daisies from the graves.
Upon the cross, in mockery,
Canteens and sabres hung;
Instead of solemn litany,
The “Marseillaise” was sung.
Sore wounded leaned the Captain there
Against an ancient tree,
And faintly look’d, with feverish stare,
On sultry land and sea;
And talk’d, as in a fever-dream
“Our castle by the lake—
I fired it !—what a fearful gleam!—
It burns for freedom’s sake!
“I see my father—through the rings
Of fire I see him there—
He stands upon the tower, and swings
His banner in the air!
“I see the standard catch the flame,
Again I see my sire,
As, holding still the shaft, he came
Down through the blazing fire!
“He looked at me, but nothing said—
I had no heart to slay—
The castle fell—my father fled—
He’s now a priest, they say!
“And since that night, in all my dreams
I hear the loud bells ring,
And see, amid the fiery streams,
The cross—that hated thing!
“But soon, no church-bell through the land
Shall break the still of night;
No cross upon the earth shall stand,
A sign of priestly might!
“And yonder lowly church-walls there
(We’ll tear them down to-night!)
Shall sound no more with psalms and prayer
—We come to let in light!”
“At night, when woods and waves were still,
And only when he spoke,
The sentinel upon the hill
The dreamy silence broke.
The Captain stood beside the sea—
A soft gray cloud arose,
Upon the waves—what can it be?—
And now it spreads and grows!
And see, amid the misty air,
A tiny twinkling light—
Some little star has fallen there,
Or lost its way to-night.
But see, along the quiet shore,
Where sleep the silent waves,
Dark moving figures, more and more,
Creep from the rocky caves;
And boats are push’d into the sea,
Row’d softly through the night;
The mark they steer for seems to be
That little twinkling light!
The light comes nearer now, afloat,
The rowers all have found it—
It is a little fisher-boat,
With tapers burning round it.
And see, within the shallop stands
An old man tall and gray,
With flowing hair and folded hands,
—A Priest in full array.
And round the floating altar, see,
The boatmen bow their heads:
The old Priest o’er the company
A solemn blessing sheds.
The sea was still, and every breeze—
In marvellous array,
Within their boats, on bended knees,
The congregation lay.
And now, the cross within his hand,
Amid the taper’s glare,
The Captain sees the old Priest stand—
” ‘Tis my old father there!”
Said he, as, with a sudden prayer,
He reel’d and fell and swoon’d,
While life’s blood o’er the shingle there
Was streaming from his wound.
The Jacobin soldiers on the shore
Came, found their Captain dead—
Then—death behind and death before,
Through all the land they fled.
Like wither’d leaves in autumn’s breeze,
They fled and pass’d away—
That little church between the trees
Is standing at this day!
Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels
Nacht und Träume
Holy night, you sink down;
Dreams also float down
As your moonlight fills the room,
Fills the sleeping hearts of men.
They listen with pleasure;
Crying, when the day awakes:
Return, fair night!
Fair dreams, return!
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!