Category Archives: Joseph Christian von Zedlitz


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

Joseph Christian von Zedlitz: “A Wish”

Excerpt, “English Echoes of German Song.” Tr. by R. E. Wallis, J. D. Morell and F. D’Anvers. Ed. by N. D’Anvers. London: 1877.

a wish

J. C. Freiherr von Zedlitz: “The Robber’s Wife”

Excerpt, “Translations from the German Poets of the 18th and 19th Centuries.” By Alice Lucas. London: 1876.

maiden tree

The Robber’s Wife

.

The sun is setting so luridly red,

As though my true-love were prisoned and dead;

They have come down from the rocky hill,

They watch in the vale, they wait by the hill.

.

They crouch in ditches and brushwood high,

Between the ruined old walls they lie;

And the road is held, and the pass is manned,

And on yonder height the sentinels stand.

.

Oh! Sleep, my baby; my little one, sleep,

In the shady grot, by the fountain deep,

And a dainty lullaby I will sing

Of the nightly dance in the elfin ring.

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‘Ye elves, come, weave me’—What is’t I hear?

A shot! ’Twas his followers’ greeting cheer;

And he who receives it his cares are o’er;

He sleeps in peace, and awakes no more.

.

‘Ye elves, come, weave me your floating veil’—

Hark! Shot on shot ringing through the dale;

Up whirls the smoke, with its clouds blue-grey;

Ah! Why is the combat so fierce today?

.

‘Ye elves, come, weave me your floating veil,

For my darling child in your moonlit dale’—

That was his musket, its sound I hear,

None other thunders so loud and clear.

.

And shot upon shot—no travelers they,

The servants of justice seize their prey;

No thought of booty is in that strife;

Alas! they are venturing life for life.

.

Ah, woe is me! How cold is my brow!

My true-love’s shots, they are silent now;

I hear them no more—his musket is hushed;

Oh! How the blood to my heart it rushed!

.

My knees are trembling! Ah! Woe is me!

My child, let us hasten, hasten to flee;

The sun is setting so luridly red,

As though my true-love were lying dead.

 

Joseph Christian Freiherr von Zedlitz: “The Phantom Ship”

Excerpt, “Specimens of the Choicest Lyrical Productions of the Most Celebrated German Poets, from Klopstock to the Present Time.”  With Biographical and Literary Notes translated in English Verse by Mary Anne Burt.  1856.

ghost_ship

The Phantom Ship

O’er billows impetuous grey mists arise,

Each star has withdrawn its ray;

A pennon, ’mid night-winds, tempestuous flies,

On a Ship that darts o’er the spray:

That Vessel is steered by a Phantom’s hand,

Midst hurricane fierce, and storm;

She braveth each tempest—each rocky strand;

In that Ship lives no human form.

.

Afar, where each billow, in silence, lies,

A lonesome Island is found;

There, a rock, toward the Heavens, doth proudly rise,

That rock circling clouds surround.

There springeth no grass—no tree grows there,

No bird doth her offspring rear,

The eagle alone, as he roves through air,

Surveyeth that region drear.

.

Around the King’s tomb, on the dreary Isle,

Loud whirlwinds impetuous fly;

Sword, helmet, and sceptre old, awhile,

On the Monarch’s coffin lie.

No mortal there dwells: the world’s rushing wave,

On his wearied ear, sounds not;

No tear of affection bedews the grave

Of the Sleeper on that chill spot.

.

Moons change in the Heavens—as years glide away,

The Dead, immoveably lies;

Yet, annually, on the Fifth of May,

The Shade doth awaken, and rise!

The Spirit that Night, impatient of rest,

Through terrestrial regions doth stray:

On that Night—of vitality possessed,

’Mid earth he directs his way—

.

Near that Isle is a Ship, winds swell each sail,

For distant realms is she bound;

A Pennon there hovers amid the gale,

Golden Bees on a snow-white ground.

On board, the lone Monarch repairs, in haste,

With an eagle’s impetuous speed,

No helm guides the Ship o’er the dreary waste,

No pilot that Ship doth lead!

.

The Shade of the Monarch is there alone,

His eye pierces through mists of night;

How heaveth his breast with a heart-felt moan!

His eye darts consuming light,

The Ship steers on—on towards the well-known strand;

Rejoiced, his arm he extends,

With soul enraptured, he views his land,

O’er his Land his glance he bends.

.

The King leaves the Ship, and his foot doth rest

On that loved, that sunny shore;

How trembles the earth, as glides o’er her breast,

That Star whose light is veiled o’er!

He seeketh his City—’tis vanished now,

His People he seeketh in vain;

When the sun-beams of Glory circled his brow,

They flocked round him like waves of the main!

.

He seeketh his Throne—in dust is it hurled—

That Throne which aspired so high;

That Throne from which he surveyed the world,

At his feet, as a footstool lie!

The King seeks his heart’s best treasure—his Child,

Whose Heritage was a throne—

That Birthright was scattered by tempests wild,

Where, now, is the Monarch’s son?

.

“Where art thou, oh Child! Who, in infancy,

With coronets used to play?

On his breast, as a Parent fondled thee,

Bliss terrestrial passed away!

Oh, my cherished Wife! Oh, my offspring dear!

Extinct is the Sovereign’s race!

On the regal throne doth a menial appear,

And the King has a menial’s place!”

 

J.C. von Zedlitz: “Genius is the Sun”

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

Johann Christian, Baron von Zedlitz was born February 28, 1790 at Johannesberg in upper Silesia. He was in the Austrian military service, from 1810 imperial chamberlain, and died at Vienna March 10, 1862.

Ellenrieder_Kniendes_Mädchen

Genius is the Sun

 

A core of light with thousand rays is streaming,

It’s God-enkindled origin to warrant,

’Tis Genius in the Sun when life awakens,

And ripens all, a fertilizing torrent.

What glass soever may her image picture

May she in song her dauntless flight be winging,

All hearts together bringing,

The Highest still she seeketh, that she knoweth,

Long since the common world to wreck had tumbled

Without her, and long since to dust had crumbled

The halls of that fair fane where Heaven’s fire gloweth,

She is the spring whence life eternal trilleth,

From Life she comes, she only life instilleth..