Category Archives: August von Platen


August von Platen: “My Heart, Thy Voice”

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

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O let me read thee well,
Thy heart I fain would see.
Oh what a magic spell
Speaks in thy voice to me!

So many phrases rush
At random in our ear,
And when their echoes hush,
The heart is cold and drear.

E’en when thy distant voice,
Doth in my ear resound.
I listen and rejoice,
And ne’er forget the sound.

I tremble as I glow,
With flames I cannot quell;
My heart, thy voice, they know,
Each other but too well.

August Graf von Platen: “In The Night”

Excerpt, “German Poetry with The English Versions of The Best Translations.” Edited by H.E. Goldschmidt.  1869. Translated by Richard Garnett.

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August von Platen: “The Passage of the Poles by Night from Cracow”

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

The Great Emigration involved the emigration of political elites from Poland from 1831 to 1870. The name is somewhat misleading, as the number of political exiles did not exceed more than 5,000-6,000 during this time.The exiles included the soldiers and generals of the uprising, the Sejm of Congress Poland of 1830-1, and several prisoners-of-war who escaped captivity. From the end of the 18th century, a major role in Polish political life was played by people who carried out their activities outside the country as émigrés. Their exile resulted from the Partitions of Poland, which completely divided the lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria. Because of this emigration of political elites, much of the political and ideological activity of the Polish intelligentsia during the 18th and 19th centuries took place outside of the lands of partitioned Poland. Read more here. 

MWP_1830_Le_réfugié_polonais

The Passage of the Poles by Night from Cracow

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The chilly breezes blow,

In sadness do we go,

Led on by Destiny,

O’ershadowed is each star,

While Europe, from afar,

Looks on the tragedy.

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Oft turning back our head,

Upon the bridge we tread,

That quits our native land,

By torch-light’s sombre glow,

They who our sorrows know,

Salute us on the strand.

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Sold, vanquished and betrayed,

Our noblest actions fade

Like vain and empty dreams,

No trace behind remains.

Farewell, beloved plains,

Ye valleys, hills, and streams!

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Farewell! In every land

Will a life-wearied band

Find in the grave a home,

It is not death we flee,

No, ’tis but to be free,

We take our staff and roam.

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From wife and child, from all,

We part, our country’s fall,

We may not hinder more

For, lo! The knout of Russia,

And scourging steel of Prussia,

Are thirsting for our gore.

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A tearless soul abhorred

Was given us as lord,

A stony heart unbent;

Born of a murd’rous race,

His forehead bears the trace

That brandeth his descent.

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Let glory’s crown, O fame,

Illume our humble name!

Pour balm on every scar!

Then smart the wounds of none,

For Poland’s humblest son

Is greater than the Czar.

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Alone inherit we

Our struggle’s memory

That leagued each Polish band,

Of war the pain and toil,

A handful of the soil

Snatched from our Fatherland.

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O happy they who drained

The cup of Death, and gained

The laurels of the brave!

And ye, Volhynia’s sons,

From agony’s death-groans

Freed by the cold damp grave!

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They urge the reeking steed,

Enclosed by foes, and speed

The Vistula to gain,

The stranger’s shore their goal;

Then swelled their noble soul,

Oppressed by woe and pain.

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It wrung their hearts to roam,

Ne’er more to see their home,

Of every wish the meed;

Then rushed the good and brave

Headlong into the wave

With weapon and with steed.

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O thou, their country’s flood,

Who long hast swelled with blood,

Receive the valiant dead!

Soon wilt thou reach the sea;

O bear the corpses free

On to free Ocean’s bed.

 

 

 

August von Platen-Hallermünde: “Fair as the Day”

Excerpt, “The Sonnets of Europe: A Volume of Translations.” Selected and Arranged with Notes by Samuel Waddington. 1885.

Fair as the Day

Fair as the day that bodes as fair a morrow,

With noble brow, with eyes in heaven’s dew,

Of tender years, and charming as the new,

So found I thee—so found I, too, my sorrow.

O, could I shelter in thy bosom borrow,

There most collected where the most unbent!

O, would this coyness were already spent,

That aye adjourns our union till tomorrow!

But canst thou hate me? Art thou yet unshaken?

Wherefore refusest thou the soft confession

To him who loves, yet feels himself forsaken?

Oh, when thy future love doth make expression,

An anxious rapture will the moment waken,

As with a youthful prince at his accession.

 

 

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Platen: “Would I were free…”

 


WOULD I WERE FREE AS ARE MY DREAMS
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Would I were free as are my dreams,
Sequestered from the garish crowd
To glide by banks of quiet streams
Cooled by the shadow-drifting cloud!
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Free to shake off this weary weight
Of human sin, and rest instead
On Nature's heart inviolate--
All summer singing o'er my head!
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There would I never disembark,
Nay, only graze the flowery shore
To pluck a rose beneath the lark,
Then go my liquid way once more,
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And watch, far off, the drowsy lines
Of herded cattle crop and pass,
The vintagers among the vines,
The mowers in the dewy grass;
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And nothing would I drink or eat
Save heaven's clear sunlight and the spring
Of earth's own welling waters sweet,
That never make the pulses sting.

August von Platen: How I roused myself in the Night

Wie rafft’ ich mich auf in der Nacht

by August von Platen-Hallermünde (1796-1835): 1820.

Set by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) , op. 32 (Neun Lieder und Gesänge) no. 1 (1864). Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust, from The Lied & Art Song Texts Page

Oh, how I roused myself in the night, in the night.

And felt myself drawn further;

I left the alleys, guarded by the watchmen,

And wandered through quietly,

In the night, in the night,

The gate with the Gothic arch.


The mill brook rushed through the rocky gorge.

I leaned over the bridge,

Observing far below me the waves,

Which rolled so quietly,

In the night, in the night,

Yet never did one roll back.


Overhead wanders the infinite, flickering,

Melodic traffic of the stars.

With them, the moon in calm splendor;

They gleam quietly

In the night, in the night.

At a deceptively remote distance.


I gaze up into the night, in the night,

And gaze down again anew:

Alas, how have you spent the day!

Now, softly you try to still,

In the night, in the night,

The remorse of your pounding heart!