Category Archives: Ludwig Uhland


J. Ludwig Uhland: “Tom Thumb”

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

tom thumb

Ludwig Uhland: “The Ancestral Vault”

Excerpt, “Ballads from the German.”  Translator, Henry Englis.  1864.

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The Ancestral Vault

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There went a hoary war-worn sire

Across the solitary wold,

Up to the sanctuary old,

And stepped into the gloomy choir.

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In ranks, the bannered vault along,

The grim ancestral coffins lay;

And through the darkness came alway

A warning, wondrous strain of song.

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“Ye warriors, in your shrouds of mail,

Your stately burial-dirge I hear;

It calls me to yon empty bier—

It bids your latest kinsman hail.”

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There stood, by shadows half concealed,

One empty bier amongst the dead;

He laid him in the narrow bed,

Cold pillowed on his dinted shield.

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His sword, recumbent on his breast,

Was folded in the sleep of death;

Hushed was the ghostly anthem’s breath,

And the dead warriors were at rest.

 

J. Ludwig Uhland: “The Mower’s Maiden”

Excerpt, “German Ballads, Songs, etc., comprising translations from Schiller, Uhland, Burger, Goethe, Korner, Becker,  Fouque, Chamisso, etc., etc.” London:  Edward Lumley. 1900.

The Mowers Maiden

The Mower’s Maiden.

“Good morrow to thee, Mary ! right early art thou laden !

Love hath not made thee slothful, thou true and steadfast maiden!

Ay, if in three brief days, methinks, thy task of work be done,

I shall no longer have the heart to part thee from my son.”

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It was a wealthy farmer spake, it was a maiden listened:

Oh, how her loving bosom swelled, and how her full eye glistened !

New life is in her limbs, her hand outdoes her comrades all,

See how she wields the scythe, and see how fast the full crops fall!

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And when the noon grows sultry; and the weary peasants wend

To sleep in pleasant thickets, and o’er cooling streams to bend;

Still are the humming-bees at work beneath that burning sky,

And Mary, diligent as they, works on unceasingly.

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The sun hath sunk, the evening bell gives gentle summons home;

” Enough,” her neighbours cry, ” enough ! come, Mary, prithee come! “

Shepherds, and flocks, and husbandmen, pass homeward through the dew,

But Mary only whets her scythe and goes to work anew.

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And now the dews are thickening, the moon and stars are bright,

Sweet are the new-mown furrows, and sweet the songs of night;

But Mary lies not down to rest, and stands not still to hear,

The rustling of her ceaseless scythe is music to her ear.

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Even thus from morn till evening, even thus from eve to morn,

She toils, by strong love nourished, by happy hope upborne;

Till when the third day’s sun arose, the labour was complete,

And there stood Mary weeping, for joy so strange and sweet.

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“Good morrow to thee, Mary! How now ? — the task is done!

Lo, for such matchless industry, rich guerdon shall be won;

But for the wedding—nay indeed—my words were only jest;

How foolish and how credulous we find a lover’s breast!”

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He spake and went his way, and there the hapless maid stood still,

Her weary limbs they shook, they sank, her heart grew stiff and chill ;

Speech, sense, and feeling, like a cloud, did from her spirit pass,

And there they found her lying upon the new-mown grass!

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And thus a dumb and death-like life for years the maiden led,

A drop of fragrant honey was all her daily bread.

Oh, make her grave in pleasant shades, where softest flow’rets grow,

For such a loving heart as hers is seldom found below !

 

J. Ludwig Uhland: King Charles’s Sea-Voyage

Excerpt, “Gems of German Poetry:  A Collection of the Choicest German Songs and Ballads.” Translated into English by the Most Eminent Authors. 1896. Translated by Walter William Skeat.

charlemagne_paladins

King Charles’s Sea-Voyage

 

King Charles with all his douciperes
Across the ocean sailed;
Towards the Holy Land he steers —
A dreadful storm prevailed.

Out spake Sir Roland, hero brave:
” I well can fence and fight;
Yet little may such arts avail
Against the tempest’s might. ”

Next spake Sir Holgar, Denmark’s pride:
” I’ve skill with harp and song;
What ‘vails me this, when thus contends
The blast with billows strong? ” 

Sir Oliver felt little cheer;
He viewed his weapons keen:
” It is not for my life I fear,
But Alta Clara’s sheen! ”

Next spake the treach’rous Ganelon —
In undertone he spake: —
” Were I but far from hence on land,
The rest the fiend might take! ”

Archbishop Turpin sighed aloud:
” God’s champions stout are we;
Come, Saviour dear, from Holy Land,
And guide us o’er the sea. “

Next Richard — Dauntless named — ‘gan say:
” Ye powers and imps of hell;
Now help me in my need, I pray,
I oft have served you well. ”

Sir Naime next his rede began: —
” I’ve counselled much this year;
But water sweet and counsel good
On shipboard oft are dear. ”

Then spake Rioul, a veteran brave: —
” A warrior old am I,
And fain would hope my corse at last
In good dry ground may lie. “

Sir Guy, a young and gallant knight,
Right gaily ‘gan to sing:
” I would I were a lightsome bird,
I’d to my love take wing! ”

Then spake Guarine, that noble knight:
” May God our succour be!
I’d rather drink the good red wine
Than water from the sea. ”

Sir Lambert next, brave youngster, cried:
” God our protection be!
I’d rather eat the dainty fish
Than that the fish ate me! ”

Last spake Sir Godfrey, far renowned:
” What matters what befal?
Whatever fate myself o’ertakes
Shall whelm my brethren all. ”

King Charles beside the rudder sat,
No word his lips would vent;
With sure control the ship he steered
Until the storm was spent.

charlemagne_bayard

 

Ludwig Uhland: “Sundown”

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

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J. Ludwig Uhland: The Death–Angel

Excerpt, The Sonnets of Europe, 1886. Translated by Matilda Dicksonhkj

 

Uhland: “Faith in Spring”

By Johann Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862), “Frühlingsglaube”, from Lieder, in Frühlingslieder, no. 2 by Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828), “Frühlingsglaube”, D. 686 (1820). Translation by FiDiTanzer528.

Hear the Lied! See the Video!

 

Frühlingsglaube

The gentle breezes have awakened,
They whisper and float day and night,
They create on all sides.
O fresh fragrance, o new sound!
Now, poor heart, be not afraid!
Now all, all must change.

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The world becomes more beautiful with every day,
No one knows, what may become,
The blossoming will not end;
It blooms in the farthest, deepest valley:
Now, poor heart, forget thy pain!
Now all, all must change.

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J.L. Uhland: “Harald”

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.

 

 

HARALD

 

In somber wood, at eventide,

By Luna’s silver light,

Brave Harold, the Renowned, doth ride.

With many a valiant knight.

 

Who proudly, hard-earned pennons bring,

That through the forest wave;

The echoing war-songs that they sing

Sound through each mountain-cave.

 

What glides, by stealth, from yonder bush?

What flutters in yon tree?

What, from the clouds, doth hither rush

Amid the foaming sea?

 

Who mounts our steeds, and o’er us, fair

And Odorous garlands flings?

What Beings sing ‘neath moon-beams there,

And dance in dizzy rings?

 

Who amorously thus doth play,

And nestle on our breast?

Who gently takes our sword away,

And leaves us, void of rest?

 

The Elfin-race their charm have spread,

Their power can none withstand;

The celebrated Knights are led,

Captives in Fairy-land!

 

‘Gainst one – the Flower-of-chivalry,

Their fascinations fail;

Impregnably incased is he

In stalworth coat of mail.

 

His comrades are the Fairies’ prey,

Despoiled of sword and shield!

Their horses wildly dart away,

O’er mountain, wood, and field.

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In melancholy, pensive mood,

Rides Harald, the proud Knight;

Brave Harald roves through yon wide wood,

‘Neath Luna’s mournful light.

 

From an o’erhanging rock doth flow

A crystal streamlet fair;

He takes his helmet from his brow,

And quaffs with ardour there.

 

Barely is feverish thirst suppressed,

When cramped feel arm and knee,

And, on the rock doth Harald rest,

O’erpowered by lethargy!

 

Hundreds of years doth Harald rest

On that cold marble-stone;

His head reclines upon his breast,

Grey, beard and hair are grown.

 

When, o’er that rock doth thunder roll,

When vivid lightning gleams,

He grasps his sword – still brave of soul,

‘Mid troubled fairy-dreams.

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Ludwig Uhland: “Free Art”

Tannenwald

 FREE ART

 

1812

 

Thou, whom song was given, sing

In the German poets’ wood!

When all boughs with music ring–

Then is life and pleasure good.

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Nay, this art doth not belong

To a small and haughty band;

Scattered are the seeds of song

All about the German land.

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Music set thy passions free

From the heart’s confining cage;

Let thy love like murmurs be,

And like thunder-storm thy rage!

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Singest thou not all thy days,

Joy of youth should make thee sing.

Nightingales pour forth their lays

In the blooming months of spring!

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Though in books they hold not fast

What the hour to thee imparts,

Leaves unto the breezes cast,

To be seized by youthful hearts!

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Fare thou well, thou secret lore:

Necromancy, Alchemy!

Formulas shall bind no more,

And our art is poesy.

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Names we deem but empty air;

Spirits we revere alone;

Though we honor masters rare.

Art is free–it is our own!

 

Not in haunts of marble chill,

Temples drear where ancients trod–

Nay, in oaks on woody hill,

Lives and moves the German God.

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Uhland: Taillefer

LUDWIG UHLAND

Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman
 hastings

TAILLEFER (1812)

Duke William of the Normans spoke unto his servants all:

“Who is it sings so sweetly in the court and in the hall?

Who sings from early morn till the house is still at night

So sweetly that he fills my heart with laughter and delight?”

“‘Tis Taillefer,” they answered him, “so joyously that sings

Within the courtyard, as the wheel above the well he swings,

And when the fire upon the hearth he stirs to burn more bright,

And when he rises to his toil or lays him down at night.”

Then spoke the Duke, “In him I trow I have a faithful knave–

This Taillefer that serves me here, so loyal and so brave;

He turns the wheel and stirs the fire with willing, sturdy arm,

And, best of all, with blithesome song he knows my heart to charm.”

Then out spake lusty Taillefer, “Ah, lord, if I were free,

Far better would I serve thee then, and gladly sing to thee.

How on my stately charger would I serve thee in the field,

How sing before thee cheerily, with clang of sword and shield!”

The days went by, and Taillefer rode out as rides a knight

Upon a prancing charger borne, a gay and gallant sight;

And from the tower looked down on him Duke William’s sister fair,

And softly murmured, “By my troth, a stately knight goes there!”

When as he rode before the tower, and spied her harkening,

Now sang he like a driving storm, now like a breeze of spring;

She cried, “To hear that wondrous song is of all joys the best–

The very stones they tremble, and the heart within my breast.”

And now the Duke has called his men and crossed the salt sea-foam;

With gallant knights and vassals bold to England he has come.

And as he sprang from out the ship, he slipped upon the strand,

And “By this token, thus,” he cried, “I seize a subject land!”

And now on Hastings field arrayed, the host for fight prepare;

Before the Duke reins up his horse the valiant Taillefer:

“If I have sung and blown the fire for many a weary year,

And since for other years have borne the knightly shield and spear,

“If I have sung and served thee well, and praises won from thee,

First as a lowly knave and then a warrior, bold and free,

Today I claim my guerdon just, that all the host may know–

To ride the foremost to the field, strike first against the foe!”

So Taillefer rode on before the glittering Norman line

Upon his stately steed, and waved a sword of temper fine;

Above the embattled plain his song rang all the tumult o’er–

Of Roland’s knightly deeds he sang and many a hero more.

And as the noble song of old with tempest-might swelled out,

The banners waved and knights pressed on with war-cry and with shout;

And every heart among the host throbbed prouder still and higher,

And still through all sang Taillefer, and blew the battle-fire.

Then forward, lance in rest, against the waiting foe he dashed,

And at the shock an English knight from out the saddle crashed;

Anon he swung his sword and struck a grim and grisly blow,

And on the ground beneath his feet an English knight lay low.

The Norman host his prowess saw, and followed him full fain;

With joyful shouts and clang of shields the whole field rang again,

And shrill and fast the arrows sped, and swords made merry play–

Until at last King Harold fell, his stubborn carles gave way.

The Duke his banner planted high upon the bloody plain,

And pitched his tent a conqueror amid the heaps of slain;

Then with his captains sat at meat, the wine-cup in his hand,

Upon his head the royal crown of all the English land.

“Come hither, valiant Taillefer, and drink a cup with me!

Full oft thy song has soothed my grief, made merrier my glee;

But all my life I still shall hear the battle-shout that pealed

Above the noise of clashing arms today on Hastings field!”

uhland

Johann Ludwig Uhland

1787 – 1862