Category Archives: Prussian War Poetry


Ferdinand Freiligrath: “To Wolfgang in the Field”

Excerpt, “Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath.” Edited by his daughter. Kate Freiligrath. Leipzig: 1871.

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The Ballad of Prague (1757)

Excerpt, “The Book of German Songs from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century.” Translated and Edited by H. W. Dulcken. 1856.

Military songs by anonymous authors are common throughout the wars of Frederick the Great.

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The Battle of Prague in Bohemia, 6th May, 1757

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Death of Field-Marshal Schwerin at the Battle of Prague

 

Ernst Schulze: “Schwarze Jäger“

Excerpt, “Poets and Poetry of Germany, Biographical and Critical Notices.” Madame Davesies de Pontes. Vol. II. London: 1858.

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The Black Hunters

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What is gleaming so gaily on bush and on brae,

What is shining in green-wood so bright,

Who comes forth from the wood in such gallant array,

Who are rushing from mountain and height?

’Tis the Jäger! On, on in a torrent we flow,

And rush to the combat and pounce on the foe

To battle, to vict’ry—to triumph we go!

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We come from the Hartz and its forests so old,

Full, they tell us, of glittering store;

But what do we care or for silver or gold?

Give us freedom! We ask for no more!

To others we leave it—more nobly we feel;

We don our bright armour, our cuirass of steel;

For us upon earth the sword only has worth,

And we care for nought save our fatherland’s weal!

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To drink and to love and be loved has its charms;

In the shade it is pleasant to dream;

But nobler to rush ’mid the battles alarms,

When the sword and the bayonet gleam.

Love’s torch is not brighter than glory’s proud hue,

And where thousands are sleeping why we may sleep too.

As heroes we’ll fall! ’neath the sword or the ball,

And pour forth our hearts-blood so gallant and true.

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Full oft in the darkness, in forest and glen,

Or high on the storm-beaten rock,

We have linger’d to track the fierce wolf to den

Nor dreaded the hurricane’s shock.

And now the bright sunshine is steaming above us;

We go to defend all we love! All who love us!

Be it battle or chase—in the enemy’s face—

To us it is one; for no peril can move us!

 

 

Willibald Alexis: “Fredericus Rex”

Excerpt, “The Book of German Songs from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century.” Translated and Edited by H. W. Dulcken. 1856.

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FREDERICUS REX

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FREDERICUS REX, our king and lord,

To all of his soldiers “To arms!” gave the word;

“Two hundred battalions, a thousand squadrons here!”

And he gave sixty cartridges to each grenadier.

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“You rascally fellows,” his majesty began,

“Look that each of you stands for me in battle like a man

They’re grudging Silesia and Glatz to me,

And the hundred millions in my treasury.

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“The Empress with the French an alliance has signed,

And raised the Roman kingdom against me, I find;

The Russians my territories do invade,

Up, and show ’em of what stuff we Prussians are made.

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“My generals, Schwerin, and Field-marshal Von Keit,

And Major-general Ziethen, are all ready quite.

By the thunders and lightnings of battle, I vow,

They don’t know Fritz and his soldiers now.

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“Now farewell, Louisa; Louisa, dry your eyes;

Not straight to its mark ev’ry bullet flies;

For if all the bullets should kill all the men,

From whence should we kings get our soldiers then?

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“The musket bullet makes a little round hole,

A much larger wound both the cannon ball dole;

The bullets are all of iron and lead,

Yet many a bullet misses many a head.

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“Our guns they are heavy and well supplied,

Not one of the Prussians to the foe hath hied;

The Swedes they have cursed bad money, I trow;

If the Austrians have better, who can know?

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“The French king pays his soldiers at his ease,

We get it, stock and stiver, every week, if we please;

By the thunders and the lightnings of battle, I say,

Who gets like the Prussian so promptly his pay?”

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Fredericus, my king, whom the laurel doth grace,

Hadst thou but now and then let us plunder some place,

Fredericus, my hero, I verily say,

We’d drive for thee the devil from the world away.

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