Category Archives: Ferdinand Freiligrath


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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Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Westphalian Summer Song”

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

WESTPHALIAN SUMMER SONG

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Drinking Song of the Westphalian Students”

Excerpt, “A Book of Ballads from the German.”  Translated by Percy Boyd, Esq.  1848.

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Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Hungary: New Year’s Eve 1848”

Excerpt, Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath, Edited by his Daughter. 1871.

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Hungary

New Year’s Eve 1848

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Across the heath is streaming

The bivouac’s nightly fire;

The crooked scythe is gleaming

In the hands of the Magyar;

Herd and homestead leaving,

To the saddlebow he’s cleaving,

Or bends o’er the fascine;

And, ’neath his iron riding,

Thy stormy song is chiding,

Danube! Thou Heather-queen!

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She shouts within her borders,

She swells with rage and pride;

“God speed! Ye brown marauders,

Hot Hungary’s human tide!

Ye hunters and ye herders,

Ye dauntless cymbal-girders!

Wild fifers ye! Who dare,

The last for right uniting,

Tho’ tattered with long fighting,

The flag of freedom bear!

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Skirmish_during_Hungarian_Revolution_1848-1849.

“Betrayed in every quarter,

Betrayed and then maligned,

Ye saved above the slaughter

The standard of mankind;

High o’er your chargers bounding,

Blood-ice its folds surrounding,

Ye shake the flag of fate.

Thus—thus ye spread it o’er me,

Thus—thus with victory’s glory

The year inaugurate.

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“Look here, each western nation!

One people still can feel

Rebellion’s bold salvation

In its gauntlet-grasp of steel!

In dim far eastern regions—

Outpost of freedom’s legions—

The tides of battle swell,

Whose waves, their reflux taking,

And every fetter breaking,

Shall make you free as well!

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“Hear ye the buglar’s clangor?

Hear ye the courser’s neigh?

See ye the red waves’ anger?

’Tid Raab’s great battle-day!

Charge! Charge! My riders fearless!

Charge! Charge! Kossuth my peerless!”

So sounds the Danube’s song;

So rolls she, hoarsely chiding,

Through her deep-set channels gliding,

To dull Stamboul along.

 

 

F. Freiligrath: “The Alexandrine”

Excerpt, Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath, 1871.

 

Arabian-Horse

 

THE ALEXANDRINE

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Spring out, my desert horse,

from Alexandria!

My wild one — Such a steed

was never tamed by Shah

Or Emir upon Eastern plain,

Or any else who mount

into a princely seat —

Where thunders thro’ the sand,

a hoof like thine so fleet?

Where flashes such a tail or mane?

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Thy angry snort is —

Hale even as it thus is writ;

Thou standest spuming dust,

and reckless of the bit.

The breezes in thy forelocks dance.

Thine eyeballs sparkle fire,

thy panting haunches smoke —

Thou art not such a horse as

that which Boileau broke,

And tutored with the wit of France!

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He plods submissive on,

the leading reins his guide.

Caesura only is a ditch

on the wayside,

For this old sleek and sober horse;

Rash fire for him he knows

to be no fitting thing,

He sniffs and paws awhile,

then clears with easy spring,

And decently jogs on his course.

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To thee, my fiery horse,

it is a rocky chasm

Of Sinai — the reins

are burst with eager spasm —

Rush on — there yawns

the cleft asunder!

Blood from thy fetlock starts —

a snort, a fearful spring—

Tis cleared — from out the rock,

thy hoof of iron wring

The flash of flint,

the echo’s thunder!

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And downwards now again!

Dash through the glowing sand,

Rush on unheeding,

reined by my unfailing hand,

I’ll guide thee safe and gloriously;

Heed not thy sweat, for when

the stars of evening blink,

I’ll lead thee slow, and thou

shalt lave thy thirst and drink

Luxuriant from the mighty sea!

 

 

 

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Napoleon In Bivouac”

Excerpt, “A Metrical History of the Life and Times of Napoleon Bonaparte: A Collection of Poems and Songs. Many from Obscure and Anonymous Sources, Selected and Arranged with Introductory Notes and Connective Narrative.” William J. Hillis. 1896.

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Battle of Aboukir Bay,  25 July 1798, by Louis Lejeune

Although the result of the battle of the Nile was a fatal blow to the hopes of Napoleon of ever being able to carry out, to a successful issue, his cherished schemes concerning the establishment of a mighty empire in the East, yet he did not relinquish the idea of doing a great work there.

The gallant Desaix was sent in pursuit of Mourad Bey, and soon he had possession of all Upper Egypt, over which Napoleon made him Governor.  The French scientists minutely examined and made record of every object of interest to be found in the country of the old Pharaohs.

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Battle of Mount Thabor, 16 April 1799, by Louis Lejeune

Napoleon, in person, inspected the proposed route of a canal in Suez, to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, and it was at the identical spot where tradition tells us the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea that he and his party were nearly drowned by the rising tide.  “Had I perished there like Pharaoh,” he said, “it would have furnished all the preachers in Christendom with a magnificent text against me.”

Then followed the battle of Mount Tabor, the siege of Acre, and the glorious victory at Aboukir.  Master of Egypt, his work done, so far as it lay in his power to accomplish it, in sight of Pompey’s Pillar and  Cleopatra’s Needle, surrounded by shades of those heroes who made ancient history famous, Napoleon, sitting before his tent with a map of the world on his knees, falls asleep; to dream, perchance, of future glory and the wondrous fate still to be his.

 

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Napoleon in Bivouac

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A watch-fire on a sandy waste
Two trenches – arms in stack
A pyramid of bayonets
Napoleon’s bivouac!

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Yonder the stately grenadiers
Of Kleber’s vanguard see.
The general to inspect them
Close by the blaze sits he.

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Upon his weary knee the chart,
There, by the flowing heap,
Softly the mighty Bonaparte
Sinks, like a child to sleep.

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And stretched on cloak and cannon,
His soldiers, too, sleep well,
And, leaning on his musket nods
The very sentinel.

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Sleep on, ye weary warriors, sleep
Sleep out your last hard fight
Mute, shadowy sentinels shall keep
Watch round your trench tonight.

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Let Murad’s horsemen dash along!
Let man and steed come on!
To guard your line stalks many a strong
And stalwart Champion.

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A Mede stands guard, who with you rode
When you from Thebes marched back,
Who after King Cambyses strode,
Hard in his chariot’s track.

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A stately Macedonian
Stands sentry by your line,
Who saw on Ammon’s plain the crown
Of Alexander shine.

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And, lo, Another spectre!
Old Nile has known him well;
An Admiral of Caesar’s fleet,
Who under Caesar fell.

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The graves of earth’s old lords, who sleep
Beneath the desert sands,
Send forth their dead, his guard to keep,
Who now the world commands.

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They stir, they wake,their places take
Around the midnight flame;
The sand and mould I see them shake
From many a mail-clad frame.

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I see the ancient armour gleam
With wild and lurid light:
Old, bloody purple mantles stream
Out on the winds of night.

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They float and flap around a brow
By boiling passion stirred;
The hero, as in anger, now
Deep breathing, grasps his sword.

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He dreams; a hundred realms, in dreams,
Erect him each a throne;
High on a car, with golden beam,
He sits as Ammon’s son.

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With thousand throats, to welcome him
The glowing Orient cries,
While at his feet the fire grows dim,
Gives one faint flash – and dies.

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Ferdinand Freiligrath: The Spectre-Caravan

Excerpt, Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath, Edited by his Daughter. 1871.

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Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Amphitrite”

From ‘Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath’ 1826-1840, translated by G.E. Shirley

 

THE AMPHITRITE

 

Seest thou the Amphitrite

At anchor yonder lie?

A festal gleam lies round her,

The crimson streamers fly.

 

Hauled to the yards are hanging,

The sails now laid aside,

The foam-lipped sea-god kisses

The cheeks of his sea-bride.

 

She’s newly reached the haven,

From the Far East arrived,

Has braved the tempest’s fury

And tropic heat survived.

 

The Captain by the main-mast

Stands girt with cincture red,

Nor knows what guest he harboured

As home the good ship sped.

 

’Tis May the young, the blooming,

Who calls the South his home,

That in the stately vessel

O’er the blue wave has come.

 

On India’s strand reclining,

’Neath Banyon shades he lay,

And saw the ship weigh anchor,

Prepared to sail away.

 

Upon the sand up sprang he,

His sandal-string to tie,

To gather up his raiment,

Soft shawls of richest dye.

 

Then toward the sea he darted,

Leaped headlong in the tide,

Nor rest he till he’s grasping,

The rope at the ship’s side.

 

With nimble step and daring,

Unseen by all the crew,

He swung on board the vessel,

Straightway the land-wind blew.

 

As soon as in the haven,

The brig had safely come,

Bedecked with gayest colors,

At once to land he swum.

 

The storks with flight prophetic

Are floating on before;

A juggler, a magician,

He steps upon our shore.

 

He clothes the trees with verdure,

Bare plots with flowers he fills,

Bids hyacinths to blossom,

Gay tulips, daffodils.

 

The earth in marvelous splendour

He decks; bright hues appear,

Thanks, bold Lascar! and welcome,

Lithe swimmer, welcome here!

 

Seest thou the Amphitrite

At anchor yonder lie?

A festal gleam plays round her,

The crimson streamers fly.

 

 

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Freedom and Right”

Excerpt, “A Book of Ballads from the German.”  Translated by Percy Boyd, Esq.  1848.

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FREEDOM AND RIGHT

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Oh, think not she sleepeth with those who have perish’d

In dungeons unnumbered by tyranny’s sword;

In the hearts of the free shall her dear name be cherish’d.

Though their lips are forbidden to utter “the Word.”

Yes!  Though, lone exiles by mountain and valley,

They wander uncheer’d by lost liberty’s light,

There’s a pulse in the heart of the Freeman to rally,

While Freedom still liveth, and with her the Right.

For Freedom and Right!

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Till victory’s sun-burst shall flash o’er our standard,

No check must impede us, no danger affright,

But with courage redoubled, the first in the vanward,

Our war-cry will thunder, For Freedom!  For Right!

These twin ones, the holy, have come, born of heaven,

To earth by a path track’d in colours of light;

To the Right let the honours of Freedom be given,

To the Free be the glories ascribed of the Right.

Hail!  The Freedom!  The Right!

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Let this too inspire us, they never were flying

From fight unto fight more exulting than now;

And the souls which have longest in bondage been lying,

Are stirr’d with the rapture of Liberty’s glow.

Oh!  Let but one ray of that meteor of wonder

Burst in through the darkness of slavery’s night,

And like magic the bonds of the serf are asunder,

And the chains of the Negro are rent at the sight.

The Freedom!  The Right!

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Yes!  Your banner of crimson floats broad in the vanward,

The nations have gather’d to see it unfurl’d;

For the motto emblazon’d on liberty’s standard,

Is the death of oppression – the Right rules the world;

What a halo of glory, O God!  They shine clear in.

Like a garland hung over that banner of might;

There is Germany’s oak, and the shamrock of Erin,

And the olive of Greece in that garland of light.

The Freedom!  The Right!

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Though many a heart that now throbs shall be lying

In peace, its last slumber and rest will be light;

And over their graves shall that standard, far flying,

Tell how they fought for “The Freedom!  The Right!”

To the memory, then, of the brave, the true-hearted,

Fill up!  They have battled ‘gainst tyranny’s might,

Nor ceased from the struggle till life had departed;

Hurra!  Right forever!  And Freedom through Right!

The Freedom!  The Right!

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Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Hurrah, Germanica!”

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HURRAH, GERMANIA!

 (July 25, 1870)

Hurrah! thou lady proud and fair,
Hurrah! Germania mine!
What fire is in thine eye, as there
Thou bendest o'er the Rhine!
How in July's full blaze dost thou
Flash forth thy sword, and go,
With heart elate and knitted brow,
To strike the invader low!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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No thought hadst thou, so calm and light,
Of war or battle plain,
But on thy broad fields, waving bright,
Didst mow the golden grain,
With clashing sickles, wreaths of corn,
Thy sheaves didst garner in,
When, hark! across the Rhine War's horn
Breaks through the merry din!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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Down sickle then and wreath of wheat
Amidst the corn were cast,
And, starting fiercely to thy feet,
Thy heart beat loud and fast;
Then with a shout I heard thee call:
"Well, since you will, you may!
Up, up, my children, one and all,
On to the Rhine! Away!"
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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From port to port the summons flew,
Rang o'er our German wave;
The Oder on her harness drew,
The Elbe girt on her glaive;
Neckar and Weser swell the tide,
Main flashes to the sun,
Old feuds, old hates are dash'd aside,
All German men are one!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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Suabian and Prussian, hand in hand,
North, South, one host, one vow!
"What is the German's Fatherland?"
Who asks that question now?
One soul, one arm, one close-knit frame,
One will are we today;
Hurrah, Germania! thou proud dame,
Oh, glorious time, hurrah!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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Germania now, let come what may,
Will stand unshook through all;
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This is our country's festal day;
Now woe betide thee, Gaul!
Woe worth the hour a robber thrust
Thy sword into thy hand!
A curse upon him that we must
Unsheathe our German brand!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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For home and hearth, for wife and child,
For all loved things that we
Are bound to keep all undefiled
From foreign ruffianry!
For German right, for German speech,
For German household ways,
For German homesteads, all and each,
Strike home through battle's blaze!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Germania!
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Up, Germans, up, with God! The die
Clicks loud--we wait the throw!
Oh, who may think without a sigh
What blood is doom'd to flow?
Yet, look thou up, with fearless heart!
Thou must, thou shalt prevail!
Great, glorious, free as ne'er thou wert,
All hail, Germania, hail!
Hurrah! Victoria!
Hurrah! Germania!


Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Dead to the Living – July, 1848”

DEATH ON THE BARRICADE ALFRED RETHEL2.

Alfred Rethel: Death on the Barricade

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THE DEAD TO THE LIVING
July, 1848

The bullet in the marble breast, the gash upon the brow,

You raised us on the bloody planks with wild and wrathful vow!

High in the air you lifted us, that every writhe of pain

Might be an endless curse to “him” at whose word we were slain;

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That he might see us in the gloom, or in the daylight’s shine,

Whether he turns his Bible’s leaf, or quaffs his foaming wine;

That the dread memory on his soul should evermore be burned,

A wasting and destroying flame within its gloom inurned;

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That every mouth with pain convulsed, and every gory wound,

Be round him in the terror-hour, when his last bell shall sound;

That every sob above us heard smite shuddering on his ear;

That each pale hand be clenched to strike, despite his dying fear–

Whether his sinking head still wear its mockery of a crown,

Or he should lay it, bound, dethroned, on bloody scaffold down!

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Thus, with the bullet in the breast, the gash upon the brow,

You laid us at the altar’s foot, with deep and solemn vow!

“Come down!” ye cried–he trembling came–even to our bloody bed;

“Uncover!” and ’twas tamely done!–(like a mean puppet led,

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Sank he whose life had been a farce, with fear unwonted shaken).

Meanwhile his army fled the field, which, dying, we had taken!

Loudly in “Jesus, thou my trust!” the anthem’d voices peal;

Why did the victor-crowds forget the sterner trust of steel?

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That morning followed on the night when we together fell,

And when ye made our burial, there was triumph in the knell!

Though crushed behind the barricades, and scarred in every limb,

The pride of conscious Victory lay on our foreheads grim!

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We thought: the price is dearly paid, but the treasures must be true,

And rested calmly in the graves we swore to fill for you!

Alas! for you–we were deceived! Four moons have scarcely run,

Since cowardly you’ve forfeited what we so bravely won!

Squandered and cast to every wind the gain our death had brought!

Aye, all, we know–each word and deed our spirit-ears have caught!

Like waves came thundering every sound of wrong the country through:

The foolish war with Denmark! Poland betrayed anew!

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The vengeance of Vendean men in many a province stern!

The calling back of banished troops! The Prince’s base return!

Wherever barricades were built, the lock on press and tongue!

On the free right of all debate, the daily-practised wrong!

The groaning clang of prison-doors in North and South afar!

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For all who plead the People’s right, Oppression’s ancient bar!

The bond with Russia’s Cossacks! The slander fierce and loud,

Alas! that has become your share, instead of laurels proud–

Ye who have borne the hardest brunt, that Freedom might advance,

Victorious in defeat and death–June-warriors of France!

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Yes, wrong and treason everywhere, the Elbe and Rhine beside,

And beat, oh German men! your hearts, with calm and sluggish tide?

No war within your apron’s folds? Out with it, fierce and bold!

The second, final war with all who Freedom would withhold!

Shout: “The Republic!” till it drowns the chiming minster bells,

Whose sound this swindle of your rights by crafty Austria tells!

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In vain! ‘Tis time your faltering hands should disentomb us yet,

And lift us on the planks, begirt with many a bayonet;

Not to the palace-court, as then, that he may near us stand–

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No; to the tent, the market-place, and through the wakening land!

Out through the broad land bear us–the dead Insurgents sent,

To join, upon our ghastly biers, the German Parliament.

Oh solemn sight! there we should lie, the grave-earth on each brow,

And faces sunken in decay–the proper Regents now!

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There we should lie and say to you: “Ere we could waste away,

Your Freedom-gift, ye archons brave, is rotting in decay!

The Corn is housed which burst the sod, when the March sun on us shone,

But before all other harvests was Freedom’s March-seed mown!

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Chance poppies, which the sickle spared, among the stubbles stand;

Oh, would that Wrath, the crimson Wrath, thus blossomed in the land!”

And yet, it does remain; it springs behind the reaper’s track;

Too much had been already gained, too much been stolen back;

Too much of scorn, too much of shame, heaped daily on your head–

Wrath and Revenge must still be left, believe it, from the Dead!

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It does remain, and it awakes–it shall and must awake!

The Revolution, half complete, yet wholly forth will break.

It waits the hour to rise in power, like an up-rolling storm,

With lifted arms and streaming hair–a wild and mighty form!

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It grasps the rusted gun once more, and swings the battered blade,

While the red banners flap the air from every barricade!

Those banners lead the German Guards–the armies of the Free–

Till Princes fly their blazing thrones and hasten towards the sea!

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The boding eagles leave the land–the lion’s claws are shorn–

The sovereign People, roused and bold, await the Future’s morn!

Now, till the wakening hour shall strike, we keep our scorn and wrath

For you, ye Living! who have dared to falter on your path!

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Up, and prepare–keep watch in arms! Oh, make the German sod,

Above our stiffened forms, all free, and blest by Freedom’s God;

That this one bitter thought no more disturb us in our graves:

“They once were free–they fell–and now, forever they are Slaves!”

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