Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “A dark and savage grandeur…”

But, as such, the Romantics, Milton, and the “Satanic” or Byronic Hero have been much on my mind of late.

Excerpt from Appendix C to “The Statesman’s Manual, or The Bible the Best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 1816..

Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels,1808,William Blake

Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels
William Blake
1808

But in its utmost abstraction and consequent state of reprobation, the Will becomes satanic pride and rebellious self-idolatry in the relations of the spirit to itself, and remorseless despotism relatively to others; the more hopeless as the more obdurate by its subjugation of sensual impulses, by its superiority to toil and pain and pleasure.

In short, by the fearful resolve to find in itself alone the one absolute motive of action, under which all other motives from within and from without must be either subordinated or crushed.

This is the character which Milton has so philosophically as well as sublimely embodied in the Satan of his Paradise Lost. Alas! too often has it been embodied in real life!

Too often has it given a dark and savage grandeur to the historic page! And wherever it has appeared, under whatever circumstances of time and country, the same ingredients have gone to its composition; and it has been identified by the same attributes.

Hope in which there is no cheerfulness; steadfastness within and immovable resolve, with outward restlessness and whirling activity; violence with guile; temerity with cunning; and, as the result of all, interminableness of object with perfect indifference of means; these are the qualities that have constituted the commanding genius!

These are the marks that have characterized the masters of mischief, the liberticides, and mighty hunters of mankind, from Nimrodto Napoleon. And from inattention to the possibility of such a character as well as from ignorance of its elements, even men of honest intentions too frequently become fascinated.

Nay, whole nations have been so far duped by this want of insight and reflection as to regard with palliative admiration, instead of wonder and abhorrence, the Molocks of human nature, who are indebted, for the far larger portion of their meteoric success, to their total want of principle, and who surpass the generality of their fellow creatures in one act of courage only, that of daring to say with their whole heart, “Evil, be thou my good!

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Collin: “Night and Dreams”

by Matthäus Kasimir von Collin (1779-1824), “Nachtfeier”

See Musical Video

By Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828), “Nacht und Träume”, op. 43 no. 2, D. 827 (1822?), published 1825. Translation © by KarenL.

nacht-und-traume

Nacht und Träume

Holy night, you sink down;
Dreams also float down
As your moonlight fills the room,
Fills the sleeping hearts of men.
They listen with pleasure;
Crying, when the day awakes:
Return, fair night!
Fair dreams, return!

 

Torquato Tasso: “To Ferrante”

Excerpt, “The Sonnets of Europe.” A Volume of Translations, selected and arranged, with notes, by Samuel Waddington. 1886.

ferrante..

 

Henry Morley: “So Like a Forest is the Human Heart”

Excerpt, Henry Morley:  “The Dream of the Lilybell, Tales and Poems, with Translations of the “Hymns to the Night” from the German of Novalis, and Jean Paul’s “Death of an Angel.”  1845.

6so like a forest

“Charlemagne On The Bridge of Moonbeams”

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

charlemagne_bayard

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Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’: “The Prince’s Sword”

Excerpt, Friedrich Freiherr De La Motte Fouque’:   “Romantic Fiction.”  1871.

The Prince's Sword2

horseman sprang from his horse, the singer to his feet,and they clasped and embraced each other right lovingly. They had much to tell, for they had been a long while parted ; Leutwald at home in the fair city, under the teaching of the most accomplished minstrels; Adelard with the renowned Count Albert of Bayreuth, who for his beauty and his knightly prowess was surnamed Albert Achilles. With him had the warlike youth lived after his heart’s desire ; and he too had become dear to the German Achilles for his skill in arms, and for many proofs of dauntless contempt of death displayed in hard-fought battles.

   ” So, then, it was a grief to you to leave him ?” asked Leutwald of his friend.

   ” Indeed it was,” answered Adelard ; ” but what could be done ? As soon as the count mustered his troops against our beloved mother, the holy free city of Nuremberg, I made myself ready, fastened my horse to the gate, and then, resolved in mind, and with girded sword, I mounted the stairs to my beloved lord, saying, ‘ You have been a gracious prince to me; but as things are at present, I must use against yourself the skill I learned from you.’ 

    I thought the valiant Achilles would have broken forth in anger, as is sometimes his way, but he smiled quietly to himself. ‘ Thou art a brave fellow ;’ then again a little time he was silent, jingling the large knightly sword, inlaid with gold, which never leaves his side, and spoke : ‘ This sword might one day have made thee a knight. Now, however, it may strike thee after another fashion. See only that thou comest honourably under its stroke ; so will it be for thy good, whether it touch thee with the flat edge or with the sharp —for life or for death.’ Then he dismissed me after his gracious manner ; and as I rode forth, a solemn stillness came on my soul ; but since I reached our own borders, and still more since I have met with you, I have become light-hearted as before. But are you ready here ? It is full time.” 

    ” That we know well,” answered Leutwald. ” Only come you today to the aged Councillor Scharf. There will be a cheerful meal; you will learn what is about to happen ; and be of good heart.”

    Then the two youths embraced joyfully ; and leading the horse after them, approached the city, singing battle-songs with all their heart and voice, through the flowery country . At the house of the venerable councillor Adam Scharf there was an assemblage of the brave citizens of every sort. Some whose hoary heads, bowed down with age, seemed to look forward to their last deed of arms, and close beyond it to an honourable grave ; others who, in the midday of life, moved on with lofty resolve ; others, and many more, with fresh colours on their cheeks and bright hopes in their hearts. 

    Here the two youths, Adelard and Leutwald, were right welcome ; and as every one gladly beheld the latter on account of his graceful songs, so they took no less pleasure in the knightly-trained pupil of their valiant foe, the German Achilles. 

Read the rest of this Antique German Story in Translation in its entirety here!

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.

.

“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?

.

“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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Goethe: To A Golden Heart

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

ADALBERT VON CHAMISSO: “The Women of Weinsberg”

.Women of Weinsberg.

THE WOMEN OF WEINSBERG
.
It was the good King Konrad with all his army lay
Before the town of Weinsberg full many a weary day;
The Guelph at last was vanquished, but still the town held out;
The bold and fearless burghers they fought with courage stout.
.
But then came hunger, hunger! That was a grievous guest;
They went to ask for favor, but anger met their quest.
"Through you the dust hath bitten full many a worthy knight,
And if your gates you open, the sword shall you requite!"
.
Then came the women, praying: "Let be as thou hast said,
Yet give us women quarter, for we no blood have shed!"
At sight of these poor wretches the hero's anger failed,
And soft compassion entered and in his heart prevailed.
.
"The women shall be pardoned, and each with her shall bear
As much as she can carry of her most precious ware;
The women with their burdens unhindered forth shall go,
Such is our royal judgment--we swear it shall be so!"
.
At early dawn next morning, ere yet the east was bright,
The soldiers saw advancing a strange and wondrous sight;
The gate swung slowly open, and from the vanquished town
Forth swayed a long procession of women weighted down;
.
For perched upon her shoulders each did her husband bear--
That was the thing most precious of all her household ware.
"We'll stop the treacherous women!" cried all with one intent;
The chancellor he shouted: "This was not what we meant!"
.
But when they told King Konrad, the good King laughed aloud;
"If this was not our meaning, they've made it so," he vowed,
"A promise is a promise, our loyal word was pledge;
It stands, and no Lord Chancellor may quibble or map hedge."
.
Thus was the royal scutcheon kept free from stain or blot!
The story has descended from days now half forgot;
'Twas eleven hundred and forty this happened, as I've heard,
The flower of German princes thought shame to break his word.

Women of Weinsberg - 1894

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Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Trumpet of Gravelotte”

Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker

Gravelotte

Prussian Cuirassiers at Battle of Gravelotte – Franco-Prussian War
Juliusz Kossak, 1871

Die Trompete von Gravelotte

Aug. 16, 1870

Death and Destruction they belched forth in vain,
We grimly defied their thunder;
Two columns of foot and batteries twain,
We rode and cleft them asunder.

With brandished sabres, with reins all slack,
Raised standards, and low-couched lances,
Thus we Uhlans and Cuirassiers wildly drove back,
And hotly repelled their advances.

But the ride was a ride of death and of blood;
With our thrusts we forced them to sever;
But of two whole regiments, lusty and good,
Out of two men, one rose never.

With breast shot through, with brow gaping wide,
They lay pale and cold in the valley,
Snatched away in their youth, in their manhood's pride--
Now, Trumpeter, sound to the rally!

And he took the trumpet, whose angry thrill
Urged us on to the glorious battle,
And he blew a blast--but all silent and still
Was the trump, save a dull hoarse rattle,

Save a voiceless wail, save a cry of woe,
That burst forth in fitful throbbing--
A bullet had pierced its metal through,
For the Dead the wounded was sobbing!

For the faithful, the brave, for our brethren all,
For the Watch on the Rhine, true-hearted!
Oh, the sound cut into our inmost soul!--
It brokenly wailed the Departed!

And now fell the night, and we galloped past,
Watch-fires were flaring and flying,
Our chargers snorted, the rain poured fast--
And we thought of the Dead and the Dying!

Freiligrath
Ferdinand Freiligrath

Adelheid, Baroness von Stolterfoth: “The Right Word”

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

xx

The Right Word

 .

Deep ’neath the Rhine’s green billow

A golden treasure lies,

Knew’st thou the spell of magic

’Twould at thy voice arise;

That magic word which holdeth,

With but a single sound,

The mighty torrent’s surges,

As if in fetters bound.

 .

Deep in the valley buried

A sword all-conqu’ring lies,

And he who can possess it

Against the world may rise.

One word must first be spoken,

The earth then opens, and lo!

From out her rocky chambers

The steel will brightly glow.

 .

And there on yonder mountains,

Deep in the shaft profound,

By dwarfs and gnomes well guarded,

There may a key be found;

It opens every portal,

For ever ’tis thy own,

Know’st thou ’mong words unnumbered

That one right word alone.

 .

How have I mused already

In vain so long, so long,

Till, word by word commencing,

It ended in a song!

But still as yet lie hidden

That treasure, key, and sword,

And what I sang so often

Was never the right word.

Adelheid_von_Stolterfoth

August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben: “Parting”

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

parting

Burkhart von Hohenfels: “Like the Sun’s Uprising Light”

Excerpt, “Lay of the Minnesingers, or German Troubadours of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.” London: 1825. Translator: Edgar Taylor.
princessava.

Like the sun’s uprising light

Shines that maid, before whom fade

Other charms, however bright;

As the stars at break of day,

Late so brilliant, fade away.

.

When my spirit light had flown

Wanton forth in pleasure’s quest,

Then those beaming have shone

O’er the rover’s path, and led

Home to her from whom it sped.

,

When again its wing it took

Falcon-like for joy to soar,

Ne’er the gentle spell it broke;

Soon again it sought its home

In that breast it wandered from.

,

O’er its fear was ever coming

Lest its mistress, at the thought

That for other loves ‘t was roaming,

Vengeful all its joys might blight;

Therefore back it winged its flight.

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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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