A.L.A. Smith: “The Queen of Prussia’s Ride”

Excerpt, “A Metrical History of the Life and Times of Napoleon Bonaparte.” Editor William J. Hillis. New York: 1896.

Whatever his inclination may have been, Napoleon was not to be permitted to rest. Pitt, his greatest enemy, it is true, was dead, and Fox, his friend, had come into power in the English Cabinet, but this state of affairs was not to last. Fox dying, England succeeded in forming a new coalition between Russia, Prussia, and herself, and war was again declared against France.

Jena, Eylau, and Friedland, were the answer Napoleon gave to this challenge, and bitterly did Prussia, especially, pay for her rash attempt to free herself from the toils of the French conqueror. But the seed was being sown which was to bring forth victory and revenge for Prussia and all Germany. Defeat and humiliation were bringing to the surface those brave, unflinching spirits that nothing could conquer.

Had Frederick William been endowed with the same positive mind and courageous heart which Louisa, the Queen, possessed, the dawn of victory might have come sooner to that unhappy country. It took such soldiers as “Old Father Blucher” and such indomitable courage as Louisa possessed to cope with the magic power of Napoleon.

It is told that at the battle of Jena, when the Prussian army was routed, the Queen, mounted upon a superb charger, remained on the field attended only by three or four of her escort. A band of French hussars seeing her, rushed forward at full gallop, and with drawn swords dispersed the little group and pursued her all the way to Weimar.

Had not the horse her Majesty rode possessed the fleetness of a stag, the fair Queen would certainly have been captured.

The incident, be it history or not, gave occasion for the following poem.

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The Queen of Prussia’s Ride

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Fair Queen, away! To thy charger speak,

A band of hussars thy capture seek;

Oh, haste! Escape! They are riding this way,

Speak, speak to thy charger without delay;

They’re nigh.

Behold! They come at a break-neck pace,

A smile triumphant illumes each face,

Queen of the Prussians, now for a race,

To Weimar for safety … fly!

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She turned, and her steed with a furious dash,

Over the field like the lightning’s flash –

Fled.

Away, like an arrow from steel cross-bow,

Over hill and dale in the sun’s fierce flow,

The Queen and her enemies thundering go,

On toward Weimar they sped.

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The royal courser is swift and brave,

And his royal rider he tries to save,

But, no!

“Vive l’Empereur!” rings sharp and clear;

She turns and is startled to see them so near,

Then softly speaks in her charger’s ear,

And away he bounds like a roe.

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He speeds as though on the wings of the wind,

The Queen’s pursuers are left behind,

No more

She fears, though each trooper grasps his reins,

Stands up in his stirrups, strikes spurs and strains;

For ride as they may, her steed still gains,

And Weimar is just before.

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Safe! The clatter now fainter grows,

She sees in the distance her labouring foes,

The gates of the fortress stand open wide

To welcome the German nation’s bride

So dear.

With gallop and dash, into Weimar she goes,

And the gates at once on her enemies close.

Give thanks, give thanks! She is safe with those

Who hail her with cheer on cheer!

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Jena

Battle of Jenaa

The Brothers Grimm: “The Rogue and his Master”

THE ROGUE AND HIS MASTER

01_htm374A certain man, named John, was desirous that his son should learn some trade, and he went into the church to ask the priest’s opinion what would be most desirable. Just then the clerk was standing near the altar, and he cried out, “The rogue, the rogue!”

At these words the man went away, and told his son he must learn to be a rogue, for so the priest had said. So they set out, and asked one man and another whether he was a rogue, till, at the end of the day, they entered a large forest, and there found a little hut with an old woman in it.

John asked the old woman, “Do you know any man who can teach roguery?

“Here,” said the old woman, “here you may learn, for my son is a master of the art.”

Then John asked the son whether he could teach it perfectly?

Said the rogue: “I will teach your son well; return in four years, and if you know your son then I will not ask any recompense; but if you do not, then you must give me two hundred dollars.”

John now went home, and left his son to learn roguery and witchcraft. When the time was up, the father set out to see his son, considering as he went along by what he should know him. On his away he met a little man, who stopped him, and asked, “Why are you grieving and looking so mournful?”

“Oh,” replied John, “four years ago I left my son to learn roguery, and the master said, if I returned in that time and knew my son, I should have nothing to pay; but if I did not know him, I must give him two hundred dollars. Since I have no means of recognizing him, I am troubled where to procure the money.”

Then the little man told him to take a basket of bread with him, and when he came to the rogue’s house to put the basket under a hollow tree which stood there. The little bird which should peep out would be his son.

John went and did as he was told, and out came a little bird to peck at the bread. “Holloa, my son! Are you here?”

The son was very glad to hear his father’s voice. “Father, let us go!”

But first the rogue-master called out, “The Evil One must have told you where to find your son!”

So the father and son returned home, and on their way they met a coach. The son said to his father. “I will change myself into a fine greyhound, and then you can earn some money by me.”

The lord who was riding in the coach called out, “Man, will you sell your dog?”

“Yes,” replied the father.

“How much do you want for him?”

“Thirty dollars.”

“That is too much, my man,” said the lord, but on account of his very beautiful coat I will buy him of you.”

The bargain concluded, the dog was put inside the coach; but when they had traveled a mile or two, the greyhound jumped right out through the glass, and rejoined his father.

After this adventure they went home together, and the following day they went to the next village to market. On their way the son said, “Father, I will change myself into a horse, and then you can sell me. But first untie my bridle, and then I can change myself into the form of a man.”

The father drove his horse to market, and thither came the rogue-master and bought him for a hundred dollars.

But the father forgot to untie the bridle.

The rogue rode his horse home, and put him in the stable, and when the maid came with the corn, the horse said to her, “Undo my bridle, undo my bridle!”

“Ah, can you speak?” She was terrified, and untied the horse directly.

The horse thereupon became a sparrow, and flew away out at the door, pursued by the rogue, who changed himself also into a bird.

When they came up with each other, the rogue changed himself into water, and the other into a fish. But the rogue could not catch him so, and he changed himself into a cock.

But the other became a fox, and ate him..

Walther von der Vogelweide – Minnesinger

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

Walther von der Vogelweide, one of the most distinguished of the Minnesingers, was born in the latter half of the Twelfth Century of a noble family belonging to the Upper Thurgau. The name Vogelweide (Bird-meadow) appears to have been taken from that of their castle. The poet led a wandering life; sometimes at the court of Frederic, the Duke of Austria and Stiria; then kindly received by Philip Augustus, King of France.
But he remained long at the magnificent court of the Landgrave of Thuringia, the great patron of the poets of his age, who instituted the poetical contest called the War of Wartburg, in which Walther took part. A work is still preserved called “The Wartburg War,” consisting of the alternate songs of the bards who took part in this poetical joust.
Tradition places the date of this tuneful tourney in the year 1207, the most brilliant epoch of ancient German poetry, not only for the illustrious names which have been handed down to our day, but for the impulse given to the ancient national and heroic poetry by unknown minstrels. Hermann, Landgrave of Thuringia, had gathered round his court many of the most famous Minnesingers, who had celebrated in lays and ballads the warlike deeds of his martial house.
Heinrich von Ofterdingen appears as the champion of the Austrian prince. He throws down the gauntlet to all the poets, and offers to maintain the virtues of his hero against all the singer tribe, under penalty of being hanged in case of defeat.
Walther, as court poet of the Thuringian prince, accepts the challenge, and enters the lists against Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Walther regrets that he is obliged to declare against the Duke of Austria and his brave cavaliers; then he praises the King of France, Philip Augustus, in whose reign the poetry of the North of France rivaled the glory of the Provençal muse.
This the poet could testify from his own knowledge, for he had crossed the Rhine and visited the banks of the Seine. But in the course of the contest he partially recants, and sets the gracious Duke above the monarch, calling him the Sun; but the Landgrave he compares to the brightness that precedes the Sun.
Ofterdingen complains of Walther, accuses him of playing an unfair game, and resorts to Klinsor of Hungary to sustain the supremacy of Austria. The other champions call for Stempfel of Eisenach, who stands ready the halter; but Ofterdingen is protected by the Landgravine, who intercedes in his defense.
The place of the scene was the great Wartburg castle, a hall that still exists, and is shown as a monument of the joust…
Walther seems to have adopted all the habits and manners of the wandering minstrels of the times. He traveled from court to court, generally received with honor, tarrying with the German princes who protected the arts of poetry and music, and sometimes at foreign courts, and was welcomed everywhere.

When from the sod and the flowerets spring,

And smile to meet the sun’s bright ray,

When birds their sweetest carols sing,

Is all the morning pride of May.

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What lovelier than the prospect there?

Can earth boast anything more fair?

To me it seems an almost heaven,

So beauteous to my eyes

That vision bright is given.

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But when a lady chaste and fair,

Noble, and clad in rich attire,

Walks through the throng with gracious sir,

As sun that bids the stars retire –

Then, where are all thy boastings, May?

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What hast though beautiful and gay,

Compared with that supreme delight?

We leave thy loveliest flowers,

And watch that lady bright.

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Wouldst thou believe me – come and place

Before thee all this pride of May;

Then look but on my lady’s face,

And which is best and brightest say,

For me, how soon (if choice were mine)

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This would I take, and that resign,

And say, “Though sweet thy beauties, May

I’d rather forfeit all than lose my lady gay!”

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Wilhelm Wackernagel: “The Weeping Willow”

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

the weeping willow

The Third Thought the Best

Excerpt, “The Spirit of German Poetry:  A Series of translations from the German Poets, with Critical and Biographical Notices.”   Translated by Joseph Gostick.  1845.

Emanuel von Geibel: “Let No One”

Excerpt, “Lyrics and Ballads of Heine and Other German Poets.”  Translated by Frances Hellman.  1892.

Heine: “Heart, Despair Not”

Excerpt, “Lyrics and Ballads of Heine and Other German Poets.”  Translated by Frances Hellman.  1892.

Schiller: “The Commencement of the Nineteenth Century”

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

 

Heinrich Heine: “Love said…”

Excerpt, “Borrowed Plumes.”  Translations from German Poets by James Gribble.  1888.

love said

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

Friedrich Rückert: “Would You Hear A Heart’s Refrain?”

Excerpt, “Gems of German Lyrics:  Consisting of Selections from Ruckert, Lenau, Chamisso, Freiligrath and Others.”  Translated into English Verse by Henry D. Wireman.  1869.

 

would you hear

Heinrich Heine: “With Love’s Soft and Honeyed Phrases”

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

3with love's soft and honeyed

Nor Luck Nor Star

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