Category Archives: Christoph von Schmid

Christoph von Schmid: “The Hero Without Fear and Without Reproach”

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




All frowning o’er the valley green,

Girt by dark cliff and dusky wood,

Purpled in evening’s light serene.

An ancient mountain-castle stood.

See, how each lofty tower it rears.

All hoary with the pomp of years.

And clad in stately garments made

By the proud oak’s ancestral shade.


In days of yore, there dwelt within

A meek and angel-hearted maid,

Untouched by care, unstained by sin.

The gentle lady Adelaide.

All shadowed by her golden hair,

With eyes so clear, so still, so fair,

She seemed, in loveliness and love,

A herald from the heavens above.


Yet swiftly past that castle’s gate,

With trembling steps the wanderer hied,

The land around lay desolate

And tenantless on every side.

By thistles, thorns, and weeds alone

The earth’s forsaken ways were sown;

The castle’s silent walls, I trow.

Seemed grieving o’er the waste below.


For deep within that vale of woes,

A hideous monster, night and day,

With hungry jaws that never close,

Did fiercely prowl to seek his prey;

Clad was his serpent-form, I ween,

In scaly vest of shining green,

A thousand teeth—O sight of awe!—

Were weapons in the dragon’s jaw.


And once the sire of that fair dame

Had spurred his steed, and charged his spear,

(A warrior he of well-earned fame)

To battle with that beast of fear;

But spear, nor sword, nor lance avails

To pierce those adamantine scales;

And, by the monster torn and slain.

He died a gallant death, but vain.


In grief the sorrowing mother sank,

Upon the bed of sickness thrown,

She neither spake, nor ate, nor drank,

Nor heard her child’s consoling tone;

Beside her couch that maiden bright

Kept tearful watch by day and night,

Ready her own young life to give,

Her drooping mother’s to revive.


With parched lips and piteous look,

The dying lady faintly cried:

“Oh, bring me water from the brook

That wells beneath our mountain side!”

Silent in fear her damsels stand,

No foot is stirred at her command;

For, ah, beside that wave they know

Keeps grisly watch their dragon-foe!


The maid defied the natural dread,

Which made her frail limbs shake and quiver;

Praying God’s blessing on her head,

She sought that tiny mountain-river:

A thousand steps of deep descent

Adown the hill’s hard surface went,

Winding now right, now left, they led

Down to the streamlet’s narrow bed.


The fountain’s silver waves spring up

Above a low rock’s hollow rim;

The maiden plunges deep her cup

Till the clear streams o’erflow its brim.

Alas! within a cavern near

His form the beast did slowly rear,

And through those dusky shades, the light

Of his grim eyes gleamed fiery bright.


Forth, forth the furious monster leapt—

She cannot hide, she dares not fly,

But still her steadfast faith she kept,

And, kneeling, raised her prayerful eye;

“O gracious God, have mercy now!!

My mother’s sorrow pity Thou!

Alas, if I be slain, Thou know’st,

Hope for her sinking life is lost!”



But hark! a sudden sound awoke

Afar, like stifled thunder pealing,

And, pierced as by a lightning-stroke,

She saw the mighty dragon reeling:

A steed’s swift tread that thunder-peal—

That flash a lance of gleaming steel,

Hurled by a knightly hand, she saw

That weapon cleave the dragon’s jaw.


Hah! how the beast in rage and pain

Struggles and writhes, with failing strength.

And, low on that polluted plain,

Lies in his sable blood at length!

The graceful warrior, tall and slight,

Adorned with golden armour bright,

Now, from his courser leaping, paid

Fair reverence to the wondering maid.


“God’s blessing on thy fearless brand!”

All trembling thus the damsel spake;

“Lo! from thy brave and generous hand

My life in thankfulness I take!”

“Nay, thank thy God!” he cried; “by Him

Mine arm hath slain this monster grim!

Thy timid prayer with gracious ear

He heard, and winged my conquering spear.”


Beneath a pine-tree’s ancient shade

His faithful steed he fastens now,

And to the castle leads the maid

With tranquil and untroubled brow.

That freshening draught the mother takes,

Her eye in grateful light awakes,

The healing waters pour amain

Life, health, and power through every vein.


“Ah, warrior,” thus, in tears, she said,

“But for thy stalwart arm of force,

I, hapless lady, now were dead,

And this fair child a mangled corse!

Oh, teach me, noble knight, the way

Thy generous valour to repay!

Happy were I,” she said, and smiled,

“If thou would’st wed my gentle child.”


But wondrous pale the maiden grew—

Her eyes, so bright with hope before,

Did sadly gaze through gathering dew

Upon a star-gemmed ring she wore.

“To him who gave this ring,” she said;

Sobbing, “though he were cold and dead;

Till in the silent grave I lie,

Changeless I keep my constancy.”


“O beauteous maiden, weep no more!”

At once the warrior gently cried,

“Thine Adelstan shall God restore

In health and safety to thy side!

The filial deed thy hand hath done

For thee this fitting meed hath won;

This very night thine eyes shall see

Him thou hast loved so steadfastly.”


Even while he spake, there rose around

The martial trumpet’s thrilling strains,

And the castle-bridge, with clashing sound,

Fell sternly in its rattling chains;

Sir Adelstan, true knight, hath come

From Syrian shore to German home.

Oh, what a meeting-hour was here

To close such scenes of grief and fear!


The knight, whose hand so bold and brave,

Rescued that maid, and saved that mother,

And more—whose noble spirit gave

The faithful damsel to another,

Soon to the spousal altar drew

Beside that pair so fond and true,

And then, with buoyant heart and gay,

Mounted his steed and rode away.


Glad tidings of the dragon’s fall

From lip to lip did loudly sound,

They thank their God, those peasants all.

For many a circling mile around;

With tears of joy on every face

The fugitives return apace,

Until round that forsaken spot

Rises full many a cheerful cot.


The hero won his well-earned place

Amid the saints, in death’s dread hour;

And still the peasant seeks his grace,

And, next to God, reveres his power!

In many a church his form is seen

With sword, and shield, and helmet sheen:

Ye know him by his steed of pride,

And by the dragon at his side.


But more than all, that spirit high,

That knight without reproach or fear,

Was to the German chivalry

For ever and for ever dear;

Still was a father wont to say.

When in his arms his first-born lay,

“Slight tribute to our hero’s fame,

Lo, George shall be the infant’s name!”