Category Archives: Ferdinand Freiligrath

Ferdinand Freiligrath:  “The White Lady”

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

Visit here for more on The White Ladies of German Lore.

Schiller: “Homage Of The Arts”

Excerpt:  “Schiller’s Homage of the Arts, with it Miscellaneous Pieces from Rückert, Freiligrath, and Other German Poets.”  Translated by Charles T. Brooks. 1846.

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Wings! Wings!”

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

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Trumpet of Gravelotte”

Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker


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!

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.





Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Hussar Horse”

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

Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Westphalian Summer Song”

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


Ferdinand Freiligrath: “Drinking Song of the Westphalian Students”

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

drinking song2

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

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




New Year’s Eve 1848


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!


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!



“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.


“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!




“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.






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?


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!


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.


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!


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.

 battle of aboukir bay July 1798

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.


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.



Napoleon in Bivouac


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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



Ferdinand Freiligrath: The Spectre-Caravan

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


Next page →