Category Archives: KÖRNER


The Battle of Nations
Father, I call to thee.
The roaring artillery's clouds thicken round me,
The hiss and the glare of the loud bolts confound me.
Ruler of battles, I call on thee
O Father, lead thou me!
O Father, lead thou me;
To victory, to death, dread Commander, O guide me;
The dark valley brightens when thou art beside me;
Lord, as thou wilt, so lead thou me.
God, I acknowledge thee.
God, I acknowledge thee;
When the breeze through the dry leaves of autumn is moaning,
When the thunder-storm of battle is groaning,
Fount of mercy, in each I acknowledge thee.
O Father, bless thou me!
O Father, bless thou me;
I trust in thy mercy, whate'er may befall me;
'Tis thy word that hath sent me; that word can recall me.
Living or dying, O bless thou me!
Father, I honor thee.
Father, I honor thee;
Not for earth's hoards or honors we here are contending;
All that is holy our swords are defending;
Then falling, and conquering, I honor thee.
God, I repose in thee.
God, I repose in thee;
When the thunders of death my soul are greeting,
When the gashed veins bleed, and the life is fleeting,
In thee, my God, I repose in thee.
Father, I call on thee.
, .

Carl Theodor Körner: “Covenant Song”

Excerpt, “Echoes:  or Leisure Hours with the German Poets.” Translated by A. C. Kendrick. Rochester:  1855.



 Before Battle of Dannenberg


Darkly boding, sternly, grimly,

Breaks the great, the awful day;

And the blood-red sun looks dimly

Down upon our bloody way.

In one pregnant hour assembling,

Crowd a nation’s fortunes vast;

And e’en now the lots are trembling,

And the iron die is cast.

Brothers, in holiest compact united,

Warned by the hour, be our solemn vow plighted,

Come life or come death, to be true to the last!


Look we back–night’s raven pinion

Wide o’er shame and insult waves;

 O’er our German oak’s dominion

Bowed and broke by foreign slaves.

On our tongue they heaped dishonor,

And our holiest rites blasphemed;

Brothers, we have pawned our honor;

German brothers, be’t redeemed.

Lo, where the flame of heaven’s vengeance is burning!

Up! and its curse from our country be turning!

Up, and be freedom’s lost charter redeemed!


Blessed hopes shine bright before us,

And the future’s golden days;

A whole heaven of bliss hangs o’er us,

Whence fair freedom pours her rays.

Art, all bright thou reappearest!

Song, again thy raptures burn!

Love and beauty, all that’s dearest,

All that’s brightest, see return.

Ye there awaits us a desperate daring;

Blood must be poured all free and unsparing:

Only in blood will our glory’s star burn.


Now-with God-we will not falter,

Boldly meet fate’s heaviest blow,

Lay our hearts on freedom’s altar,

And to death unshrinking go.

Native land, for thee we’ll perish;

All thy bidding will we dare;

They our bosoms fondly cherish

May thy blood-bought freedom share.

Oak of our country, grow broader and bolder!

Stretch thy proud arms o’er the spot where we moulder!

Hear, 0 our country, the oath that we swear!


Now your thoughts toward home’s sweet treasures

Yet for one brief moment cast;

Part ye from those blooming pleasures

Which the South’s fell poisons blast.

Though the silent tear be starting,

Shame shall ne’er such tears attend;

Waft them one last kiss at parting,

Then to God the Loved commend!

All the sweet lips that in prayer are awaking,

All the fond hearts that are bleeding and breaking,

Mighty Jehovah, console and defend!


Cheerly now to battle wending,

Eye and spirit heavenward turn;

Earthly life in darkness ending,

Lo, where heavenly glories burn!

Bravely on, each gallant brother!

Every nerve a hero prove!

Faithful hearts rejoin each other;

Now farewell each earthly love!

Hark ! where the thunders of battle are crashing!

On, where the storm of red lightning is flashing!

Meet again in the realms above!

C. Theodor Körner: “Goldner”

Excerpt, “German Stories: Tales and Traditions Chiefly Selected from the Literature of Germany.” 1855. 



A Fairy Tale Told by Körner

It may be two thousand years ago, or more, since a poor herdsman lived in a thick forest, where he had built a hut in which he dwelt with his wife and six children, all of whom were boys.  There was a clear cool spring near the little hut, and a small garden; and when the father was in the fields with his cattle, the children would oftentimes carry a refreshing draught to him from the spring or some cherry-cheeked apples from the garden.

The parents had called the youngest of their children Goldner; for his hair was bright and shining like gold, and although he was the youngest, yet was he taller and stronger than any of his brothers.  Whenever any of the children were abroad into the fields or the forest, Goldner went before them with a large stick in his hand.   Without him none of the other children would venture to leave the neighborhood of the hut, lest they should be carried off, or devoured by wild beasts, or some evil mischance peradventure should befall them; but under his guidance they would wander without fear through the thickest and gloomiest parts of the forest,–even though it was night-fall, and the moon had risen above the mountains.

One evening the boys, while returning home, had amused themselves long in the fields, and Goldner particularly had been so eager in the sport that his cheeks glowed like the crimson of the evening sky.  “Let us go home,” said the eldest, “for it seems to grow dark.”

“Look, there is the moon,” said the second; and all at once a clear light shows upon them, and they beheld a woman fair and radiant as the moon, seated on a mossy stone among the dark fir trees.  As the children gazed upon so beautiful a sight, they saw her twirling a crystal spindle, from which she spun a marvelous thread, which glittered brightly through the dark night; and ever as she spun, she nodded to Goldner, and sung these words:

“The snow-white Finch, and the gold Rose tree,

And the Crown that lies hidden beneath the sea.”

Perhaps she would have sung longer, and added other words than these, but her thread suddenly snapped in twain, whereupon she vanished like a light which is suddenly extinguished.  It was now quite dark, and the children seized with terror hastened away in different directions, over rocks and cliffs, till they had all lost sight of one another.

Long Goldner wandered in the thick forest, but he neither found his brothers, nor could perceive his father’s hub, or any trace of men; for all around him the trees of the forest grew close and thick together, and high mountains towered above his head to the very skies, while deep ravines crossed his path.  But for a few bramble-berries which he picked here and there, poor Goldner would have died of hunger and exhaustion.  But on the third day—some say that it was not until the sixth—the forest became clearer and clearer, and Goldner at last got out of it, and came to a beautiful green meadow.

The brave boy now felt his heart lightened, and began to breathe with delight the fresh air. There were a number of snares placed on the meadow,which belonged to a bird-catcher who dwelt near the spot, and who gained a livelihood by catching the beautiful singing-birds which came out of the forest, and selling them in the neighbouring town.

“It is just such a young spark as this I stand in need of,” thought the bird-catcher to himself, when he first perceived the gallant boy standing alone on the green meadow, and gazing upwards on the wide blue sky as if he never could tire at the sight.  So the bird-catcher thought he would play a trick on the young stranger, and drew his nets, whereupon poor Goldner was suddenly caught, and lay under the snare quite unable to comprehend what had happened to him.

“Thus we catch all foolish birds when they venture out of the forest,” said the bird-catcher, laughing aloud.  “Your crimson feathers just please me, brave boy, and methinks you are a sly one too, so be content to stay with me, and I shall teach you how to catch birds.”

Goldner was very well-pleased with this proposal; for it seemed to him that one would lead a very merry life among the gay birds, and he could not hope soon to regain his father’s hut.

“Come, let us see what you have learned,” said he bird-catcher one day to the boy.  So Goldner and he went out with the nets; and on his first trial Goldner caught a marvelous Finch that was as white as snow.

“Begone with your white Finch!” exclaimed the bird-catcher, when he beheld so rare a bird.  “Begone, sirrah; for you must be in compact with the Evil One!”  So he drove Goldner away from the meadow, and with many curses crushed the pretty white Finch beneath his feet.

Goldner knew not why the bird-catcher should have been so angry at his success; but he cheerfully took his way back into the forest, intending once more to seek his father’s hut.  Far he traveled through the thick and gloomy forest, among rocks and stones and decayed trees, till on the third day the forest became clearer and clearer, and on emerging from it, he found himself in a fine sunny garden, full of lovely flowers.

The boy had never before beheld so charming a site, and long he stood and gazed on the beautiful plants and flowers.  But when the gardener drew nigh and beheld Goldner standing in the midst of a plot of sunflowers, with his long golden locks glittering in the light of the sun, as radiant as the flowers with which he was surrounded, he thought to himself:  “It is just such a stripling as this I stand in need of.”  So he hastily shut the gate of the garden, and Goldner was well-pleased to stay with him, for he  thought he would lead such a pleasant life among the pretty flowers, especially as his hopes were now fainter of reaching his father’s hut.

“Go,” said the gardener one morning to Goldner, “go and fetch me a wild rose-bush from the forest, that I may graft my garden-roses upon it.”  So Goldner went to the forest, and soon returned with a marvelous bush of gold-coloured Roses, which looked as beautiful as if every flower and bud had been wrought by the most skillful goldsmith to ornament the table of a king.

“Begone with your golden Roses!” exclaimed the gardener, when he saw so rare a plant.  “Some evil thing befriends thee, thou vile one!” And with these words he pushed the wandering boy out of the garden, and trampled the beautiful Roses under his feet.

Goldner again took his way cheerfully back into the forest, and resolved once more to seek the way to his father’s hut.  On the third day of his wanderings the forest became clearer and clearer, and Goldner on getting out of it beheld the blue sea and spreading out before him into the infinite distance. The sun shone upon the liquid mirror, which glowed like burnished gold; and there were beautifully adorned ships, with gay pendants and silken sails, gliding majestically over the surface of the waters.  Goldner was ravished with so brave a sight, and having stepped into an elegant pinnace which lay moored to the shore, he gazed and gazed more delightfully on the wide waters and the azure sky.

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


Theodor Körner: “Men and Knaves”


Battle of Nations 1813





The storm is out; the land is roused;

Where is the coward who sits well-housed?

Fie, on thee, boy, disguised in curls,

Behind the stove, ‘mong gluttons and girls!

   A graceless, worthless wight thou must be;

   No German maid desires thee,

   No German song inspires thee,

   No German Rhine-wine fires thee.

       Forth in the van,

       Man by man,

   Swing the battle-sword who can!


When we stand watching, the livelong night,

Through piping storms, till morning light,

Thou to thy downy bed canst creep,

And there in dreams of rapture sleep.




When, hoarse and shrill, the trumpet’s blast,

Like the thunder of God, makes our hearts beat fast,

Thou in the theatre lov’st to appear,

Where trills and quavers tickle the ear.




When the glare of noonday scorches the brain,

When our parched lips seek water in vain,

Thou canst make the champagne corks fly,

At the groaning tables of luxury.




When we, as we rush to the strangling fight,

Send home to our true loves a long “Good night,”

Thou canst hie thee where love is sold,

And buy thy pleasure with paltry gold.




When lance and bullet come whistling by,

And death in a thousand shapes draws nigh,

Thou canst sit at thy cards, and kill

King, queen, and knave, with thy spadille.




If on the red field our bell should toll,

Then welcome be death to the patriot’s soul.

Thy pampered flesh shall quake at its doom,

And crawl in silk to a hopeless tomb.

   A pitiful exit thine shall be;

   No German maid shall weep for thee,

   No German song shall they sing for thee,

   No German goblets shall ring for thee.

       Forth in the van,

       Man for man,

   Swing the battle-sword who can!



Excerpt, “German Lyric Poetry:  A Collection of Songs and Ballads.”  Translated from the Best German Lyric Poets, with Notes by Charles Timothy Brooks.  1863.




Noisy day is done; its bright hues fade;

Redder glows the sun’s declining ray;

Here, beneath your spreading twilight shade,

Prompts my swelling heart the pensive lay.

True old chroniclers of ages gray,

Ye are still in life’s fresh green arrayed,

And the mighty forms of years gone by

Still are with us in your majesty.


Many a noble form has death laid low;

Many a flower too early snatched away;

Through your softly glimmering twigs e’en now

Steals the farewell smile of dying day.

Yet, unheeding Time’s remorseless flow,

Ye have bid defiance to decay;

In your twigs I hear a voice that saith,

Whispering, “What is great shall live through death!”


And ye have lived on! Ye tower on high,

Bold and fresh, in vigorous green arrayed.

Haply, not a pilgrim, journeying by,

But shall rest him in your soothing shade.

What though pale-faced Autumn, with a sigh,

Marks your leafy children fall and fade?

E’en in death they keep a precious trust;

Your spring glories bloom from out their dust.


Fair image of old German loyalty,

As in better days it has been known,

When, with glad devotion fired, the free,

Dying, laid their country’s cornerstone—

Why should I renew the pang? Ah me!

’Tis a pang each bosom feels its own!

Mightiest of the mighty, German land,

Thou art in the dust—thy old oaks stand!

Carl Theodor Körner: Wallhaide

Excerpt, “Ballads from the German.”  Translator, Henry Englis.  1864.

Where yonder crumbling ruins lower,

Where the evening light lies gleaming,

Once stood a lordly castled tower,

Now in its desolation dreaming.

Now hurtles the shower

Through hall and bower,–

And the spirits of the dead have power

At the midnight hour.


In the days of ancient chivalry,

There lived a wild and warrior knight;

Stern and grave in his home was he,

And a fiery champion in fight;–

But his daughter, she

Had the gentle glee

Of sunlight on the summer sea.



Calm was her course of household care,

Far from the world’s turmoil and strife;

Yet had this maiden vowed to wear

A lover’s memory for life;

And a courser rare

Her Rudolph bare,

The treasures of her heart to share.


And as the sunbeams sank to rest,

She glided down the sylvan dell,

Soft as a zephyr from the west,

To meet Love’s lonely sentinel;

And to her breast

He held her pressed,

In the silence of that sylvan nest.


Awhile, in momentary bliss,

All Eden was around them;

But straight the gathering bloom,

From lovers’ dream unbound them.

Can tongue express

The last caress,

The unutterable tenderness

Of kiss for kiss?


Swiftly the summer waned away;

But waxing passion doth not wane,

But still is driven by delay

To an intensity of pain;

And one sad day

Heard Rudolph pray,

“Give me thy daughter, sire, for aye,



Fiercely the haughty knight replied,

Disdain upon his gloomy brow:

What means this puling tone?” he cried;

“My child is not for such as thou!

She may weep and chide,

But a Baron of pride

Claims her in the morning tide

For his bride.”


It was as if his knell had tolled;

And Rudolph vaulted on his steed.

Through sinew and bone of his mortal mould

He shivered like a winter reed;

And the rider bold

Rode deathlike from the grim stronghold.


And then some gleams of hope appear,

And the dead heart is born again;

A phantom to his vision clear

Has called him back to living men,

And whispers near,

“Be of good cheer;

Jehovah bends a willing ear

True love to hear.”


And as the sunbeams sank to rest,

She glided down the sylvan dell,

Soft as a zephyr from the west,

To meet Love’s lonely sentinel;

And to his breast

He held her pressed,

In the silence of that sylvan nest.


Awhile in Eden they abide,

But Rudolph spoke these words at last:

“At midnight, when the shadows hide,

When treason lies in slumbers fast,

I and my bride,

East side by side,

To a far distant land shall ride;

My joy and pride!”


Next moment saw the maiden lie

Enraptured on his bosom dear;

Another moment heard her sigh

These trembling words of hope and fear:

“Oh! The walls are high,

The warders nigh

The livelong night—

And how shall I to Rudolph fly?


“And yet, though gates and turrets rear

Their barriers ’gainst a timid maid,

The shield of Love shall blunt the spear,

The torch of Love shall light the shade;

When Love is near,

Shall lover fear,

E’en though he lie in dungeon drear?

My  Rudolph, hear!


“When Wundehold of yore was heir

Of yonder dismal mountain dwelling,

He had a daughter bright and fair,

A flower all others flowers excelling:

Her name I bear,

Her fate I share;

For she was loved beyond compare,

Yonder there.


“Her lover held her faith and plight,

For life to last, through good and ill;

And in her cruel sire’s despite

She kept her plighted promise still;

And she chose for flight

The dark midnight,

With the torch of Love to bear the light,

This maiden bright.


“But treason hath a deadly sting,

The dastard foeman of the brave;

And the bird of night still flaps his wing

Above a long and bloody grave;

And the minstrels sing

Of a fearful thing,

How the maiden’s shriek was heard to ring

Through the wild winds’ swing.


“Her wandering spirit knows no rest,

No slumber taketh in the tomb;

Still by the postern is her quest

At midnight in the ghostly gloom,

That she may be pressed

To her lover’s breast:

He still obeys her heart’s behest

The phantom-guest.


“For many a year this hapless bride,

In blood-besprinkled garments dressed,

Is cherished here, and far and wide.

A silent solitary guest

Through the portals wide

Is seen to glide,

And the warders long have ceased to chide,

But stand aside.


“So, as for love her blood was shed,

To love her spirit will incline:

She will permit these robes of red

For a brief season to be mine;

And when guards have fled

From the waking dead,

Through the ghostly gloom I shall freely tread

In her stead.


“Now wait ye at the postern door,

And when the hour of twelve has tolled,

In breezy garments stained with gore,

The spirit of the dead behold!

Thou wilt restore

The form she wore,

And thy steed shall bear us for evermore

To some distant shore.”


“Oh, glorious maiden, peerless flower!”

Thus whispered Rudolph to his fair;

“Once let us quit this fatal tower!

Away with doubt, away with care:

Hail to the dower

Of the wedlock bower!

Adieu in joy! I will wait the power

Of the midnight hour.”


Ah, how their lips and hearts entwine!

But Rudolph must no longer dally;

She wafted him a parting sign

As he went speeding down the valley:

“Love, thou art mine—

Love, I am thine;

Thou shalt be mine, and I be thine,

Though Heaven and Hell combine.”


And when the night waxed dark and late,

Came Rudolph riding up the vale:

That valley’s gloom was black as hate,

And the starlight glimmered pale:

And he hasted straight

To the castle gate,

There at her bidding to await

His fate.


And when the hour from the tower-clock tolled,

Wallhaide was seen to glide;

A waving veil’s exsanguined fold

Her form and lineaments to hide;

And the rider bold,

In her mantle rolled,

Has borne her far by wood and wold

From the grim stronghold.


And long they rode, and silently;

The bride was leaning on his heart:

“My love, how chanceth it,” quoth he,

“That thou so light of burden art?”

“Oh, list to me:

That well may be,

For my robes are light as the mists that flee

O’er the dewy lea.”


Then shuddered he from head to feet,

As he clasped her shadowy form:

“Thou art icy cold,” he said, “my sweet,

Though the fire of love is warm.”

“Ah, yes! There is heat

When lovers meet;

But my bed was cold as a winding sheet

Of the winter sleet.”


Onwards they rode, with the pale moonshine

And the glimmer stars above.

“Though cold thy form incarnadine,

Thy faithful bosom glows with love.”

“Love, I am thine,

And thou art mine;

Thou shalt be mine, and I be thine,

Though Heaven and Hell combine.”


And ever they rode by the pale moonshine,

And the night hours flitted past.

“My spirit now shall cease to pine;

I have found my love at last:

Love, I am thine,

And thou art mine;

Thou shalt be  mine, and I be thine,

Though Heaven and Hell combine.”


Slow dawned the morning’s ashen hue:

They wended on by hold and hill;

More motionless the maiden grew,

And colder and colder still:

Then the cock crew

The night’s adieu,

And she glided to the ground, and drew

Her lover too.


“Hush! How the morning breezes blow,

Contending with the storms of night!

I hear the cock’s shrill clarion-crow;

We will be bed, my heart’s delight;

Come, let us go,

For weal or woe;

There is no Heaven nor Hell, I trust,

Down below.”


And kisses cold as winter snow

Upon his pallid lips are pressed,

And corpse-like vapours float and flow,

And clasp him in their folds unblessed;

And the pulses slow

Have ceased to glow;

And her lover she has found, I trow,

Down below.


Carl Theodor Körner

Christoph August Tiedge: “To the Memory of Körner”



Portrait (1813–14) by Emma Sophie Körner.


Proudly, e’en now, the young oak waved on high,

Hung round with youthful green full gorgeously;

And calmly graceful, and yet bold and free,

Reared its majestic head in upper sky.


Hope said, “How great, in coming days, shall be

That tree’s renown!” Already, far or nigh,

No monarch of the forest towered so high.


The trembling leaves murmured melodiously

As love’s soft whisper; and its branches rung

As if the master of the tuneful string,

Mighty Apollo, there his lyre had hung.


But, ah! It sank. A storm had bowed its pride!

Alas, untimely snatched in life’s green spring,

My noble youth the bard and hero, died!


Where sleeps my youth upon his country’s breast?

Show me the place where ye have laid him down.

‘Mid his own music’s echoes let him rest,

And in the brightness of his fair renown.


Large was his heart; his free and heavenward pressed;

Alternate songs and deeds his brow did crown.

Where sleeps my youth upon his country’s breast?

Show me the place where ye have laid him down.


“The youth lies slumbering where the battleground

Drank in the blood of noble hearts like rain.”


There, youthful hero, in thine ear shall sound

A grateful echo of thy harp’s last strain;

“Oh, Father, bless thou me!” shall ring again;

That blessing thou in calmer world hast found.


Ye who so keenly mourn the loved one’s death,

Go with me to the mound that marks his grave,

And breathe awhile the consecrated breath

Of the old oak whose boughs high o’er him wave.


Sad Friendship there hath laid the young and brave;

Her hand shall guide us thither. Hark! She saith,

“Beneath the hallowed oak’s cool, peaceful breath

These hands had dug the hero’s silent grave;


Yet were the dear remains forbid to reset

Where lip to lip in bloody strife was pressed,

And ghastly death stares from the mouldering heap;

A statelier tomb that sacred dust must keep;


A German prince hath spoken: This new guest,

And noblest, in a princely hall shall sleep.”


There rests the Muse’s son – his conflicts o’er.

Forget him not, my German country, thou!


The wreath that twined around his youthful brow

May deck his urn – but him, alas! No more.

Dost ask, thou herdsmaid, for those songs of yore?

Though fled his form, his soul is with us now.


And ye who mourn the hero gone before,

Here on his grave renew the patriot vow;

Through freedom’s holy struggle he hath made,

Ye noble German sons, his heavenward way.


Feel what he felt, when bending o’er his clay;

Thus honor him, while, in the green-arched shade,

Sweet choirs of nightingales, through grove and glade,

Awake the memory of his kindling lay.




Theodor Körner: “That Was I”

By Theodor Körner (1791-1813). Set by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), “Das war ich,” D. 174 (1815), published 1845. Translation © Emily Ezust, from The Lied & Art Song Texts Page.

Das war ich

Recently I dreamed that I saw on the bright heights

a maiden walking in the young day –

she was so sweet and lovely, that she was entirely like you.

And before her knelt a young man,

who seemed to draw her gently to his chest:

and that was I.

Soon the scene had changed,

and in a deep flood I saw now the fair one,

her last bit of strength disappearing.

There came a youth flying to her aid:

he sprang after her and pulled her from the waves;

and that was I.

So the dream unfolded in colorful lines,

and everywhere I saw love triumph,

and everything revolved around you!

You flew ahead in unbound freedom,

the youth trailing behind you with quiet fidelity:

and that was I!

And when I finally awakened from this dream,

the new day brought new yearning;

your dear, sweet face remained floating in front of me.

I saw you enjoying the ardor of kisses,

I saw you lying blissfully in the arms of the youth:

and that was I!



Frederic Kind: “Körner’s Oak”

Excerpt, “The Life of Carl Theodor Körner: With Selections from his Poems, Tales and Dramas.” In Two Volumes. Christian Gottfried Körner. Translator: G.F. Richardson. 1827.

Among the various poetic effusions, which have been consecrated by the bards of Germany, to the memory of the youthful soldier and poet, I have selected for translation the following singular but spirited effusion of the poet King. I have chosen this from the other tributes to Körner, not only because it serves to exemplify, in a peculiar manner, the veneration of his countrymen for his memory; but because it also embodies and illustrates passages of some of his own most admired compositions. The extracts from Körnerare printed in italics.

korner's oak


A Fantasy

By Frederic Kind

Time, Twilight, the sky all obscured with thick clouds. Under an old oak is a fresh-dug grave. A grey-headed old man, wrapt in a dark robe, is leaning on the stem of the oak. From the distance approaches a host of warriors singing strains of mournful tone, and bearing, in the midst, a coffin on a bier.


“God, I yield myself to thee!

When the thunders of battle are loud in their strife,

And my opening veins pour forth my life,

God, I yield my life to thee!

Father, I call on thee!”


Stand, warriors! And report: Whose corse is this

Which, with that lovely, but terrific song,

Ye bear, among you, to its mother earth?

For know, this oak o’ershadows holy ground:

A valiant band hath chosen me to guard

This grave, and keep it for as brave a heart

As ever beat within the breast of youth.


Say, who appointed thee to guard this grave?


Nor we – not we – Ghost of the tomb – avaunt!


Nay, rev’rence age, halt, and set down the bier.

Whoe’er thou art, whose voice thus chilly sounds

Through night’s deep gloom, know, ‘twas a noble heart

That beat within our parted brother’s breast.

See’st thou yon oak-wreath on his coffin placed?

He who won that – won, too, a freeman’s grave!


Yet must I bar your access to this grave:

For I was not unhonour’d in my day,

And all those deeds that I in youth beheld,

That live in deathless songs of fight and fame,

The present age hath wond’rously restored.

Our fathers live, the old world wakes again;

Many have well deserved the oaken crown,

But he, whom here our mother earth awaits,

Was worthier.


Yes, he was; yet, good old man,

I pray thee rouse not thus my comrades’ ire.

Knowest thou the youth here mantled in his pall?

The winged steed of song could not suffice him,

Nor e’en earth’s narrow circle; he aspired

To nobler flights, and soar’d beyond the stars!

Speak, friends! That from your several witnessing

This Rhadamanthus may extract the truth.


He who sleeps in his coffin here

Obey’d the call to glory’s strife,

And his minstrel art he counted dear,

As the noblest gift of mortal life.


And he sung, in youthful fancy’s dreams,

Of the gifts of nature’s glorious dower;

And still his sweetest, fondest themes

Were of love and of beauty’s magic power!


But when the youth, with patriot ire,

Beheld his country desolate,

He bade sublimer strains aspire,

And praised and envied Zriny’s fate!


He woke again Alcaeus’ lyre,

He pointed to blest views on high;

And wide as’rung his notes of fire,

Did weapons gleam and banners fly!


The power of song is not unknown to me.

The bards of old – believe the tale, young man!

Were never idle when the time required;

And often have their echoes met my ear,

When ‘mid the ripen’d harvest songs of fight,

Through field and wood, from hill and valley, rang.


Our fathers too were worthy of their bards,

Yet he whom here our mother earth awaits

Was nobler still! The minstrel’s song of fire

Awakes the warrior’s steel, itself no weapon,

And well ye know the strife requires the sword.


All this felt he, who sleeps within this bier.


He flew through smoke and fire,

To where the danger prest;

And cross’d the sword and lyre

Upon his warrior breast!


He shone like one of those

Bright forms, to whom ‘tis given

Against his hellish foes

To guard the King of heaven.


Though arm’d with glittering spear,

And flaming sword of might;

The monsters disappear,

And sink in endless night.


With a face like a face of light,

And a form like those above,

So shone he to our sight,

So lives he to our love!


Who sings of noble deeds, in noble strains,

Deserves great honour; but far greater he

Who dares, himself, achieve the deeds of song.


Yet must I bar your access to this grave:

For have not youth and age unsheathed the sword

Prepared for freedom and her holy band?

And have not German sire and son gone forth,

And burn’d with ardour for the patriot strife?

Yet all have not deserved the noblest meed!


The phoenix flies, from instinct, to the flames,

Seeks death, and finds it. Venerable sage!

Look on our dead one! See the crimson gore!

He sung, he fought, he fell but for his country.


He draws back to the covering of the coffin.

Several warriors draw near with torches. The bloody corse

Is seen covered with oak-leaves.

OLD MAN (after a pause)

Yes, lay the honour’d youth in honour’d dust;

And lay a sword, too, with him in the tomb!

That thus, when many suns have run their course,

Should shame and slav’ry threaten our loved land,

The peasant, when he ploughs the sabre up,

May know what deeds his ancestors have done.


Yet, not his sword, — each sword is needed now:

And see! His steel is keen, and fit for war.

Ye’ll find another sabre; search and see.


Yes, in the twilight, as we dug this grave,

And found it deep, and cover’d stone with stone,

Hoping to find a treasure buried there,

We only found, at length, this iron sword,

Weighty and strong, and half consumed with rust.


The old man bows his head slowly and significantly,

Yields a step backward, and then remains fixed.


How strange is this! Obey the hoary sage.


The sword is placed in the coffin: While this is done,

And as it is covered with earth

CHORUS sings,

“He wakes us now to prospects blest

Of happier days and brighter skies;

He inspires each warrior’s breast;

Germans all, awake! Arise!


He leads us through the path of night,

He the guide of all our ways,

To youthful Freedom’s dawning light:

To Him alone be all the praise!”


Now carve our dead one’s name upon the stem,

That future ages may know Körner’s Oak.

Come, comrades! Haste, and bear your torches here!



At this moment, before the torches approach, the

Moon beams from behind a cloud, and lights the

Stem: The old man disappears.


Where is the old man now?


Dissolved in air!

The very moment that the moon shone out.

I saw him as he vanish’d; his white beard

Flow’d like a stream of silver on his breast,

And mildest looks were gleaming from his eye;

An oak-wreath twined around his hoary brow,

And a harp echoed in his waving hand!


See! The tree trembles! And its lofty boughs

Shake in the blast, while all around is calm!

VOICE from the Oak

At the moment the bark is carved with his name.


This oak o’er-shadows now two sleeping bards.


Hark! Hark! The earth speaks!


Sounds are heard on high,

Like songs of spirits or wind-harmonies.



Soft music is heard,

which soon becomes mingled with song.

A VOICE from above

Cease to mourn the will of Heaven;

Know, a sacred cross of light

The Lord, himself, to me hath given,

To hear before you in the fight.

CHORUS on high

And our banner beams bright in the heavenly field,

And heaven must conquer, and hell must yield.

Glory to God!


Welcome, breathen! Come with sword,

Come with lances in your hand;

Descend, ye warriors of the Lord!

Descend and save your native land!


We stand by your side in this holy strife,

And lead you to glory and endless life.

Honour to God! Gloria! Gloria!


Music and singing are heard


Hark! Heard ye what the choir of angels sang?


He throws himself on the ground; and, while praying,

Lifts up his sword to heaven. All kneel ‘round him

In a circle.


O lead us through life, and through death, we pray;

To success, and to Freedom’s dawning day!


In the distance a long continued peal of thunder.

Rising up with enthusiasm.


Now, comrades draw your swords! God is with us!


(joyfully uniting in song)



“The marriage-morn of strife

Dawns for the soldier’s wife.”


Theodor Körner: “Addressed to a Lady”

woman in library1.


Farewell, farewell, with silent grief of heart.
I breathe adieu, to follow duty now;
And if a silent tear unbidden start,
It will not, love, disgrace a soldier’s brow.

Where’er I roam, should joy my path illume,
Or death entwine the garland of the tomb.
Thy lovely form shall float my path above,
And guide my soul to rapture and to love!


O hail and bless, sweet spirit of my life,
The ardent zeal that sets my soul on fire;
That bids me take a part in yonder strife,
And for the sword, awhile, forsake the lyre.


For, see, thy minstrel’s dreams were not all vain
Which he so oft hath hallow’d in his strain;
O see the patriot-strife at length awake!
There let me fly, and all its toils partake.

The victor’s joyous wreath shall bloom more bright
That’s pluck’d amid the joys of love and song
And my young spirit hails with pure delight
The hope fulfill’d which hath cherish’d Song.

Let me but struggle for my country’s good,
E’en though I shed for her my warm life-blood
And now one kiss e’en though the last it prove;
For there can be no death for our true love.


Theodor Körner: “Words of Love”



Words of love, ye whisper as soft
As the zephyrs that breezes of Paradise waft:
Words of love, whose blest control
Hath mightiest influence on my soul,
Though affliction and grief o’er my spirit prevail,
Yet my faith in your virtue shall never fail.


.Is there on earth such a transport as this,
When the look of the loved one avows her bliss?
Can life an equal joy impart
To the bliss that lives in a lover’s heart?

O, he, be assured, hath never proved
Life’s holiest joys who hath never loved.


Yet the joys of love, so heavenly fair,

Can, exist but when honour and virtue are there;

For the soul of woman is tender and pure,

And her faith is approved, ’twill for ever endure.

Then trust ye to love, and its virtue believe,
For beauty and truth can never deceive.


But the spring of life is fast fading away,
Then prove your faith while yet you may ;
It lives when all things fall and die,
Like a ray of bliss from its native sky;
And were all creation to ruin hurled,
It would live in a brighter and better world.

Then whisper ye words of love as soft
As the zephyrs that breezes of Paradise waft:
Words of lore, whose blest control
Hath divinest influence o’er my soul.
Though all things else should faithless prove,
I will trust the words of love.



Karl Theodor Körner: “Good Night!”



Good night!  Be thy cares forgotten quite!

Day approaches to its close;

Weary nature seeks repose.

Till the morning dawn in light,

Good night!


Go to rest!

Close thine eyes in slumber blest!

Now ‘t is still and tranquil all;

Hear we but the watchman’s call,

And the night is still and blest.

Go to rest!


Slumber sweet!

Heavy forms thy fancy greet!

Be thy visions from above,

Dreams of rapture – dreams of love!

And the fair one’s form you meet.

Slumber sweet!


Good night!

Slumber till the morning light!

Slumber till the dawn of day

Brings its sorrows with its ray!

As the fair one’s form you meet,

Sleep without or fear or fright!

Our father wakes!  Good night!

Good night!


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