Category Archives: KÖRNER


Christoph August Tiedge: “To the Memory of Körner”

THEODOR KÖRNER].

THEODOR KÖRNER

Portrait (1813–14) by Emma Sophie Körner.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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“The youth lies slumbering where the battleground

Drank in the blood of noble hearts like rain.”

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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.

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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.

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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;

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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;

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A German prince hath spoken: This new guest,

And noblest, in a princely hall shall sleep.”

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

Forget him not, my German country, thou!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

KÖRNER’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.

CHORUS OF WARRIORS CONCLUDES

“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!”

THE OLD MAN

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.

LEADER

Say, who appointed thee to guard this grave?

SEVERAL VOICES

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

LEADER

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!

OLD MAN

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.

LEADER

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.

FIRST WARRIOR

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.

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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!

SECOND WARRIOR

But when the youth, with patriot ire,

Beheld his country desolate,

He bade sublimer strains aspire,

And praised and envied Zriny’s fate!

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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!

OLD MAN

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.

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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.

LEADER

All this felt he, who sleeps within this bier.

THIRD AND YOUNG WARRIOR

He flew through smoke and fire,

To where the danger prest;

And cross’d the sword and lyre

Upon his warrior breast!

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He shone like one of those

Bright forms, to whom ‘tis given

Against his hellish foes

To guard the King of heaven.

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Though arm’d with glittering spear,

And flaming sword of might;

The monsters disappear,

And sink in endless night.

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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!

OLD MAN

Who sings of noble deeds, in noble strains,

Deserves great honour; but far greater he

Who dares, himself, achieve the deeds of song.

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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!

LEADER

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.

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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.

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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.

A GRAVE-DIGGER (to the LEADER)

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.

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The old man bows his head slowly and significantly,

Yields a step backward, and then remains fixed.

LEADER

How strange is this! Obey the hoary sage.

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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!

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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!”

LEADER

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!

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At this moment, before the torches approach, the

Moon beams from behind a cloud, and lights the

Stem: The old man disappears.

LEADER

Where is the old man now?

WARRIOR

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.

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

SEVERAL

Hark! Hark! The earth speaks!

OTHERS

Sounds are heard on high,

Like songs of spirits or wind-harmonies.

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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!

WARRIORS

Welcome, breathen! Come with sword,

Come with lances in your hand;

Descend, ye warriors of the Lord!

Descend and save your native land!

CHORUS

We stand by your side in this holy strife,

And lead you to glory and endless life.

Honour to God! Gloria! Gloria!

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Music and singing are heard

LEADER

Hark! Heard ye what the choir of angels sang?

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

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

In a circle.

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

To success, and to Freedom’s dawning day!

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In the distance a long continued peal of thunder.

Rising up with enthusiasm.

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

ALL

(joyfully uniting in song)

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“The marriage-morn of strife

Dawns for the soldier’s wife.”

Hurrah!

Theodor Körner: “Addressed to a Lady”

woman in library1.

.ADDRESSED TO A LADY.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Theodor Körner: “Words of Love”

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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.

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.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?

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

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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.

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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.

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Karl Theodor Körner: “Good Night!”

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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