Heinrich Heine: Romancero 2

“The Poems of Heine, Complete. Translated in the Original Meters, With a Sketch of Heine’s Life” by Edgar Alfred Bowring. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1861. From Book Two of “Romancero: Lamentations” – Written 1850 to 1851. (He never left his rooms after 1848.)

In October, 1849

The weather now is calm and mild,

And hush’d once more the tempest’s voice is,

And Germany, that o’ergrown child,

Once more in its old Christmas trees rejoices.

Domestic joys we now pursue,

All things beyond are false and hollow,

And to the house’s gable too,

Where once he built his nest, comes concord’s swallow.

Forest and stream rest peacefully,

With the soft moonlight o’er them playing;

But hark, a crack!A shot may’t be?

It is perchance some friend whom they are slaying.

Perchance with weapons in his hand,

Some madcap they have overtaken;

(All do not flight well understand

Like Horace, who so nimbly saved his bacon).

Crack, Crack!A fete, may I presume,

Or fireworks in Goethe’s honor?

Or Sontag rising from the tomb

Greeted by rockets showering down upon her?

And Franz Liszt appears again!

He lives, he lies not down dead and gory

On some Hungarian battle-plain,

Russian and Croat have not quenched his glory.

Freedom’s last bulwark was o’erthrown,

And Hungary to death is bleeding –

Franz, our knight, escaped alone,

His sword a quiet life at home is leading.

Franz still lives; when old and grey

Of the Hungarian war devoutly

He will tell his grandsons:“Thus I lay,

And thus my trusty blade I wielded stoutly!”

Hearing the name of Hungary,

My German waistcoat grows too narrow;

Beneath it foams a raging sea,

The trumpet’s clang seems thrilling through my marrow.

Once more across my memory throng

The hero-legend’s strains enthralling,

The wild and iron martial song,

The Nibelunge’s overthrow appalling.

‘Tis still the same heroic lot,

‘Tis still the same old noble stories;

The names are changed, the natures not, –

‘Tis still the same praiseworthy hero-glories.

And the same issue ‘tis once more;

However proudly flaunts the banner,

The hero, as in days of yore,

Yields to brute strength, but in a glorious manner.

This time the oxen and the bear

In firm alliance are united;

Thou fall’st; but, Magyar, ne’er despair,

Still more have all our German hopes been blighted!

While very decent beasts are they

Who have in fight become thy masters,

We have, alas, become the prey

Of wolves, swine, dogs – so great are our disasters.

They howl, grunt, bark, — the victor’s smell

Is such, I fain would do without it.

But, Poet, hush! – it were as well,

Seeing thou’rt ill, to say no more about it.