"God in Heaven, but that is terrible!" exclaimed Frau von S.
"Bad enough! The Turks consider us Christians no better than dogs; the worst of it was that my strength left me with the hard work; I grew older, too, and was still expected to do as in former years." He was silent for a moment. "Yes," he then said, "it was beyond human strength and human patience, and I was unable to endure it. From there I got on a Dutch vessel."
"But how did you get there?" asked the Baron.
"They fished me out of the Bosphorus," replied John. The Baron looked at him in astonishment and raised his finger in warning; but John continued. "On the vessel I did not fare much better. The scurvy broke out; whoever was not absolutely helpless was compelled to work beyond his strength, and the ship's tow ruled as severely as the Turkish whip. At last," he concluded, "when we arrived in Holland, at Amsterdam, they let me go free because I was useless, and the merchant to whom the ship belonged sympathized with me, too, and wanted to make me his porter. But," he shook his head, "I preferred to beg my way along back here."
"That was foolish enough!" said the Baron.
John sighed deeply. "Oh, sir, I had to spend my life among Turks and heretics; should I not at least go to rest in a Catholic cemetery?"
The lord of the estate had taken out his purse. "Here, John, now go and come back soon. You must tell me the whole story more in detail; today it was a bit confused. I suppose you are still very tired."
"Very tired," replied John; "and"—he pointed to his forehead—"my thoughts are at times so curious I cannot exactly tell how things are."
"I understand," said the baron; "that is an old story. Now, go. Huelsmeyer will probably put you up for another night; come again tomorrow."
Herr von S. felt the deepest sympathy with the poor chap; by the next day he had decided where to lodge him; he should take his meals in the castle and his clothing could, of course, be provided for too. "Sir," said John, "I can still do something; I can make wooden spoons and you can also send me on errands."
Herr von S. shook his head sympathetically. "But that wouldn't work so remarkably well."
"Oh, yes, sir, if once I get started—I can't move very fast, but I'll get there somehow, and it won't be as hard as you might think, either."
"Well," said the Baron, doubtfully, "do you want to try it? Here is a letter to P. There is no particular hurry." The next day John moved into his little room in the house of a widow in the village. He carved spoons, ate at the castle, and did errands for the Baron. On the whole he was getting along tolerably well; the Baron's family was very kind, and Herr von S. often conversed with him about Turkey, service in Austria, and the ocean. "John could tell many things," he said to his wife, "if he wasn't so downright simple."
"More melancholic than simple," she replied; "I am always afraid he'll lose his wits some day."
"Not a bit of it," answered the Baron; "he's been a simpleton all his life; simple people never go crazy." Some time after, John stayed away much longer than usual on an errand. The good Frau von S. was greatly worried and was already on the point of sending out people, when they heard him limping up the stairs.
"You stayed out a long time, John," she said; "I was beginning to think you had lost your way in the forest of Brede."
"I went through Fir-tree Hollow."
"Why, that's a long roundabout way! Why didn't you go through the Brede Woods?"
He looked up at her sadly. "People told me the woods were cut down and there were now so many paths this way and that way that I was afraid I would not find my way out. I am growing old and shaky," he added slowly.
"Did you see," Frau von S. said afterwards to her husband, "what a queer, squinting look there was in his eyes? I tell you, Ernest, there's a bad ending in store for him!"
Meanwhile September was approaching. The fields were empty, the leaves were beginning to fall, and many a hectic person felt the scissors on his life's thread. John, too, seemed to be suffering under the influence of the approaching equinox; those who saw him at this time said he looked particularly disturbed and talked to himself incessantly—something which he used to do at times, but not very often. At last one evening he did not come home. It was thought the Baron had sent him somewhere. The second day he was still not there. On the third his housekeeper grew anxious. She went to the castle and inquired. "God forbid!" said the Baron, "I know nothing of him; but, quick!—call the forester and his son William! If the poor cripple," he added, in agitation, "has fallen even into a dry pit, he cannot get out again. Who knows if he may not even have broken one of his distorted limbs! Take the dogs along," he called to the foresters on their way, "and, first of all, search in the quarries; look among the stone-quarries," he called out louder.
The foresters returned home after a few hours; no trace had been found. Herr von S. was restless. "When I think of such a man, forced to lie like a stone and unable to help himself, I—but he may still be alive; a man can surely hold out three days without food." He set out himself; inquiry was made at every house, horns were blown everywhere, alarms were sent out, and dogs set on the trail—in vain! A child had seen him sitting at the edge of the forest of Brede, carving a spoon. "But he cut it right in two," said the little girl. That had happened two days before. In the afternoon there was another clue. Again a child had seen him on the other side of the woods, where he had been sitting in the shrubbery, with his face resting on his knees as though he were asleep. That was only the day before. It seemed he had kept rambling about the forest of Brede.
"If only that damned shrubbery weren't so dense! Not a soul can get through it," said the Baron. The dogs were driven to the place where the woods had just been cut down; the searching-party blew their horns and hallooed, but finally returned home, dissatisfied, when they had convinced themselves that the animals had made a thorough search of the whole forest. "Don't give up! Don't give up!" begged Frau von S. "It's better to take a few steps in vain than to leave anything undone." The Baron was almost as worried as she; his restlessness even drove him to John's room, although he was sure not to find him there. He had the room of the lost man opened. Here stood his bed still in disorder as he had left it; there hung his good coat which the Baroness had had made for him out of the Baron's old hunting-suit; on the table lay a bowl, six new wooden spoons, and a box. Herr von S. opened the box; five groschen lay in it, neatly wrapped in paper, and four silver vest-buttons. The Baron examined them with interest. "A remembrance from Mergel," he muttered, and stepped out, for he felt quite oppressed in the musty, close room. The search was continued until they had convinced themselves that John was no longer in the vicinity—at least, not alive.
So, then, he had disappeared for the second time! Would they ever find him again—perhaps some time, after many years, find his bones in a dry pit? There was little hope of seeing him again alive, or, at all events, certainly not after another twenty-eight years.
One morning two weeks later young Brandes was passing through the forest of Brede, on his way from inspecting his preserve. The day was unusually warm for that time of the year; the air quivered; not a bird was singing; only the ravens croaked monotonously in the branches and opened their beaks to the air. Brandes was very tired. He took off his cap, heated through by the sun; and then he put it on again; but one way was as unbearable as another, and working his way through the knee-high underbrush was very laborious. Round about there was not a single tree save the "Jew's beech"; for that he made, therefore, with all his might, and stretched himself on the shady moss under it, tired to death. The coolness penetrated to his limbs so soothingly that he closed his eyes.
"Foul mushrooms!" he muttered, half asleep. There is, you must know, in that region a species of very juicy mushrooms which live only a few days and then shrivel up and emit an insufferable odor. Brandes thought he smelt some of these unpleasant neighbors; he looked around him several times, but did not feel like getting up; meanwhile his dog leaped about, scratched at the trunk of the beech, and barked at the tree. "What have you there, Bello? A cat?" muttered Brandes. He half opened his lids and the Hebrew inscription met his eye, much distorted but still quite legible. He shut his eyes again; the dog kept on barking and finally put his cold nose against his master's face.
"Let me alone! What's the matter with you, anyway?" Brandes was lying on his back, looking up; suddenly he jumped up with a bound and sprang into the thicket like one possessed.
Pale as death he reached the castle; a man was hanging in the "Jew's Beech-tree"; he had seen his limbs suspended directly above his face. "And you did not cut him down, you fool?" cried the Baron.
"Sir," gasped Brandes, "if Your Honor had been there you would have realized that the man is no longer alive. At first I thought it was the mushrooms!" Nevertheless Herr von S. urged the greatest haste, and went out there himself.
They had arrived beneath the beech. "I see nothing," said Herr von S. "You must step over there, right here on this spot!" Yes, it was true; the Baron recognized his own old shoes. "God, it is John! Prop up the ladder!—so—now down—gently, gently! Don't let him fall! Good heaven, the worms are at him already! But loose the knot anyway, and his necktie!" A broad scar was visible; the Baron drew back. "Good God!" he said; he bent over the body again, examined the scar with great care, and in his intense agitation was silent for some time. Then he turned to the foresters. "It is not right that the innocent should suffer for the guilty; just tell everybody this man here"—he pointed to the dead body—"was Frederick Mergel."
The body was buried in the potter's field.
As far as all main events are concerned, this actually happened during the month of September in the year 1789.
The Hebrew inscription on the tree read: "When thou comest near this spot, thou wilt suffer what thou didst to me."
* * * * *
THE DURATION OF LOVE (1831)
Oh! love while Love is left to thee; Oh! love while Love is yet thine own; The hour will come when bitterly Thou'lt mourn by silent graves, alone!
And let thy breast with kindness glow, And gentle thoughts within thee move, While yet a heart, through weal and woe, Beats to thine own in faithful love.
And who to thee his heart doth bare, Take heed thou fondly cherish him; And gladden thou his every hour, And not an hour with sorrow dim!
And guard thy lips and keep them still; Too soon escapes an angry word. "O God! I did not mean it ill!" But yet he sorrowed as he heard.
Oh! love while Love is left to thee; Oh! love while Love is yet thine own; The hour will come when bitterly Thou'lt mourn by silent graves, alone.
Unheard, unheeded then, alas! Kneeling, thou'lt hide thy streaming eyes Amid the long, damp, churchyard grass, Where, cold and low, thy loved one lies,
And murmur: "Oh, look down on me, Mourning my causeless anger still; Forgive my hasty word to thee— O God! I did not mean it ill!"
He hears not now thy voice to bless, In vain thine arms are flung to heaven! And, hushed the loved lip's fond caress, It answers not: "I have forgiven!"
He did forgive—long, long ago! But many a burning tear he shed O'er thine unkindness—softly now! He slumbers with the silent dead.
Oh! love while Love is left to thee; Oh! love while Love is yet thine own; The hour will come when bitterly Thou'lt mourn by silent graves—alone!
* * * * *
THE EMIGRANTS (1832)
I cannot take my eyes away From you, ye busy, bustling band, Your little all to see you lay Each in the waiting boatman's hand.
Ye men, that from your necks set down Your heavy baskets on the earth, Of bread, from German corn baked brown, By German wives, on German hearth.
And you, with braided tresses neat, Black Forest maidens, slim and brown, How careful, on the sloop's green seat, You set your pails and pitchers down.
Ah! oft have home's cool shady tanks Those pails and pitchers filled for you; By far Missouri's silent banks Shall these the scenes of home renew—
The stone-rimmed fount, in village street, Where oft ye stooped to chat and draw— The hearth, and each familiar seat— The pictured tiles your childhood saw.
Soon, in the far and wooded West Shall log-house walls therewith be graced; Soon, many a tired, tawny guest Shall sweet refreshment from them taste.
From them shall drink the Cherokee, Faint with the hot and dusty chase; No more from German vintage, ye Shall bear them home, in leaf-crowned grace.
Oh say, why seek ye other lands? The Neckar's vale hath wine and corn; Full of dark firs the Schwarzwald stands; In Spessart rings the Alp-herd's horn.
Ah, in strange forests you will yearn For the green mountains of your home; To Deutschland's yellow wheat-fields turn; In spirit o'er her vine-hills roam.
How will the form of days grown pale In golden dreams float softly by, Like some old legendary tale, Before fond memory's moistened eye! The boatman calls—go hence in peace! God bless you, wife and child, and sire! Bless all your fields with rich increase, And crown each faithful heart's desire!
* * * * *
THE LION'S RIDE  (1834)
King of deserts reigns the lion; will he through his realm go riding, Down to the lagoon he paces, in the tall sedge there lies hiding. Where gazelles and camelopards drink, he crouches by the shore; Ominous, above the monster, moans the quivering sycamore.
When, at dusk, the ruddy hearth-fires in the Hottentot kraals are glowing, And the motley, changeful signals on the Table Mountain growing Dim and distant—when the Caffre sweeps along the lone karroo— When in the bush the antelope slumbers, and beside the stream the gnu—
Lo! majestically stalking, yonder comes the tall giraffe, Hot with thirst, the gloomy waters of the dull lagoon to quaff; O'er the naked waste behold her, with parched tongue, all panting hasten— Now she sucks the cool draught, kneeling, from the stagnant, slimy basin.
Hark, a rustling in the sedges! with a roar, the lion springs On her back now. What a race-horse! Say, in proudest stalls of kings, Saw one ever richer housings than the courser's motley hide, On whose back the tawny monarch of the beasts tonight will ride?
Fixed his teeth are in the muscles of the nape, with greedy strain; Round the giant courser's withers waves the rider's yellow mane. With a hollow cry of anguish, leaps and flies the tortured steed; See her, how with skin of leopard she combines the camel's speed!
See, with lightly beating footsteps, how she scours the moonlit plains! From their sockets start the eyeballs; from the torn and bleeding veins, Fast the thick, black drops come trickling, o'er the brown and dappled neck, And the flying beast's heart-beatings audible the stillness make.
Like the cloud, that, guiding Israel through the land of Yemen, shone, Like a spirit of the desert, like a phantom, pale and wan, O'er the desert's sandy ocean, like a waterspout at sea, Whirls a yellow, cloudy column, tracking them where'er they flee.
On their track the vulture follows, flapping, croaking, through the air, And the terrible hyena, plunderer of tombs, is there; Follows them the stealthy panther—Cape-town's folds have known him well; Them their monarch's dreadful pathway, blood and sweat full plainly tell.
On his living throne, they, quaking, see their ruler sitting there, With sharp claw the painted cushion of his seat they see him tear. Restless the giraffe must bear him on, till strength and life-blood fail her; Mastered by such daring rider, rearing, plunging, naught avail her.
To the desert's verge she staggers—sinks—one groan—and all is o'er. Now the steed shall feast the rider, dead, and smeared with dust and gore. Far across, o'er Madagascar, faintly now the morning breaks; Thus the king of beasts his journey nightly through his empire makes.
* * * * *
THE SPECTRE-CARAVAN (1835)
'Twas at midnight, in the Desert, where we rested on the ground; There my Bedouins were sleeping, and their steeds were stretched around; In the farness lay the moonlight on the mountains of the Nile, And the camel-bones that strewed the sands for many an arid mile.
With my saddle for a pillow did I prop my weary head, And my caftan-cloth unfolded o'er my limbs was lightly spread, While beside me, both as Captain and as watchman of my band, Lay my Bazra sword and pistols twain a-shimmering on the sand.
And the stillness was unbroken, save at moments by a cry From some stray belated vulture sailing blackly down the sky, Or the snortings of a sleeping steed at waters fancy-seen, Or the hurried warlike mutterings of some dreaming Bedouin.
When, behold!—a sudden sandquake—and atween the earth and moon Rose a mighty Host of Shadows, as from out some dim lagoon; Then our coursers gasped with terror, and a thrill shook every man, And the cry was "Allah Akbar!—'tis the Spectre-Caravan!"
On they came, their hueless faces toward Mecca evermore; On they came, long files of camels, and of women whom they bore; Guides and merchants, youthful maidens, bearing pitchers like Rebecca, And behind them troops of horsemen, dashing, hurrying on to Mecca!
More and more! the phantom-pageant overshadowed all the Plains, Yea, the ghastly camel-bones arose, and grew to camel-trains; And the whirling column-clouds of sand to forms in dusky garbs, Here, afoot as Hadjee pilgrims—there, as warriors on their barbs!
Whence we knew the Night was come when all whom Death had sought and found, Long ago amid the sands whereon their bones yet bleach around, Rise by legions from the darkness of their prisons low and lone, And in dim procession march to kiss the Kaaba's Holy Stone.
More and more! the last in order have not passed across the plain, Ere the first with slackened bridle fast are flying back again. From Cape Verde's palmy summits, even to Bab-el-Mandeb's sands, They have sped ere yet my charger, wildly rearing, breaks his bands!
Courage! hold the plunging horses; each man to his charger's head! Tremble not as timid sheep-flocks tremble at the lion's tread. Fear not, though yon waving mantles fan you as they hasten on; Call on Allah! and the pageant, ere you look again, is gone!
Patience! till the morning breezes wave again your turban's plume; Morning air and rosy dawning are their heralds to the tomb. Once again to dust shall daylight doom these Wand'rers of the night; See, it dawns!—A joyous welcome neigh our horses to the light!
* * * * *
HAD I AT MECCA'S GATE BEEN NOURISHED (1836)
Had I at Mecca's gate been nourished, Or dwelt on Yemen's glowing sand, Or from my youth in Sinai flourished, A sword were now within this hand.
Then would I ride across the mountains Until to Jethro's land I came, And rest my flock beside the fountains Where once the bush broke forth in flame.
And ever with the evening's coolness My kindred to the tent would throng, When verses with impassioned fulness Would stream from me in glowing song.
The treasure of my lips would dower A mighty tribe, a mighty land, And as with a magician's power I'd rule, a monarch, 'mid the sand.
My list'ners are a nomad nation, To whom the desert's voice is dear; Who dread the simoon's devastation And fall before his wrath in fear.
All day they gallop, never idle— Save by the spring—till set of sun; They dash with loosely swaying bridle From Aden unto Lebanon.
At night upon the earth reclining They watch amid their sleeping herds, And read the scroll of heaven, shining With golden-lettered mystic words.
They often hear strange voices mutter From Sinai's earthquake-shattered, height, While desert phantoms rise and flutter In wreaths of smoke before their sight.
See!—through yon fissure deep and dim there The demon's forehead glows amain, For as with me so 'tis with him there— In the skull's cavern seethes the brain.
Oh, land of tents and arrows flying! Oh, desert people brave and wise! Thou Arab on thy steed relying,— A poem in fantastic guise!
Here in the dark I roam so blindly— How cunning is the North, and cold! Oh, for the East, the warm and kindly, To sing and ride, a Bedouin bold!
* * * * *
WILD FLOWERS (1840)
Alone I strode where the broad Rhine flowed, The hedge with roses was covered, And wondrous rare through all the air The scent of the vineyards hovered. The cornflowers blue, the poppies too, Waved in the wheat so proudly! From a cliff near-by the joyous cry Of a falcon echoed loudly.
Then I thought ere long of the old love song: Ah, would that I were a falcon! With its melody as a falcon free, And daring, too, as a falcon. As I sang, thought I: Toward the sun I'll fly, The very tune shall upbear me To her window small with a bolt in the wall, Where I'll beat till she shall hear me.
Where the rose is brave, and curtains wave, And ships by the bank are lying, Two brown eyes dream o'er the lazy stream— Oh, thither would I be flying!
With talons long and strange wild song I'd perch me at her feet then, Or bold I'd spread my wings o'er her head, And gladly we should greet then.
Though I gaily sang and gaily sprang, No pinions had I to aid me; I took my path through the corn in wrath— So restless my love had made me. Then branch and tree all ruthlessly I stripped, nor ceased from my ranting Till with hands all torn and heart forlorn I sank down, weary and panting.
While I heard the sound from all around Of frolicking lads and lasses, Alone for hours I gathered flowers And bound them together with grasses. O crude bouquet, O rude bouquet!— Though many a girl despise it, Yet come there may the happy day When thou, my love, shalt prize it.
In fitting place it well might grace An honest farmer's dwelling These cornflowers mild and poppies wild, With others past my telling; The osier fine, the blossoming vine, The meadow-sweetening clover— All vagrant stuff, and like enough To him, thy vagrant lover.
His dark eye beams, his visage gleams, His clenched hand—how it trembles! His fierce blood burns, his mad heart yearns, His brow the storm resembles.
He breathes oppressed, with laboring breast— His weeds and he rejected! His flowers, oh, see!—shall they and he Lie here at thy door neglected?
* * * * *
THE DEAD TO THE LIVING (July, 1848)
The bullet in the marble breast, the gash upon the brow, You raised us on the bloody planks with wild and wrathful vow! High in the air you lifted us, that every writhe of pain Might be an endless curse to him, at whose word we were slain; That he might see us in the gloom, or in the daylight's shine, Whether he turns his Bible's leaf, or quaffs his foaming wine; That the dread memory on his soul should evermore be burned, A wasting and destroying flame within its gloom inurned; That every mouth with pain convulsed, and every gory wound, Be round him in the terror-hour, when his last bell shall sound; That every sob above us heard smite shuddering on his ear; That each pale hand be clenched to strike, despite his dying fear— Whether his sinking head still wear its mockery of a crown, Or he should lay it, bound, dethroned, on bloody scaffold down!
Thus, with the bullet in the breast, the gash upon the brow, You laid us at the altar's foot, with deep and solemn vow! "Come down!" ye cried—he trembling came—even to our bloody bed; "Uncover!" and 'twas tamely done!—(like a mean puppet led, Sank he whose life had been a farce, with fear unwonted shaken). Meanwhile his army fled the field, which, dying, we had taken! Loudly in "Jesus, thou my trust!" the anthem'd voices peal; Why did the victor-crowds forget the sterner trust of steel?
That morning followed on the night when we together fell, And when ye made our burial, there was triumph in the knell! Though crushed behind the barricades, and scarred in every limb, The pride of conscious Victory lay on our foreheads grim! We thought: the price is dearly paid, but the treasures must be true, And rested calmly in the graves we swore to fill for you!
Alas! for you—we were deceived! Four moons have scarcely run, Since cowardly you've forfeited what we so bravely won! Squandered and cast to every wind the gain our death had brought! Aye, all, we know—each word and deed our spirit-ears have caught! Like waves came thundering every sound of wrong the country through: The foolish war with Denmark! Poland betrayed anew! The vengeance of Vendean men in many a province stern! The calling back of banished troops! The Prince's base return! Wherever barricades were built, the lock on press and tongue! On the free right of all debate, the daily-practised wrong! The groaning clang of prison-doors in North and South afar! For all who plead the People's right, Oppression's ancient bar! The bond with Russia's Cossacks! The slander fierce and loud, Alas! that has become your share, instead of laurels proud— Ye who have borne the hardest brunt, that Freedom might advance, Victorious in defeat and death—June-warriors of France! Yes, wrong and treason everywhere, the Elbe and Rhine beside, And beat, oh German men! your hearts, with calm and sluggish tide? No war within your apron's folds? Out with it, fierce and bold! The second, final war with all who Freedom would withhold! Shout: "The Republic!" till it drowns the chiming minster bells, Whose sound this swindle of your rights by crafty Austria tells!
In vain! 'Tis time your faltering hands should disentomb us yet, And lift us on the planks, begirt with many a bayonet; Not to the palace-court, as then, that he may near us stand— No; to the tent, the market-place, and through the wakening land! Out through the broad land bear us—the dead Insurgents sent, To join, upon our ghastly biers, the German Parliament. Oh solemn sight! there we should lie, the grave-earth on each brow, And faces sunken in decay—the proper Regents now! There we should lie and say to you: "Ere we could waste away, Your Freedom-gift, ye archons brave, is rotting in decay! The Corn is housed which burst the sod, when the March sun on us shone, But before all other harvests was Freedom's March-seed mown! Chance poppies, which the sickle spared, among the stubbles stand; Oh, would that Wrath, the crimson Wrath, thus blossomed in the land!" And yet, it does remain; it springs behind the reaper's track; Too much had been already gained, too much been stolen back; Too much of scorn, too much of shame, heaped daily on your head— Wrath and Revenge must still be left, believe it, from the Dead! It does remain, and it awakes—it shall and must awake! The Revolution, half complete, yet wholly forth will break. It waits the hour to rise in power, like an up-rolling storm, With lifted arms and streaming hair—a wild and mighty form! It grasps the rusted gun once more, and swings the battered blade, While the red banners flap the air from every barricade! Those banners lead the German Guards—the armies of the Free— Till Princes fly their blazing thrones and hasten towards the sea! The boding eagles leave the land—the lion's claws are shorn— The sovereign People, roused and bold, await the Future's morn! Now, till the wakening hour shall strike, we keep our scorn and wrath For you, ye Living! who have dared to falter on your path! Up, and prepare—keep watch in arms! Oh, make the German sod, Above our stiffened forms, all free, and blest by Freedom's God; That this one bitter thought no more disturb us in our graves: "They once were free—they fell—and now, forever they are Slaves!"
* * * * *
HURRAH, GERMANIA! (July 25, 1870)
Hurrah! thou lady proud and fair, Hurrah! Germania mine! What fire is in thine eye, as there Thou bendest o'er the Rhine! How in July's full blaze dost thou Flash forth thy sword, and go, With heart elate and knitted brow, To strike the invader low! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
No thought hadst thou, so calm and light, Of war or battle plain, But on thy broad fields, waving bright, Didst mow the golden grain, With clashing sickles, wreaths of corn, Thy sheaves didst garner in, When, hark! across the Rhine War's horn Breaks through the merry din! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
Down sickle then and wreath of wheat Amidst the corn were cast, And, starting fiercely to thy feet, Thy heart beat loud and fast; Then with a shout I heard thee call: "Well, since you will, you may! Up, up, my children, one and all, On to the Rhine! Away!" Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
From port to port the summons flew, Rang o'er our German wave; The Oder on her harness drew, The Elbe girt on her glaive; Neckar and Weser swell the tide, Main flashes to the sun, Old feuds, old hates are dash'd aside, All German men are one! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
Suabian and Prussian, hand in hand, North, South, one host, one vow! "What is the German's Fatherland?" Who asks that question now? One soul, one arm, one close-knit frame, One will are we today; Hurrah, Germania! thou proud dame, Oh, glorious time, hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
Germania now, let come what may, Will stand unshook through all;
This is our country's festal day; Now woe betide thee, Gaul! Woe worth the hour a robber thrust Thy sword into thy hand! A curse upon him that we must Unsheathe our German brand! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
For home and hearth, for wife and child, For all loved things that we Are bound to keep all undefiled From foreign ruffianry! For German right, for German speech, For German household ways, For German homesteads, all and each, Strike home through battle's blaze! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Germania!
Up, Germans, up, with God! The die Clicks loud—we wait the throw! Oh, who may think without a sigh What blood is doom'd to flow? Yet, look thou up, with fearless heart! Thou must, thou shalt prevail! Great, glorious, free as ne'er thou wert, All hail, Germania, hail! Hurrah! Victoria! Hurrah! Germania!
* * * * *
THE TRUMPET OF 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!
* * * * *
MORITZ GRAF VON STRACHWITZ
DOUGLAS OF THE BLEEDING HEART (1842)
Earl Douglas, don thy helm so bright, And buckle thy sword with speed, Bind on thy sharpest spurs to-night And saddle thy swiftest steed!
"The death watch ticks in the hall of Scone, All Scotland hears its warning, King Robert in pains of death does groan, He'll never see the morning."
For nigh on forty miles they sped And spoke of words not four, And horse and spur with blood were red When they came to the palace door.
King Robert lay at the north tower's turn; With death he'd begun to battle: "I hear the sword of Bannockburn On the stairway clatter and rattle.
"Ha! Welcome in God's name, gallant lord! My end cometh presently, And thou shalt harken my latest word And write down my will for me:
"'Twas on the day of Bannockburn, When Scotland's star rose high, 'Twas on the day of Bannockburn That a vow to God vowed I;
"I vowed that, should He defend my right And give me the victory there, With a thousand lances I'd go to fight For His holy sepulchre.
"I'm perjured, for still my heart doth stand, 'Twas broken with care and strife; The man who would rule o'er the Scottish land May scarce lead a pilgrim's life.
"But thou, when my voice has sunk to rest, When grief and glory depart, Shalt straightway cut from out my breast My battle-o'erwearied heart.
"Then thou shalt wrap the samite red And lock it in yellow gold, And when o'er my bier the mass is said, Let the flag of the cross be unrolled.
"Take a thousand steeds at thy command And a thousand knights also, And carry my heart to the Savior's land That peace my soul may know."
* * * * *
"Make ready, gallants, for the start, Let plume from helmet sway! The Douglas bears the Bruce's heart, And who shall bar his way?
"Now cut the ropes, ye seamen brave And hoist the sail so free! The king must to his dark, dark grave, And we to the dark-blue sea."
Then into the east they sailed away Full ninety days and nine, And at the dawn of the hundredth day They landed in Palestine.
Across the yellow desert they wound As a shining river might flow, The sun it pierced through their helmets' round Like an arrow shot from a bow.
The desert was still, there breathed no gust, All limply the flags were streaming, When up to the sky rose a cloud of dust Whence lightning of spears was gleaming.
The desert was thronged, the din grew loud, The dust was on every side. And thick as rain from each bursting cloud Did the spear-armed Saracens ride.
Ten thousand lances glittered to right, Ten thousand sparkled to left, "Allah il Allah!" they shouted to right, "Il Allah!" they echoed to left.
The Douglas drew his bridle rein, And still stood earl and knight; "By the cross on which our Lord was slain 'Twill be a deadly fight!"
A noble chain his neck embraced In golden windings three. The locket to his lips he placed And kissed it fervently:
"Since thou hast ever gone before, O heart, by night and day, E'en so today do thou once more Precede me in the fray.
"And now may God this boon bestow, As I to thee have been true, That I may strike a Christian blow Against this heathen crew."
He threw his shield o'er his left side, Bound on his helm so proud, And as to battle he did ride, He rose and called aloud:
"Who brings this locket back to me Be his the day's renown!" Then 'mid the paynims mightily He hurled the king's heart down.
Each made the cross with his left thumb, The right hand held the lance, No fear had they though fiends had come To check their bold advance.
A sudden crash, a headlong flight, And mad death raging around— But when the sun sank in the sea's blue light From the desert there came no sound.
For the pride of the east was there laid low In the sweep of the death-strewed plain, And the sand so red in the afterglow Would never be white again.
Of all the heathen, by God's good grace Not one had escaped that harm, Short patience have men of the Scottish race And ever a long sword-arm!
But where had been the fellest strife, There lay in the moonlight clear The good Earl Douglas, reft of life By a hellish heathen spear.
All cleft and rent was the mail he wore, And finished his mortal smart. Yet under his shield he clasped once more King Robert Bruce's heart.
* * * * *
THE STIRRUP-CUP (1840)
The anxious night is gone at last, Silent and mute we gallop past And ride to our destiny. How keen the morning breezes blow! Hostess, one glass more ere we go, We go to die!
Thou soft young grass, why now so green? Soon like the rose shall be thy sheen, My blood thee red shall dye. The first quick sip with sword in hand I drink, a toast to our native land, For our native land to die.
Now for the next, the time is short, The next to Freedom, the queen we court,— The fiery cup drain dry! These dregs—to whom shall we dedicate? To thee, Imperial German State, For the German State to die!
My sweetheart!—But there's no more wine— The bullets whistle, the lance heads shine— To her the glass where the fragments lie! Up! Like a whirlwind into the fray! O horseman's joy, at the break of day, At the break of day to die!
* * * * *
THE WATCHMAN'S SONG (1840)
Wake—awake! The cry rings out; From the high watch-tower comes the shout. Awake, imperial German land— Ye by distant Danube dwelling, And where the infant Rhine is swelling, And where the bleak dunes pile their sand! For hearth and home keep watch, Sword from its scabbard snatch; Every hour For bitter fight Prepare aright— The day of combat is in sight!
Hear in the East the ominous cry That tells a greedy foe draws nigh— The vulture, thirsting for the strife. Hear in the west the serpent's hiss Whose siren-fangs are set for this, To poison all your virtuous life. Near is the vulture's swoop; The serpent coils to stoop For the stroke; Then watch and pray Until the day— Your swords be sharpened for the fray!
Pure in life, in faith as strong, Let no man do your courage wrong; Be one, what time the trump shall sound.
Cleanse your souls by fervent prayer, That so the Lord may find them fair When He shall make His questioning round, The Cross be still your pride, Your banner and your guide In the battle! Who in the field Their fealty yield To God, victorious weapons wield.
Look Thou down from heaven above, Thou Whom the angels praise and love— Be gracious to our German land! Speak from the clouds with thunder-voice; Princes and people of Thy choice, Unite them with a mighty hand. Be Thou our fortress-tower, Bring us through danger's hour. Hallelujah! Thine is today And shall alway Kingdom, and power, and glory stay!
* * * * *
THE CALL OF THE ROAD (1841)
Sweet May it is come, and the trees are in bloom— Who wills may sit listless with sorrow at home! As the clouds go a-roving up there in the sky, So away for a life of adventure am I!
Kind father, dear mother, God be with you now! Who knows what my fortune is waiting to show? There is many a road that I never have gone, There is many a wine that I never have known.
Then up with the sun, and away where it leads, High over the mountains and down through the meads! The brooks they are singing, the trees hear the call; My heart's like a lark and sings out with them all.
And at night, when I come to a cozy old nest, "Mine host, now a bottle—and make it your best! And you, merry fiddler, tune up for a song, A song of my sweetheart—I'll help it along!"
If I come to no inn, then my slumber I'll snatch 'Neath the kindly blue sky, with the stars to keep watch. The trees with their rustling will lull me to sleep; Dawn's kisses will wake me, and up I shall leap.
Then ho! for the road, and the life that I love, And God's pure air to cool your hot brow as you rove. The heart sings for joy in the sun's merry beams— All, wherefore so lovely, wide world of my dreams?
* * * * *
AUTUMN DAYS (1845)
Sunny days of the autumn, Days that shall make me whole, When a balm for wounds that were bleeding Drops silently on the soul!
Now seem the hours to be brooding In still, beneficent rest, And with a quieter motion Heaves now the laboring breast.
To rest from the world's endeavor, To build on the soul's deep base— That is my only craving, In the stillness of love to gaze.
O'er the hills, through the dales I wander, Where the shy sweet streamlets call, Following each clear sunbeam, Whether scorching or kind it fall.
There where the leaves are turning, I harken with reverent ear; All that is growing or dying, Fading or blooming, I hear.
Blissful I learn my lesson— How through the world's wide sweep Matter and spirit together Their concord eternal keep.
What blows in the rustling forest, Takes life from the sun and rain, Is a symbol of truth immortal To the soul that can read it plain.
Each tiniest plant that blossoms With the perfume of its birth Holds in its cup the secret Of the whole mysterious earth.
It looks down from the cliffs in silence, Speaks in the waves' long swell— But all its wonderful meaning The poet alone can tell.
* * * * *
THE DEATH OF TIBERIUS (1856?)
On Cape Misenum shone a palace fair Among the laurels by the summer sea; Long colonnades, and wondrous artistry, And all that should a gorgeous feast prepare. Oft saw it scenes of midnight revelry Where moved soft boys, their brows with ivy crowned, And silver-footed damsels, capering round, The thyrsus swung; with merry shouts of glee And rippling laughter, and the lyre's soft tone, It rang till fell the dew, and night was gone.
Tonight, how still! But here and there is traced A lighted window; in the shadowy space About the doors, slaves throng with awestruck face. Litters draw nigh, and men spring out in haste; And as each comes, a question runs its round Through all the quivering circle of the spies "What says the leech? How goes it?" Hush—no sound! The end is near—the fierce old tiger dies! Up there on purple cushion, in the light Of flickering lamps, pale Caesar waits for morn; His sallow face, by hideous ulcers torn, Looks ghastlier than was e'er its wont tonight; Hollow the eyes; the fire of fell disease And burning fever runs through every limb; None but the aged leech abides with him, And Macro, trusted bearer of the keys.
And now, with stifled cry, by fears oppressed, The sick man feebly throws his coverings off "Let me, O Greek, a cooling potion quaff! Ice—ice! Vesuvius burns within my breast. Gods! how it flames! Yet in my anguished brain The torturing thoughts burn fiercer far, and worse ... A thousand times their tireless strength I curse, Yet cannot find refreshment. 'Tis in vain I cry for Lethe; where the frankincense Sends up its smoke, from all the ancient wars The victims lift their faces, seamed with scars, In grim reproachful gaze to call me hence. Germanicus—Sejanus—Drusus rise ... Who brought you hither? Has the grave no bars? Ah, 'tis past bearing, how with corpse-cold eyes Ye suck the life-blood from me pitilessly! I know I slew you—but it had to be. Was it my fault ye threw the losing dice? Away! Alas—when ends my misery?"
The grave physician held the cup; he drank Its cooling at a draught, then feebly sank Among the pillows, still with wandering eye About the chamber, from his forehead dank Wiping the dews: "They're gone? No more they try To fright me? Ah, perchance 'twas but the mist ... Yet often have they come, by night—in what dread guise None knows but I ... Come, sit thee near me ... hist! And let me tell of dim old memories.
"I too was young once, trusted in my star, Had faith in men; but all the glamour of youth Vanished too soon—and, piercing to the truth, I found some evil each fair show to mar. No thing I saw so high and free from blame But worms were at its heart; each noble deed Revealed self-seeking as its primal seed. Love, honor, virtue—each was but a name! Naught marked us off, vile creatures of the dust, From ravening brutes, save on the smiling face A honeyed falseness—in the heart so base A craven weakness and a fiercer lust. Where was a friend had not his friend betrayed A brother guiltless of a brother's death, A wife that hid no poisoned sting beneath A fond embrace? Of one clay all were made! Thus I became as they. Since only fear Could tame that crew, I bade its form draw near. It was a war I waged; I found a joy Undreamed-of in their death-cries, and in blood Full ankle-deep I waded—victor stood, To find at last that horror too could cloy! Now, grimly bearing what I may not mend, Remorseless, unconsoled, I wait the end."
His dull voice sank to silence. Moaning low, He met new pains: cold sweat stood on his brow. In fearsome change his face the watchers saw Grow like some hideous mask; till Macro came Nearer the throne-like couch, and spoke a name "Shall I thy nephew call—Caligula? Thy sickness waxes—"
Hissed the prince in scorn: "My curse upon thee, viper! What to thee Is Caius? Still I live! And he was born To ape the others—lies, greed, roguery, And aught but manhood. If he had, 'twere vain; No hero now Rome's downfall may restrain. If gods there were, upon this ruined soil No god could bring forth fruit; but that weak lad! Nay, nay, not him—the spirits stern and sad That dog my steps and mock at all my coil, The Furies of the abyss that drive me mad, Them—them and chaos—leave I of my toil The heritage. For them the sceptre!"
So Up leaped he as he was, dire agony Twisting his features, from the window high Tore back the curtain, cast with frenzied throw The wand of empire far into the night— Then, senseless, crumbled.
In the court below A soldier stood at guard—a man of might, Fair-haired and long of limb. Straight to his feet It rolled, the rounded ivory, and upsprang From off the polished marble with a clang
That seemed to say 'twas minded him to greet. He took it up, unknowing what it meant; And soon his thoughts pursued their former bent. Of far-off, sombre German woods he dreamed; He saw the waving tree-tops of the north, He saw the comrades to their tryst go forth. Each word true as their own sharp weapons seemed, As much for friendship as for war their worth. Then thought he of his wife; he saw her sit In all the glory of her golden hair Before their hut, whirling the spindle there Send forth her thoughts across the leagues to flit And reach him here. In that same woodland shrine A merry boy was carving his first spear, His blue eyes flashing boldly in scorn of fear, As though he said—"A sword—the world is mine!" Then swift he saw another vision come Unbidden, hide the pictures of his home, Press on his soul with irresistible might— How once, far in the East, he stood to guard The cross where hung a Man with visage marred— And at His death the sun was plunged in night. Long since, that day had faded in the West; Yet could he ne'er the Sufferer's look forget— The deep abyss of infinite sorrow, and yet The fulness of all blessing it expressed. Now (what could this portend?) to his old home He saw that cross a conquering symbol come; And lo, the assembled tribes of all his race Innumerable moved, and o'er their host On all their banners, as their proudest boast, The same Man's image, a glory round His face ...
Sudden he started; from the halls above Came harsh, quick shouts—the lord of the world was dead! Awe struck the soldier stared where dawn hung red, And saw the Future's mighty curtain move.
* * * * *
[Footnote 1: Permission Macmillan and Co., New York, and George Bell & Sons, Ltd., London.]
[Footnote 2: Or in Goethe:
"Zuschlagen kann die Masse, Da ist sie respektabel; Urteilen gelingt ihr miserabel."]
[Footnote 3: The Dial, Vol. II, No. 1.]
[Footnote 4: Cf. Fanny Tarnow (1835), Z. Funck (1836), and Otto Berdrow, 2d Edition, 1902, p. 338 seq.]
[Footnote 5: This is Rahel's expression, the tribute of admiration forced from the childless woman fresh from the Berlin salons, by the spectacle of Bettina romping with her children in the nursery.]
[Footnote 6: Cf. Herman Grimm, Briefwechsel, 3 Aug. 1881, s. XVII: "For her circle of relatives and friends in the descending line, Bettina has remained a near relative of a higher order."]
[Footnote 7: James Freeman Clarke's estimate of Margaret Fuller and her influence (Memoirs, I, 97) supplies interesting, though not specific confirmation of the point of view here suggested.]
[Footnote 8: In his Aristeia der Mutter. Werke, Weimarer Ausgabe, Bd. 29, ss. 231-238, Goethe acknowledged Bettina's faithfulness and complete credibility for these details. Cf. also Reinhold Steig, Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, Stuttgart, 1894, s. 379.]
[Footnote 9: Translator's Preface to Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe.]
[Footnote 10: According to the investigations of R. Steig, Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano (1894), Bettina was born in the year 1788. Internal evidence is at hand to support this view. Bettina herself stated (Briefwechsel, 538) that she was sixteen when her enthusiasm for Goethe first manifested itself as an elemental force. From another passage we learn that this was three years before her first meeting with the poet in 1807, "in the heyday between childhood and maidenhood." The "Child" of the first letters of the Correspondence was, accordingly, just nineteen. German authorities have accepted 1788 as Bettina's birth-year, but English publications, including the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) still cling to 1785, the old date. Herman Grimm's account of Bettina's interests at threescore (Briefwechsel, XIX, f.) reveals the same preoccupation with Goethe, Shakespeare, and Beethoven. She died in the year 1859.]
[Footnote 11: A mountain range between the Neckar and Main rivers.]
[Footnote 12: The reference is to the Elective Affinities of Goethe, in which Edward, the husband of Charlotte, is obsessed with a passion for the latter's foster-daughter, Ottilie, which results in the death of the two lovers.]
[Footnote 13: Ottilie in Elective Affinities.]
[Footnote 14: From Spaziergaenge eines Wiener Poeten. Translator: Sarah T. Barrows.]
[Footnote 15: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 16: Translator: Kate Freiligrath Kroeker. (From A Century of German Lyrics.)]
[Footnote 17: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 18: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 19: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 20: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 21: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 22: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 23: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 24: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 25: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 26: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 27: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 28: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 29: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 30: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 31: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 32: Invocation to Calliope, Bk. III, Ode IV.]
[Footnote 33: The friend and patron of Haydn, to whose support and interest we owe many works of art.]
[Footnote 34: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 35: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 36: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 37: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 38: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 39: Translator: M.G. in Chambers' Journal. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 40: Translator: C.T. Brooks. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 41: Translator: J.C. Mangan. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 42: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 43: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 44: Translator: Bayard Taylor. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 45: Pall Mall Gazette, London. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 46: Translator: Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 47: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 48: Translator: William G. Howard.]
[Footnote 49: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]
[Footnote 50: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]
[Footnote 51: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman]
[Footnote 52: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]
[Footnote 53: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]