The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: - Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English, Volume 5.
Author: Various
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Huldbrand lay on the deck of the vessel, bathed in hot tears, and a deep swoon presently cast its veil of forgetfulness over the unhappy man.


* * * * *


Crimson morn, Shalt thou light me o'er Death's bourn? Soon will ring the trumpet's call; Then may I be marked to fall, I and many a comrade brave! Scarce enjoyed, Pleasure drops into the void. Yesterday on champing stallion; Picked today for Death's battalion; Couched tomorrow in the grave!

Ah! how soon Fleeth grace and beauty's noon! Hast thou pride in cheeks aglow, Whereon cream and carmine flow? Ah! the loveliest rose turns sere! Therefore still I respond to God's high will. To the last stern fight I'll fit me; If to Death I must submit me, Dies a dauntless cavalier!

* * * * *

THE SENTINEL[48] (1827)

Lonely at night my watch I keep, While all the world is hush'd in sleep. Then tow'rd my home my thoughts will rove; I think upon my distant love.

When to the wars I march'd away, My hat she deck'd with ribbons gay; She fondly press'd me to her heart, And wept to think that we must part.

Truly she loves me, I am sure, So ev'ry hardship I endure; My heart beats warm, though cold's the night; Her image makes the darkness bright.

Now by the twinkling taper's gleam, Her bed she seeks, of me to dream, But ere she sleeps she kneels to pray For one who loves her far away.

For me those tears thou needst not shed; No danger fills my heart with dread; The pow'rs who dwell in heav'n above Are ever watchful o'er thy love.

The bell peals forth from yon watch-tower; The guard it changes at this hour. Sleep well! sleep well! my heart's with thee; And in your dreams remember me.


* * * * *

BARBAROSSA[49] (Between 1814 and 1817)

The ancient Barbarossa, Friedrich, the Kaiser great, Within the castle-cavern Sits in enchanted state.

He did not die; but ever Waits in the chamber deep, Where hidden under the castle He sat himself to sleep.

The splendor of the Empire He took with him away, And back to earth will bring it When dawns the promised day.

The chair is ivory purest Whereof he makes his bed; The table is of marble Whereon he props his head.

His beard, not flax, but burning With fierce and fiery glow, Right through the marble table Beneath his chair does grow.

He nods in dreams and winketh With dull, half-open eyes, And once a page he beckons beckons— A page that standeth by.

He bids the boy in slumber "O dwarf, go up this hour, And see if still the ravens Are flying round the tower;

And if the ancient ravens Still wheel above us here, Then must I sleep enchanted For many a hundred year."

* * * * *

FROM MY CHILDHOOD DAYS[50] (1817, 1818)

From my childhood days, from my childhood days, Rings an old song's plaintive tone— Oh, how long the ways, oh, how long the ways I since have gone!

What the swallow sang, what the swallow sang, In spring or in autumn warm— Do its echoes hang, do its echoes hang About the farm?

"When I went away, when I went away, Full coffers and chests were there; When I came today, when I came today, All, all was bare!"

Childish lips so wise, childish lips so wise, With a lore as rich as gold, Knowing all birds' cries, knowing all birds' cries, Like the sage of old!

Ah, the dear old place—ah, the dear old place * * * May its sweet consoling gleam Shine upon my face, shine upon my face, Once in a dream!

When I went away, when I went away, Full of joy the world lay there; When I came today, when I came today, All, all was bare.

Still the swallows come, still the swallows come, And the empty chest is filled— But this longing dumb, but this longing dumb Shall ne'er be stilled.

Nay, no swallow brings, nay, no swallow brings Thee again where thou wast before— Though the swallow sings, though the swallow sings, Still as of yore.

"When I went away, when I went away, Full coffers and chests were there; When I came today, when I came today, All, all was bare!"

* * * * *


Dearest, thy discourses steal From my bosom's deep, my heart How can I from thee conceal My delight, my sorrow's smart?

Dearest, when I hear thy lyre From its chains my soul is free. To the holy angel quire From the earth, O let us flee!

Dearest, how thy music's charms Waft me dancing through the sky! Let me round thee clasp my arms, Lest in glory I should die!

Dearest, sunny wreaths I wear, Twined around me by thy lay. For thy garlands, rich and rare, O how can I thank thee? Say!

Like the angels I would be Without mortal frame, Whose sweet converse is like thought, Sounding with acclaim;

Or like flowers in the dale; Like the stars that glow, Whose love-song's a beam, whose words Like sweet odors flow;

Or like to the breeze of morn, Waving round its rose, In love's dallying caress Melting as it blows.

But the love-lorn nightingale Melteth not away; She doth but with longing tones Chant her plaintive lay.

I am, too, a nightingale, Songless though I sing; 'Tis my pen that speaks, though ne'er In the ear it ring.

Beaming images of thought Doth the pen portray; But without thy gentle smile Lifeless e'er are they.

As thy look falls on the leaf, It begins to sing, And the prize that's due to love In her ear doth ring.

Like a Memmon's statue now Every letter seems, Which in music wakes, when kissed By the morning's beams.

* * * * *

"HE CAME TO MEET ME"[52] (1821)

He came to meet me In rain and thunder; My heart 'gan beating In timid wonder. Could I guess whither Thenceforth together Our path should run, so long asunder?

He came to meet me In rain and thunder, With guile to cheat me— My heart to plunder. Was't mine he captured? Or his I raptured? Half-way both met, in bliss and wonder!

He came to meet me In rain and thunder; Spring-blessings greet me Spring-blossoms under. What though he leave me? No partings grieve me— No path can lead our hearts asunder.

* * * * * THE INVITATION[53] (1821)

Thou, thou art rest And peace of soul— Thou woundst the breast And makst it whole.

To thee I vow 'Mid joy or pain My heart, where thou Mayst aye remain.

Then enter free, And bar the door To all but thee Forevermore.

All other woes Thy charms shall lull; Of sweet repose This heart be full.

My worshipping eyes Thy presence bright Shall still suffice, Their only light.

* * * * *


Murmur not and say thou art in fetters holden, Murmur not that thou earth's heavy yoke must bear. Say not that a prison is this world so golden— 'Tis thy murmurs only set its harsh walls there.

Question not how shall this riddle find its reading; It will solve itself full soon without thine aid. Say not love hath turned his back, and left thee bleeding— Whom hath love deserted, hast thou heard it said?

If death tries to fright thee, fear not beyond measure; He will flee from those who boldly face his frown. Hunt not thou the fleeting deer of worldly pleasure— Lion it will turn, and hunt the hunter down. Chain thyself no longer, heart, to any treasure; Then thou shalt not say thou art into fetters thrown.

* * * * *

A PARABLE[55] (1822)

In Syria walked a man one day And led a camel on the way. A sudden wildness seized the beast, And as they strove its rage increased. So fearsome grew its savagery That for his life the man must flee. And as he ran, he spied a cave That one last chance of safety gave. He heard the snorting beast behind Come nearer—with distracted mind Leaped where the cooling fountain sprang, Yet not to fall, but catch and hang; By lucky hap a bramble wild Grew where the o'erhanging rocks were piled. He saved himself by this alone, And did his hapless state bemoan. He looked above, and there was yet Too close the furious camel's threat That still of fearful rage was full. He dropped his eyes toward the pool, And saw within the shadows dim A dragon's jaws agape for him— A still more fierce and dangerous foe If he should slip and fall below. So, hanging midway of the two, He spied a cause of terror new: Where to the rock's deep crevice clung The slender root on which he swung, A little pair of mice he spied, A black and white one side by side— First one and then the other saw The slender stem alternate gnaw. They gnawed and bit with ceaseless toil, And from the roots they tossed the soil. As down it ran in trickling stream, The dragon's eyes shot forth a gleam Of hungry expectation, gazed Where o'er him still the man was raised, To see how soon the bush would fall, The burden that it bore, and all. That man in utmost fear and dread Surrounded, threatened, hard bested, In such a state of dire suspense Looked vainly round for some defense. And as he cast his bloodshot eye First here, then there, saw hanging nigh A branch with berries ripe and red; Then longing mastered all his dread; No more the camel's rage he saw, Nor yet the lurking dragon's maw, Nor malice of the gnawing mice, When once the berries caught his eyes. The furious beast might rage above, The dragon watch his every move, The mice gnaw on—naught heeded he, But seized the berries greedily— In pleasing of his appetite The furious beast forgotten quite.

You ask, "What man could ever yet, So foolish, all his fears forget?" Then know, my friend, that man are you— And see the meaning plain to view. The dragon in the pool beneath Sets forth the yawning jaws of death; The beast from which you helpless flee Is life and all its misery. There you must hang 'twixt life and death While in this world you draw your breath. The mice, whose pitiless gnawing teeth Will let you to the pool beneath Fall down, a hopeless castaway, Are but the change of night and day. The black one gnaws concealed from sight Till comes again the morning light; From dawn until the eve is gray, Ceaseless the white one gnaws away. And, 'midst this dreadful choice of ills, Pleasure of sense your spirit fills Till you forget the terrors grim That wait to tear you limb from limb, The gnawing mice of day and night, And pay no heed to aught in sight Except to fill your mouth with fruit That in the grave-clefts has its root.

* * * * *

EVENING SONG[56] (1823)

I stood on the mountain summit, At the hour when the sun did set; I mark'd how it hung o'er the woodland The evening's golden net.

And, with the dew descending, A peace on the earth there fell— And nature lay hushed in quiet, At the voice of the evening bell.

I said, "O heart, consider What silence all things keep, And with each child of the meadow Prepare thyself to sleep!

"For every flower is closing In silence its little eye; And every wave in the brooklet More softly murmureth by.

"The weary caterpillar Hath nestled beneath the weeds; All wet with dew now slumbers The dragon-fly in the reeds.

"The golden beetle hath laid him In a rose-leaf cradle to rock; Now went to their nightly shelter The shepherd and his flock.

"The lark from on high is seeking In the moistened grass her nest; The hart and the hind have laid them In their woodland haunt to rest.

"And whoso owneth a cottage To slumber hath laid him down; And he that roams among strangers In dreams shall behold his own."

And now doth a yearning seize me, At this hour of peace and love, That I cannot reach the dwelling, The home that is mine, above.

* * * * *

CHIDHER[57] (1824)

Chidher, the ever youthful, told: I passed a city, bright to see; A man was culling fruits of gold, I asked him how old this town might be. He answered, culling as before "This town stood ever in days of yore, And will stand on forevermore!" Five hundred years from yonder day I passed again the selfsame way,

And of the town I found no trace; A shepherd blew on a reed instead; His herd was grazing on the place. "How long," I asked, "is the city dead?" He answered, blowing as before "The new crop grows the old one o'er, This was my pasture evermore!" Five hundred years from yonder day I passed again the selfsame way.

A sea I found, the tide was full, A sailor emptied nets with cheer; And when he rested from his pull, I asked how long that sea was here. Then laughed he with a hearty roar "As long as waves have washed this shore They fished here ever in days of yore." Five hundred years from yonder day I passed again the selfsame way.

I found a forest settlement, And o'er his axe, a tree to fell, I saw a man in labor bent. How old this wood I bade him tell. "'Tis everlasting, long before I lived it stood in days of yore," He quoth; "and shall grow evermore." Five hundred years from yonder day I passed again the selfsame way.

I saw a town; the market-square Was swarming with a noisy throng. "How long," I asked, "has this town been there? Where are wood and sea and shepherd's song?" They cried, nor heard among the roar "This town was ever so before, And so will live forevermore!" "Five hundred years from yonder day I want to pass the selfsame way."

* * * * *

AT FORTY YEARS[58] (1832)

When for forty years we've climbed the rugged mountain, We stop and backward gaze; Yonder still we see our childhood's peaceful fountain, And youth exulting strays.

One more glance behind, and then, new strength acquiring, Staff grasped, no longer stay; See, a further slope, a long one, still aspiring Ere downward turns the way!

Take a brave long breath and toward the summit hie thee— The goal shall draw thee on; When thou think'st it least, the destined end is nigh thee— Sudden, the journey's done!

* * * * *


I went to knock at Riches' door; They threw me a farthing the threshold o'er.

To the door of Love did I then repair— But fifteen others already were there.

To Honor's castle I took my flight— They opened to none but to belted knight.

The house of Labor I sought to win— But I heard a wailing sound within.

To the house of Content I sought the way— But none could tell me where it lay.

One quiet house I yet could name, Where last of all, I'll admittance claim;

Many the guests that have knocked before, But still—in the grave—there's room for more.


* * * * *


'Tis night, and tempests whistle o'er the moor; Oh, Spanish father, ope the door! Deny me not the little boon I crave, Thine order's vesture, and a grave! Grant me a cell within thy convent-shrine— Half of this world, and more, was mine; The head that to the tonsure now stoops down Was circled once by many a crown; The shoulders fretted now with shirt of hair Did once the imperial ermine wear. Now am I as the dead, e'er death is come, And sink in ruins like old Rome.

* * * * *


On Busento's grassy banks a muffled chorus echoes nightly, While the swirling eddies answer and the wavelets ripple lightly.

Up and down the river, shades of Gothic warriors watch are keeping, For they mourn their people's hero, Alaric, with sobs of weeping.

All too soon and far from home and kindred here to rest they laid him, While in youthful beauty still his flowing golden curls arrayed him.

And along the river's bank a thousand hands with eager striving Labored long, another channel for Busento's tide contriving.

Then a cavern deep they hollowed in the river-bed depleted, Placed therein the dead king, clad in proof, upon his charger seated.

O'er him and his proud array the earth they filled, and covered loosely, So that on their hero's grave the water-plants would grow profusely.

And again the course they altered of Busento's waters troubled; In its ancient channel rushed the current—foamed, and hissed, and bubbled.

And the Goths in chorus chanted: "Hero, sleep! Tiny fame immortal Roman greed shall ne'er insult, nor break thy tomb's most sacred portal!"

Thus they sang, and paeans sounded high above the fight's commotion; Onward roll, Busento's waves, and bear them to the farthest ocean!

* * * * *

REMORSE[62] (1820)

How I started up in the night, in the night, Drawn on without rest or reprieval! The streets with their watchmen were lost to my sight, As I wandered so light In the night, in the night, Through the gate with the arch medieval.

The mill-brook rushed from its rocky height; I leaned o'er the bridge in my yearning; Deep under me watched I the waves in their flight, As they glided so light In the night, in the night, Yet backward not one was returning.

O'erhead were revolving, so countless and bright, The stars in melodious existence; And with them the moon, more serenely bedight; They sparkled so light In the night, in the night, Through the magical, measureless distance.

And upward I gazed in the night, in the night, And again on the waves in their fleeting; Ah woe! thou hast wasted thy days in delight; Now silence, thou light, In the night, in the night, The remorse in thy heart that is beating.

* * * * *


Would I were free as are my dreams, Sequestered from the garish crowd To glide by banks of quiet streams Cooled by the shadow-drifting cloud!

Free to shake off this weary weight Of human sin, and rest instead On nature's heart inviolate— All summer singing o'er my head!

There would I never disembark, Nay, only graze the flowery shore To pluck a rose beneath the lark, Then go my liquid way once more,

And watch, far off, the drowsy lines Of herded cattle crop and pass, The vintagers among the vines, The mowers in the dewy grass;

And nothing would I drink or eat Save heaven's clear sunlight and the spring Of earth's own welling waters sweet, That never make the pulses sting.

* * * * *

SONNET[64] (1822)

Oh, he whose pain means life, whose life means pain, May feel again what I have felt before; Who has beheld his bliss above him soar And, when he sought it, fly away again; Who in a labyrinth has tried in vain, When he has lost his way, to find a door; Whom love has singled out for nothing more Than with despondency his soul to bane; Who begs each lightning for a deadly stroke, Each stream to drown the heart that cannot heal From all the cruel stabs by which it broke; Who does begrudge the dead their beds like steel Where they are safe from love's beguiling yoke— He knows me quite, and feels what I must feel.


[Footnote 1: From Addresses on Religion (Discourse IV).]

[Footnote 2: This refers to the second book, which takes the form of a dialogue between the inquirer and a Spirit.]

[Footnote 3: An allusion to the second book.]

[Footnote 4: The audience gathered in the building of the Royal Academy at Berlin.—ED.]

[Footnote 5: J.G. Hamann. Hellenistische Briefe I, 189.]

[Footnote 6: Goethe. Werke (1840) xxx., 352. Mr. Ward's translation of Goethe's "Essays on Art," p. 76.]

[Footnote 7: Selections translated by Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 8: Permission George Bell & Son, London.]

[Footnote 9: Translator: H.W. Dulcken. Permission Ward, Lock & Company, Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 10: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 11: Translator: C.T. Brooks.]

[Footnote 12: Translator: Herman Montagu Donner.]

[Footnote 13: Translator: C.T. Brooks.]

[Footnote 14: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 15: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 16: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 17: Translator: C.T. Brooks.]

[Footnote 18: Translator: W.W. Skeat.]

[Footnote 19: Translator: Henry W. Longfellow.]

[Footnote 20: Translator: C.T. Brooks.]

[Footnote 21: Translator: Percy Mackaye.]

[Footnote 22: Translator: Alfred Baskerville.]

[Footnote 23: Translator: W.W. Skeat. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 24: Translator: W.W. Skeat. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 25: Translator: H.W. Dulcken. Permission Ward, Lock & Company, Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 26: Translator: W.H. Furness.]

[Footnote 27: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg]

[Footnote 28: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 29: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 30: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 31: Translator: C.T. Brooks.]

[Footnote 32: Translator: W.H. Furness.]

[Footnote 33: Translator: Henry W. Longfellow. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 34: Translator: Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker. Permission William Heinemann, London.]

[Footnote 35: Translator: C.G. Leland. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 36: Translator: Alfred Baskerville.]

[Footnote 37: Translator: Alfred Baskerville.]

[Footnote 38: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman]

[Footnote 39: Translator: Alfred Baskerville]

[Footnote 40: Translators: Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani. From A Sheaf of Poems, permission R.G. Badger, Boston.]

[Footnote 41: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 42: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 43: From the Foreign Quarterly]

[Footnote 44: Chapters 2, 6, 8.]

[Footnote 45: An imaginary musical enthusiast of whom Hoffmann has written much; under the fiery, sensitive, wayward character of this crazy bandmaster, presenting, it would seem, a shadowy likeness of himself. The Kreisleriana occupy a large space among these Fantasy-pieces; and Johannes Kreisler is the main figure in Kater Murr, Hoffmann's favorite but unfinished work. In the third and last volume, Kreisler was to end, not in composure and illumination, as the critics would have required, but in utter madness: a sketch of a wild, flail-like scarecrow, dancing vehemently and blowing soap-bubbles, and which had been intended to front the last title-page, was found among Hoffmann's papers, and engraved and published in his Life and Remains.]

[Footnote 46: Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]

[Footnote 47: Translator: Herman Montagu Donner.]

[Footnote 48: Translator: John Oxenford. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 49: Translators: Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani.

From A Sheaf of Poems, permission R.G. Badger, Boston.]

[Footnote 50: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.

This is a working-over of an old popular song in imitation of the swallow's cry, found in various dialect-forms in different parts of Germany. The most widespread version is:

Wenn ich wegzieh', wenn ich wegzieh', Sind Kisten and Kasten voll!' Wann ich wiederkomm', wann ich wiederkomm', Ist alles verzehrt.]

[Footnote 51: Translator: Alfred Baskerville.]

[Footnote 52: Translator: Bayard Taylor. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 53: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 54: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 55: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 56: Translator: H.W. Dulcken. From Book of German Songs, permission Ward, Lock & Company, Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 57: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]

[Footnote 58: Translator: A.I. du P. Coleman.]

[Footnote 59: Translator: H.W. Dulcken. Permission Ward, Lock & Company, Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 60: Translator: Lord Lindsay. From Ballads, Songs and Poems.]

[Footnote 61: Translators: Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani. From A Sheaf of Poems, permission R.G. Badger, Boston.]

[Footnote 62: Translator: Henry W. Longfellow. From Representative German Poems, Henry Holt & Co., New York.]

[Footnote 63: Translator: Percy MacKaye.]

[Footnote 64: Translator: Margarete Muensterberg.]


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