Part 11 out of 11
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!
[Illustration: GEORG HERWEGH]
* * * * *
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;
For bitter fight
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.
Thine is today
And shall alway
Kingdom, and power, and glory stay!
* * * * *
[Illustration: E. HADER EMANUEL GEIBEL]
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.
* * * * *
[Illustration: LUDWIG RICHTER JOURNEYING]
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!"
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
[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
[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,
[Footnote 41: Translator: J.C. Mangan. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz,
[Footnote 42: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 43: Translator: Charles Wharton Stork.]
[Footnote 44: Translator: Bayard Taylor. Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz,
[Footnote 45: _Pall Mall Gazette_, London. Permission Bernhard
[Footnote 46: Translator: Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker. Permission Bernhard
[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.]