Heine was, to say the least, ill-balanced morally. So was Catullus, so was Burns, so was Byron. But as a lyrist he ranks with the greatest 01 these. Indeed, his art is strongest where that of other German poets tends to be weak.
For them the traditions of ease, simplicity, and melody become snares. Ease may degenerate into slackness, and simplicity into childishness; their sentiment is facile and their thought tenuous.
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The average English drawing-room ballad is a terrible example of the fate which attends those who write for music. The German lyric does not fall to this level, but it does not entirely escape the same faults. Hi s country- men ad composed the Psalms and the Song of omon. No German poet had written with such HebTews N?
Heine used to a great extent the vocabulary of the simplest folk-poetry. He also used with some freedom the old lyric measures, and he has almost beyond any other German poet the qualities of simplicity and melody. To a foreigner his best lyrics are distinctly easier to read than an ordinary German letter and very much easier than an average German newspaper paragraph. His lyrics are the joy of the composer. But with all this he has transmuted the folk-songs into something entirely different something more intense in feeling, more perfect in form.
Da weinten zusammen die Grenadier Wohl ob der klaglichen K unde. Dann reitet mein Kaiser wohl iiber mein Grab V. For there they heard that F ranee was lost. Vanquished for evermore, J Aye, shattered lay the mighty host. Captive the Emperor. The Grenadiers they wept and sighed To hear the tale of mourning, t Alas for me, one soldier cried, Now is my old wound burning.
If they hunger let them beg through life. My Emperor is taken. Lay on my heart the scarlet band, The crow that was my pride ; Place my old musket in my hand, My sabre at my side. There like a sentry will I wait, Within my grave — till once I hear the tramp of horses' feet. The roaring of the guns. My Emperor rides o'er my grave, Swords ring and gleam— —once more 1 rite in arms from out the grave To guard my Emperor.
Johnson said of second marriages, that they arc the triumph of hope over experience. But the temptation is irresistible. Dear child, if thou wilt love me To thee my flowers I bring. And at thy chamber window, The nightingale shall sing. Doch sie, die mich am meisten Gequalt, gcargert, betriibt, Die hat mich nic gehasset Und hat mich nie geliebt.
They plagued me soon and late, Aye, some because they loved me And some in utter hate. But she beyond all other My grief and torment proved. She, who would never hate me, She, who has never loved. Ihre teuren Schwertcr blitzen, Ihrc guten Banner wchn! Ei, du mdchtest wohl, mein Kindchcn, Soichc stolzc Ritter schn?
Nun, 90 ftchau mich an, mein Kindchcn. He who wrought the greatest wonders, Greater still can do. He broke Strongholds of the robber barons Shattering the servile yoke. Mortal wounds forever healing, He renews each ancient right. Men arc equal born before Him, All are noble in His sight. He has banished clouds of sorrow. Every phantom as it gloomed. All that hindered love and gladness. Day and night that held us doomed. Bright their precious swords are gleaming, High their lordly banners wave, Gladly wouldst thou see, my darling, See these glorious knights and brave.
Deutsche Treue, deutsche Hemde, Die verschleisst man in der Fremde. Siehst sehr sterbeblasslich aus, Doch getrost, du bist zu Haus.
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Warm wie an dem Flackerherde Liegt man in der deutschen Erde. German sarks, leal German herts Fare but ill in foreign pairts. Aye, but mony ane fa's lame Never mair can hirple hame, Airms outstretching, maun bemoan him, Cries to God for pity on him. Indeed, in these last sad years his genius developed, and some of his finest poems are in Romancero y published in One example will show with what concision Heine could pare away superfluities till the lyric becomes almost an epigram. Taglich stand der junge Sklave Um die Abendzeit am Springbrunn, Wo die weissen Wasser platschern ; Taglich ward er bleich und bleicher.
And the youthful slave stood daily Toward even at the fountain, Where the waters white were plashing, Daily he grew pale and paler. Die siissen Meergrdnen Augen xwinkern nixenhaft. Her little foot s the surest and the fleetest sne stands a living type of strength and grace I Sweet is her voice, the truest heart revealing Her very soul lies open to my view, Her words arc full of true and tender feel in e Her mouth is like an opening rosebud too. What answer did she give? Poetry, dearly as I have loved it, has always been to me but a divine plaything.
This is his own epitaph : 44 Verlorner Postcn in dem F reiheitskriege, Hicit ich trit dreissig Jahren treulich aus.
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Ich kampftc ohne Hoffnung, dass ich siege, ch wuwtc, nic komm 1 ich gesund nach Haus. Ein Posten ist vakant! T alert I stood s my hand was steady, y rifle loaded and my courage staunch, A fool came near— I had a bullet ready, A nice hot bullet for his ugly paunch.
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Ungarrisoned the post — the sentry dying— Though one may fall, the army presses on. Unvanquished still, I see the colours flying, No weapon broke — broke is my heart alone. There is an absence of great names, but this has been an age of immense and successful activity in the lyric. In the following decade a school of political poets arose. They voiced the desires for representative govern- ment and a united Germany, which w'ere shared by the educated classes.
Their poems bear too ob- viously the mark of their origin. Heine might call himseif a soldier in the army of Freedom, but he felt under no obligation to confine his lyrics to that subject.
Except for a few stirring pieces by Georg Herwcgh , little of real value has been left by the political poets. The Revolution of ended in Germany in a collapse, which could not be dignified by the name of tragedy, and this school had its day. After 1 there was, not unnaturally, a reaction against political poetry.
The younger poets turned to art for their inspiration. Da ich zuerst empfunden, Dass Liebe brechen mag. Mem Fruhling ging zur Ruste, ich weiss es wohl, warum ; Die Lippe, die mich kiisste, 1st worden kuhl und stumm. Mein F riihiing ging xur Riiste, Ich weiss cs wohl, warum. When first I did discover That love could break and die, And lover part from lover, The sun paled in the sky. For me the spring has perished, And wherefore, well I know, And lovely lips I cherished Lie still and cold and low. And wherefore, well I know. Warmed by this vision, I stc from my room into the garden, walked once down the broad path to the arbour at the end, and had invented the poem and almost simultaneously the metre and the first lines, whereupon the execution followed of its own accord.
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Rohtraut, Sch6n-Rohtraut. Tut fischcn und jagen. Fifchcn und Jagen freute mich schr. Einsma ls sic ruhfen am Eichcnbaum, T a lacht Schon-Rohtraut :. And wiiat d. Beauty Rohtraut, I love so tenderly. I 'rider a grrv old oak they sat, Beauty, Beauty Rohtraut. If you have heart cnougn, come kiss me! Down, down!
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