A Book Of German Lyrics
Part 3 out of 6
Hinten der Groom mit wichtigen Mienen,
An den Raedern Gebell.
In den Doerfern windstillen Lebens Genuege, 5
Auf den Feldern fleissige Spaten und Pfluege,
Alles das von der Sonne beschienen
So hell, so hell.
* * * * *
138. SCHOENE JUNITAGE
Mitternacht, die Gaerten lauschen,
Fluesterwort und Liebeskuss,
Bis der letzte Klang verklungen,
Weil nun alles schlafen muss--
Flussueberwaerts singt eine Nachtigall. 5
Der auf Baum und Beeten ruht--
Flussueberwaerts singt eine Nachtigall. 10
Strassentreiben, fern, verworren,
Reicher Mann und Bettelkind,
Tausendfaeltig Leben rinnt---
Flussueberwaerts singt eine Nachtigall. 15
Langsam graut der Abend nieder,
Milde wird die harte Welt,
Und das Herz macht seinen Frieden,
Und zum Kinde wird der Held---
Flussueberwaerts singt eine Nachtigall. 20
A WORD TO THE READER
Verse must be read aloud. Rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, assonance, vowel
coloring, the effect of enjambement, to name only the more obvious
phenomena, appeal solely to the ear. Looking at a page of verse is like
looking at a page of music. Unless the symbols are translated into sound
values, the effect is blank. A skilled musician is able to translate the
printed notes to the inner sense, but even he will prefer to hear the
music and will always consider this the final test. Thus it is also with
verse: it must be read aloud. Lyric verse is best read in privacy or in a
small congenial group. When the humdrum noise and the humdrum cares of
the world have vanished, then the moment has come when one may steep
one's soul in lyric beauty. One never tires of a really great lyric: like
a true friend, a longer acquaintance adds only new delight.
And why read lyric poetry at all? Some people ask that question, and for
them the case may be hopeless. If the lyric sense is utterly lacking,
then it is their sad lot to live in the desert of the practical world.
Art is not for them: neither music nor poetry nor painting nor sculpture
nor architecture; for something of the lyric impulse lives in all of
these. But many ask that question who some day will see, and for them I
must attempt a brief answer. All literature is an interpretation of life,
and the better one understands life the better one understands
literature, and vice versa. Lyric poetry is the most direct
interpretation of life, because here the poet reveals his innermost self
directly. We strive to enrich our intellectual power by reliving the
thought of Plato and of Kant. Why not enrich our emotional life and our
whole being by reliving the world of Goethe or Shelley? The poets have
lived for us, and the pure essence of their life we can make our own in
their lyric verse.
* * * * *
ELEMENTS OF VERSIFICATION
RHYTHM.-- While in Greek and Latin it depends on quantity, i.e., length
of the syllables, in German as in English it depends on stress, that is,
accent. The smallest rhythmical unit is called a foot and corresponds to
a measure in music with the exception that the accent need not be on the
first syllable. A verse consists of two or more feet (verses with only a
single foot are rare) and may end either with an accented syllable
(masculine ending) or with an unaccented (feminine ending). Especially
within longer verses there often occurs a slight rest or break, called
caesura. Designating the accented syllable by -- and the unaccented by X,
the more common feet with their Graeco-Roman names may be represented
Iambic, X --
Trochee, -- X
Dactyl, -- XX
Anapaest, XX --.
This terminology is, however, of little avail in the German _Volkslied_,
that is the simple folksong, and in that large body of German verse which
is patterned after it. Here the basic principle is the number of accented
syllables. The number of unaccented syllables varies. A measure (i.e., a
foot) may have either one or two unaccented syllables, in the real
Volkslied often three. (A measure without an unaccented syllable, so
common in older verse, is but rarely met with to-day; see 84, 7.)
Goethe's more popular ballads as _Erlkoenig_ or _der Koenig in Thule_ offer
good examples of this freer technique. Above all, however, Heine made use
of this principle, while Platen, whom later German verse tends to follow
in this respect (e.g., Meyer and Liliencron), espoused the strict classic
 Exceptions are only apparent, as in 68, 7. Platen followed the
rules of Graeco-Roman prosody, where a long syllable could be
substituted for two short syllables.
RHYME.--When two or more words correspond from their accented vowel on,
they are said to rhyme: _Pferde--Erde_. The rhyming syllable must carry
at least a secondary accent: _Heiligkeit--Zeit_. Rhymes of one syllable
are called masculine, of two syllables feminine. According to their
degree of perfection rhymes are classified as pure and impure. Thus
_geboren--geschworen_, _bestellt--Welt_ are pure, _gesehn--schoen_,
_gerissen--Fuessen_, _Lied--Gemuet_, _sprach--Gemach_, _Wiesen--fliessen_
are impure. Impure rhymes are not of necessity poor, but may be used to
enhance the musical effects of a poem. Heine was a master in this
respect. The modern school, however, tends to avoid impure rhymes.
Rhymes within a verse are called internal rhymes.
ALLITERATION--two or more accented syllables beginning with the same
consonant or with a vowel: _Von weissen Wolken umwogt_, 59, 2--is used to
enhance the rhythmic-melodic character of a poem, as is also
assonance--the agreement of vowels in two or more accented syllables, 36.
Often assonance is practically a form of impure rhyme,
_Grunde--verschwunden_, 41, _Himmel--Schimmer_, 44.
STANZA--a union of two or more verses. In a stanza itself the individual
verses may either stand apart or two or more verses may form larger
units. Thus the structure of the various stanzas may be made to
differentiate and the rhythmic-melodic character of the poem be thereby
modified (44 and 56 and notes). Similarly, stanzas may form larger units
(2). If the end of a verse breaks into a syntactic unit, we have what is
called an enjambement. This tends to put a special stress on the last
word. Notice for example the onomatopoetic effect in 13, 7 and 8:
Aus dem bewegten Wasser rauscht
Ein feuchtes Weib hervor.
REFRAIN.--This is a repetition of one or more verses, either exactly
repeated or slightly modified, at the end of a stanza or less frequently
at another fixed place (4, 10, 34). Aside from its rhythmic-melodic
effect the refrain helps to center the attention on a certain idea or
STANZA AND VERSE FORMS.--Only a few need any special discussion.
1. _Blank Verse_. This is the verse of Shakspere and was introduced into
Germany from England. It is an unrhymed iambic verse of five feet (19).
2. _Freie Rhythmen_. An unrhymed verse that does not follow any fixed
form; the rhythm may vary even within the verse. The number of accented
syllables usually does not exceed four (15, 16 and 59).
3. _The Rhymed Couplet_ (_vierhebige Reimpaare_) was introduced from the
_Volkslied_. The verse ending is always masculine. Best adapted to a
rapidly progressing action, every stanza marks a forward step, portrays a
new scene (28, 29, 74).
4. _The Sonnet_, an Italian verse form, is composed of fourteen iambic
lines of five feet each. The rhyme for the first eight lines, called the
octave, is always _abbaabba_; for the last six, called the sestette, the
rhyme may be _cdcdcd_, _ccdccd_, or _cdecde_ (69 and 77).
5. _The Siziliane_, likewise Italian, consists of eight iambic lines of
five feet each, the rhyme being _abababab_ (135 and 136).
6. _The Modified Nibelungen Stanza_, an adaptation of the stanza of the
Nibelungenlied introduced by Uhland, is a stanza of four verses rhyming
in couplets; each verse has six accented syllables with a fixed pause as
indicated below in the scansion of the first two lines of 32:
X -- X -- X -- X || X -- X -- X--
X -- X -- XX -- X || X -- X -- X --
Each line is in reality composed of two verses and thus we have here the
form so commonly used by Heine (48, 49, 50, 51, 52 and others). Each
verse has in reality four measures, the last measure being taken up by a
Es stand in al ten Zei ten | | ein Schloss so hoch und hehr.
X -- X -- X -- X * X -- X -- X -- **
In music these pauses may be taken up in whole or in part by lengthening
the preceding notes (to some extent this holds true in reading, adding to
the effect of the enjambement). _Die Lorelei_ offers a good example:
[Musical notation in original for following lyric. Transcriber.]
Ich weiss nicht, was soll es bedeuten, dass
ich so traurig bin; ein Maerchen aus alten
Zeiten, das kommt mir nicht aus bem Sinn. Die
Luft ist kuehl und es dunkelt, und ruhig fliesst der Rhein; der
Gipfel des Berges funkelt im Abendsonnenschein.
* * * * *
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the world's greatest lyric genius, was born
August 28, 1749, in Frankfurt am Main. In his being there were happily
blended his mother's joyous fancy and the sterner traits of his father.
Thus a rich imagination, a wealth of feeling, and the power of poetic
expression went hand in hand with an indomitable will. In the spring of
1770 the young poet went to Strassburg to complete his law course. There
Herder happened to be, even then a famed critic and scholar, and he
aroused in Goethe a love and understanding of what was really great and
genuine in literature: especially Homer, the Bible, Shakspere, and the
_Volkslied_ i.e., the simple folksong. In the fall of the year Goethe met
Friederike Brion in the parsonage at Sesenheim, a village near
Strassburg. Now Herder's teaching bore fruit in an outburst of real song
(1, 2 and 4). The influence of the _Volkslied_ is clearly discernible in
the unaffected naturalness, spontaneity, and simplicity of these lyrics.
Thus _das Heidenroeslein_, which symbolizes the tragic close of the sweet
idyll of Sesenheim, is to all intents and purposes a _Volkslied_.
The following years, spent for the most part in Frankfurt, were the
period of _Sturm und Drang_ (Storm and Stress) in the poet's life and
work. His love for Lili Schoenemann, a rich banker's daughter and society
belle of Frankfurt, only heightened this unrest (3). In the fall of 1775
the young duke Karl August called Goethe to Weimar. Under the influence
of Frau von Stein, a woman of rare culture, Goethe developed to calm
maturity. Compare the first _Wanderers Nachtlied_ (written February
1776), a passionate prayer for peace, and the; second (written September
1780), the embodiment of that peace attained. Even more important in this
development is the fact that Goethe, in assuming his many official
positions in the little dukedom, entered voluntarily a circle of everyday
duties (7 and 8). Thus the heaven-storming Titan, as Goethe reveals
himself in his _Prometheus_, learns to respect and revere the natural
limitations of mortality (15 and especially 16).
As Goethe matured, his affinity for classic antiquity became more marked,
and a consuming desire impelled him to spend two years in Italy
(1786-1788). The rest of his years Goethe spent in Weimar, his life
enriched above all else by his friendship with Schiller. In this second
Weimar period Goethe reached the acme of his powers. Even his declining
years, although marked by loneliness and bringing him a full measure of
grief (his wife, Christiane Vulpius, whom he had met shortly after his
return from Italy, died in 1816, followed in 1830 by his only son),
exemplified that earnest striving so characteristic of Goethe. A serene
optimism, a deep love of life, was his to the very last. To this _das
Lied des Tuermers_, written May 1831, bears eloquent witness. A ripe
mellowness seems to blend here with the joyous spirit of youth. Goethe
died March 22, 1832.
1. A visit to Sesenheim is the experience that called forth this poem.
(Compare Goethe's first letter to Friederike, October 15, 1770) Notice
how all nature is personified and assumes human attributes. In the
opening stanzas impetuous haste is stirring, the first two lines have a
marked rising rhythm. Notice the quieting effect of the metrical
inversion at the beginning of 17, 18, and 19 and of the break in 25 after
ach and how the whole poem ends with a note of deep joy.
15, 16. WELCHES, WELCHE = _what_.
21. ROSENFARBNES FRUEHLINGSWETTER, _the roseate hues of spring-time._
29. ERDEN, old dative singular.
2. Notice that the second and third stanzas are joined as also the last
three. The exuberant fullness of joy creates its own form and overleaps
the confines of a single stanza.
3. Written June 1775 in Switzerland on Lake Zuerich. Goethe had gone there
to escape the unrest into which his love for Lili Schoenemann had thrown
him. The poem opens with a shout of exultation, 1 and 2; note the
inversion -- XX -- X -- _Saug' ich aus freier Welt_. The rising rhythm of
the following lines clearly depicts the movement of rapid rowing. Stanza
2 changes to a falling rhythm; as pictures of the past rise up, the
rowing ceases. Stanza 3 depicts a more quiet forward movement; notice the
effect of the dactyls in the even lines.
15. TRINKEN, metaphorically for _envelop, cause to disappear._
4. The refrain, so common in the _Volkslied_ does not only enhance the
melody of the poem, but centers the entire attention on das Roeslein and
retards the quick dramatic movement of the narrative, which latter is
heightened by the omission of the article and the frequent inversion of
2. HEIDEN, old dative.
3. MORGENSCHOEN, the rose has all the fresh pure beauty of the early
18. WEH UND ACH, _cry of pain, piteous outcry._
5. For this and the following poem compare Longfellow's translation.
6. EIN GLEICHES, i.e., another _Wanderers Nachtlied_. This poem has been
justly called _die Krone aller Lyrik_, _the acme of all lyric poetry_,
because of its simple, perfect beauty.
8. ERINNERUNG, _reminder_.
9. Written in 1813 in memory of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day
when the poet had first met Christiane Vulpius. Its never failing charm
lies in its utter simplicity, its _Selbstverstaendigkeit_, and in this one
respect it may well be compared to Wordsworth's Lucy ("She dwelt among
the untrodden ways").
1 and 2. FUER SICH (i.e., _vor sich_) HINGEHEN, _to saunter along, to
walk along without any special purpose._
10. Mignon, a fascinating character in Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister, a
strange premature child, expresses in this song her longing for her
Italian land. In succinct pictures there arise before us her native land,
her ancestral home and the way thither. The very soul of this poem is
longing, culminating with ever increasing intensity in the refrain. Note
the vivid concreteness of the verbs and the noble simplicity of the
adjectives; the vowels, especially in 2.
13. WOLKENSTEG, _bridge that hangs on clouds_ (Carlyle).
16. STUERZT, _plunges down_, i.e., descends precipitously.
11. The _Harfenspieler_ has, without knowing it, married his own sister.
Mignon is the child of this union. In this song he pours forth his
despair and the torments of his conscience.
12. Thule is a mythical land of the far North.
3. STERBEND modifies _Buhle_.
7. _his eyes overflowed with tears._
8. SO OFT, _as often as._
12. ZUGLEICH, i.e., with his other possessions.
15. AUF, translate _in_. Why _auf_?
21, 22. Note the descriptive effect of the enjambement together with
the internal rhyme.
23. _His eyes closed_ (in death), TAETEN SINKEN = _sanken_. _Taeten_ is
an older preterite indicative.
13. The poem embodies the lure of the water. This motif is clearly
expressed in 1 and is repeated in 25. In 9, 13, 29 and 31 metrically the
same motif recurs. Compare 9 and 29: the speech becomes song and the lure
of the nymph's song draws the fisherman down.
4. _cool to his very heart_.
6. _The flood swells up and divides_ (as the body emerges from it).
Note effect of the inversion -- XX -- X --.
13. FISCHLEIN, dative. MIR IST = _I feel_.
16. ERST, _now for the first time_.
19. WELLENATMEND. The word pictures graphically the rise and fall of
the sun's image in the waves.
20. DOPPELT SCHOENER = _doppelt schoen_.
22. DAS FEUCHTVERKLAERTE BLAU, _The azure of the sky transfigured in
30. _Then he was doomed_. Compare the expression: "he is done for."
14. ERLKOENIG is a corruption of _Elbkoenig_, i.e., the king of the elves.
Notice the difference in the speeches of the three characters: the calm
assuaging tone of the father, whose senses seem dead to the supernatural;
the luring song of the Erlkoenig, that changes abruptly to an impetuous
demand; the ever increasing terror of the child till its fear is imparted
to the father. The child's speech is driven relentlessly forward by
terror; notice the effect of the inversion in 22 and 28: -- XX --, etc.
19. FUEHREN DEN NAECHTLICHEN REIHN, _dance the nightly round_.
20. _and rock thee and dance thee and sing thee to sleep_.
28. _Erlking has done me grievous woe_.
15. Suggested by the Staubbach, a cascade near Lauterbrunnen in
Switzerland (October 1779). The poem compares human life in its various
aspects to a stream. Notice in this connection how the rhythm varies from
stanza to stanza.
12. WOLKENWELLEN, _cloudlike waves_.
24. HIN, _along_.
26. WEIDEN, _let graze or feast_, i.e., mirror.
30. MISCHT VOM GRUND AUS, _stirs from the very bottom._
16. Willing surrender, contented submission to the will of the Highest is
the keynote of this poem.
9. _childlike thrills of awe._
40, 41. IHRES DASEINS. _Ihres_ refers to _Geschlechter_. To make it
refer to _Goetter_ (and adopting the variant reading _sie_ [i.e.,
_Goetter_] instead of _sich_) makes an impossible metaphor, since the
picture of a chain with its links cannot describe the eternal and
changeless life of the gods, but only human life, generation
following generation as link on link in a chain. Compare 31, where
Goethe has used _Wellen_ with the same purport.
17. Although a part of _Faust_, this poem is none the less a confession
of Goethe himself. Over eighty years old, the poet surveys life as a
watchman from his high tower, lets his gaze once more wander over the
world, when evening comes, and lo, all is good.
11, 12. _And as all things have pleased me, I am pleased with
myself_, i.e., the sum total of my life is good.
Friedrich Schiller was born in Marbach, Wuerttemberg, November 10, 1759.
His short life was one great heroic struggle. His first inclination was
to study for the ministry, but the rigorous and arbitrary discipline of
the Duke Karl Eugen, whose school the boy as the son of an officer had to
enter, considered neither aptitude nor desire, and thus Schiller had to
study medicine and become an army surgeon. That he might shape his own
destiny he fled from Wuerttemberg in 1782. The following years, in which
Schiller gradually gained the recognition he deserved, were a bitter
battle against poverty; and when in 1789 he had been made professor of
history in Jena, only two years passed before illness forced him to
resign. At that moment generous friends came to his aid, and from now on
Schiller could live for his ideals.
As he had mastered the field of history, he now for years put his entire
energy into the study of philosophy to round out his _Weltanschauung_
(his view of life) and his personality. Even as he worked, he knew that
his years were numbered, but his indomitable will forced the weak body to
do its bidding, and the best of Schiller's dramas, the greatest of his
philosophical poems, were written in these years of illness. Thus
Schiller proved himself the master of his fate, the captain of his soul.
Only a few weeks before his death he wrote to Wilhelm von Humboldt, _"Am
Ende sind wir doch beide Idealisten, und wuerden uns schaemen, uns
nachsagen zu lassen, dass die Dinge uns formten und wir nicht die Dinge."_
("After all both of us are idealists and would be ashamed to have it
reported of us that the things fashioned us and not we the things.")
There was in Schiller, as Goethe said, _ein Zug nach dem Hoeheren_, a
trend toward higher things. Schiller died in Weimar, May 9, 1805.
As a poet Schiller is in many respects the exact counterpart of Goethe.
The latter's lyric verse is the direct result of his everyday experience;
his real domain is the simple lyric, _das Lied_. Schiller, however,
confessed that lyric poetry in the narrower sense was not his province,
but his exile. Hardly ever did an everyday experience move him to song,
and he is at his best in the realm of philosophic poetry, where he has no
equal. This philosophic tendency predominates even in his ballads, which
are often the embodiment of a philosophical or ethical idea. While they
lack the subtle lyrical atmosphere of Goethe's, they are distinguished by
rhetorical vigor and dramatic life. Their very structure is dramatic, as
an analysis of 18 and 19 will show.
18. Ibykus, a Greek lyric poet of the sixth century B.C., bom in Rhegium,
a city in Southern Italy.
1. The Isthmian Games were celebrated every two years on the Isthmus
of Corinth in honor of Poseidon (Neptune), god of the sea.
6. Apollo, the god of song, archery and the sun (hence also called
10. _AKRORINTH_, the citadel of Corinth, situated on a mountain above
11. The pine was sacred to Poseidon. A wreath of pine was the award
of victory in the games (54).
23. _DER GASTLICHE._ Zeus, to whom hospitality was sacred.
61. _PRYTANE_, _m._--_en_, prytanis, the chief magistrate.
82. _BUEHNE_, here used for the tiers of seats for the spectators.
Compare _Schaugerueste_, 95.
91. _KEKROPS' STADT_==Athens. Kekrops, the legendary founder of the
state of Athens. _AULIS_, a harbor in Boeotia.
92. _PHOKIS_, territory in Greece to the west of Boeotia.
103. _RIESENMAss_. Since the Greek actors wore buskins and a long
mask, the gigantic stature of the chorus is in itself no indubitable
proof of the supernatural origin of this chorus. Thus the spectators
are unable to decide, whether they actually see the Eumenides or only
a chorus impersonating them. This is the meaning of 145 and 146. This
doubt yields to certainty as the action progresses (170 ff.).
117. _sense beguiling_, _heart deluding_.
118. _ERINNYEN_ or _Eumeniden_. _Eumenides_, are the avenging
goddesses of Greek mythology, the Furies.
150. _weaves the dark entangled net of fate_.
173. _GEROCHEN_, common form is _geraecht_.
182. _DIE SZENE_==Greek _skaene_ [Greek: skaenae], _the stage_.
19. The problem of the limitation of human knowledge and of the human
mind, already touched upon in Genesis 2, 17, had been brought into
prominence in Schiller's time by the philosopher Kant. He had defined the
limitations of the human mind: we can have no real knowledge of things
themselves, but can know only the impressions that things make on our
senses; furthermore our knowledge is limited to the finite, we have no
knowledge of the Infinite, the Absolute. Schiller, not satisfied with the
mere fact, in this poem expresses the conviction that there must be an
ethical reason for this necessity, a reason that is beyond our ken.
Compare also the beautiful words of Lessing: _"Nicht die Wahrheit, in
deren Besitz irgend ein Mensch ist, oder zu sein vermeinet, sondern die
aufrichtige Muehe, die er angewandt hat, hinter die Wahrheit zu kommen,
macht den Wert des Menschen. Denn nicht durch den Besitz, sondern durch
die Nachforschung der Wahrheit erweitern sich seine Kraefte, worin allein
seine immer wachsende Vollkommenheit bestehet. Der Besitz macht ruhig,
"_Wenn Gott in seiner Rechten alle Wahrheit, und in seiner Linken den
einzigen immer regen Trieb nach Wahrheit, obschon mit dem Zusatze, mich
immer und ewig zu irren, verschlossen hielte, und spraeche zu mir: waehle!
Ich fiele ihm mit Demut in seine Linke, und sagte: Vater, gib! die reine
Wahrheit ist ja doch nur fuer dich allein!"_
SAIS, city in ancient Egypt, seat of a famous shrine to Isis.
6. HIEROPHANT, [Greek: hierophantaes] (_literally_, the interpreter
of the holy), _hierophant_, a priest, the teacher of religious
61. _a thrill of heat and cold surges through his frame._
64. IN SEINEM INNERN, _in his heart_ or _within him_.
65. DEN ALLHEILIGEN, _the most holy (God)_. _All_ here has an
81. WAR DAHIN, _was gone_.
Ludwig Uhland was born April 26, 1787, in Tuebingen, where his father and
both his grandfathers had been connected with the University. Uhland took
up the profession of law, but his heart's desire led him to the study of
the older German poetry and folklore, and from 1830 to 1832 he occupied
the chair of German Literature in Tuebingen. He also took an active part
in the political life of his time in the interest of liberal tendencies
and a united Germany. He died in Tubingen, November 13, 1862. His poetry
is for the most part a product of his earlier years. Reserved and
retiring to a fault, Uhland in his lyrics but rarely gives us directly
his own emotional life, preferring to let the shepherd, the soldier, the
mountain lad speak. The type of the simple folksong predominates, and
from the _VOLKSLIED_ Uhland introduced into modern verse the modified
Nibelungen stanza and the rhymed couplet. In his ballads Uhland prefers
older historical subjects, as in _Taillefer_, that rarest jewel among his
ballads; or at least uses an historic setting, as in the more popular
_Des Saengers Fluch_.
21.--6. _Mutterhaus_, i.e., source.
18. RUFE ZU, _call to them_.
22. Notice how the first line, giving the situation, is repeated at
the close of the poem and thus frames the picture.
6. _Sweet thrills of awe, mysterious stirring_.
23.--12. EINMAL, _sometime_.
24.--7. SICH INS FELD MACHEN, to start out into the field. Compare _sich
auf den Weg machen_, _to start out_.
25.--67. MIT JEDEM TAG, compare English, _with every passing day_.
27.--3. IN FREIER HAND, _with free_, i.e., _unsupported, hand_.
4. ERFAND = _fand_.
8. SOLL GEHOLFEN SEIN, _it shall be remedied_.
29.--1. ZOGEN ... WOHL, render _did journey_.
2. BEI, _at the house of_; _bei einer Frau Wirtin_, _at the inn of
3. HAT SIE, third person singular as formal direct address
13. DECKTE DEN SCHLEIER ZU, _covered her face with the veil_.
14. DAZU, _while doing this_.
17. HUB, archaic for _hob_.
18. AN, archaic for _auf_.
30.--2. NIT, dialectal for _nicht_.
5. IN GLEICHEM SCHRITT UND TRITT, _keeping step_.
6. KAM GEFLOGEN, _came flying_; _kommen_ is construed with the past
8. Impersonal construction best rendered by the passive.
31. TAILLEFER, i.e., iron cutter. Duke William of Normandy defeated the
English under Harold at Hastings in 1066.
6. SCHWINGT = _turns_. The water was pulled up by a windlass.
14. DABEI, _while doing it_.
16. KLINGEN MIT SCHILD UND SCHWERT, _make shield and sword resound_.
25. FUHR WOHL, _did journey_.
27. Told by the chronicles. To stumble was an ill omen.
29. ZUM STURME SCHRITT, _went to attack_.
35. SO LASST MICH DAS ENTGELTEN, etc., _let me receive my dues for
40. ROLAND, one of the famous paladins of Charlemagne; his deeds were
much celebrated in song. HELD, usually weak.
43. VON, render _with_.
45. SPRENGT' ER HINEIN, i.e., _in den Feind_. STOSS, _thrust_ (of the
47. SCHLAG, blow (of the sword).
58. IN LIEB UND IN LEID, _in joy and in sorrow_.
32.--5. REICH AN, _rich in_.
7. BLICKEN used transitively.
10. GRAU VON HAAR. Compare _blue of eyes and fair of hair_.
35. BLITZEND, _like a flash of lightning_.
42. ALLER HARFEN PREIS, _the best of all harps_.
63. HELDENBUCH, a book telling of heroes and their deeds.
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, the scion of an old aristocratic family,
was born in his ancestral castle in Silesia, March 10, 1788, and died
November 26, 1856. Three things especially have left an impression on his
poetry: his deeply loved Silesian home with its castle-crowned wooded
hills and its beautiful valleys and streams; a simple childlike piety;
and an early acquaintance with the _Volksbuecher_ and the _Volkslied_. The
only things in Eichendorff's life that have a romantic glamor are his
happy, carefree student days and his participation in the Wars of
Liberation (1813-1815). When peace was declared, the poet entered the
service of the Prussian state and proved himself a careful and trusted
official. Thus, living a busy life, he could write that classic of
romantic idleness: _Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts_, _The Autobiography
of a Good-for-Nothing_.
Eichendorff's lyric verse can be described best by Nietzsche's definition
of a _Lied_: "_Takt als Anfang, Reim als Ende, und als Seele stets
Musik_." Music is the very soul of his lyrics to an unusual degree. A
melody of haunting sweetness dwells in his simple lines. It is as if the
music of Robert Schumann had sought to clothe itself in words. Coupled
with this, we meet a most delicate perception of nature and a remarkable
ability to portray her various aspects and her ever varying moods.
Romantic _Sehnsucht_ (yearning), romantic _Wanderlust_ and the romantic
love of nature have found in Eichendorff their finest expression.
33.--10. VOR, _on account of, because of._
11. WAS, _why._
12. _with free throat and joyous breast._
16. AUFS BEST', _in the best way._
34.--3. WOHL. _indeed._
13. BANNER, usually neuter.
16. The forest is the scene of many of the old legends.
21. _Always remain steadfast and true._ Compare: _Wir bleiben die
Alten_, i.e., our feeling toward each other will not change, we shall
remain true friends.
35. Besides its love of nature and its religious note, both apparent in
the previous poems, notice especially the touch of symbolism; the poet
stands in _Waldesschatten wie an des Lebens Rand_.
5, 6. SCHLAGEN HEREIN, _the tones of the bells come pealing into the
shadow of the forest._
10. VON. _down from, on._
36. This poem describes, as the title indicates, the dawn of spring: how
spring in a moonlight night imparts a mysterious stirring of new life to
all nature. With its variously interwoven rhymes, both end and internal,
its use of assonance and alliteration, to mention only the more obvious
effects, the poem is a musical symphony.
8. WOLKENFRAU'N, clouds personified.
11. FRUEHLINGSGESELLEN, i.e. _Waldquellen_ as helpers of spring.
37. Might well be compared to the elfin dances of Moritz von Schwind, the
38.--2. EIN SCHUSS FAELLT, _a shot (of a gun) is heard_.
40.--5. ENTBRENNTE for _entbrannte_.
42. Compare with 38, as to the use of the human element.
1. DER NEBEL FAELLT, i.e., sinks away.
2. WIE BALD SICH'S RUEHRET, _how soon life will stir_.
43.--4. Note the onomatopoetic effect of the rhythm.
44. This poem is the quintessence of Eichendorff's lyric verse. Note the
construction of the stanzas. The first stanza is composed of two
syntactic units: 1 and 2, 3 and 4; the second of four units; notice the
effect of the two heavy syllables _sternklar_; the third stanza reverts
in structure to the first. Notice the effect of the inversion in 10:
_Weit ihre Fluegel aus_, -- XX -- X --.
Friedrich Rueckert, born May 16, 1788, died January 31, 1866, represents
the combination of poet and scholar in a more striking degree than even
Uhland, but he lacks the latter's rare critical ability regarding his own
verse. Oriental languages were his special field, and a most astounding
technical skill enabled him to reproduce in German the complex Oriental
verse forms with their intricate rhyme schemes. Something of this
technical skill is apparent in 45, the one well-nigh perfect poem of
Rueckert. The third stanza is an adaptation from a children's rhyme. This
the poet uses as the main motif at regular intervals, slightly varying it
in the sixth to express his own feelings directly, and closing the poem
with it in the ninth. A similar parallelism is apparent in the odd lines
of each stanza. The last line of each stanza must be read with three
accents: _Was mein einst war_, X -- -- --.
45.--7. OB, I _wonder whether_.
14. UNBEWUSSTER WEISHEIT FROH, _joyous in unconscious wisdom_, i.e.,
full of wisdom and not aware of it.
16. SALOMO, _Solomon_, the wise king of the Hebrews. Oriental legends
attributed to him magic and supernatural knowledge.
25. WOHL, concessive, _it is true_.
Heinrich Heine was born in Duesseldorf, December 13, 1797, of Jewish
parents. The Napoleonic Wars were among the chief impressions of his
childhood. He saw Napoleon ride through Duesseldorf; he saw the tattered
remains of the Grande Armee return from the disastrous Russian campaign;
and although not without the patriotic fervor of the German youth, he
could not but admire the genius of the great Corsican (46). At Hamburg
the young Heine was to enter upon a commercial career under the guidance
of his rich uncle, but failed. An unrequited love for his cousin Amalie
Heine became for a number of years the subject of his song. His favorite,
almost exclusive vehicle; of expression is the simple stanza of the
_Volkslied_, which he uses with consummate skill for new effects. Heine's
attempts in law proved as futile as those in business; although he did
pass his examination for the degree of _Doctor juris_, the study of
poetry had been his chief endeavor in his university career. Finally he
decided to make literature his profession. Disgruntled with things in
general and more especially with Germany--he had been crossed in his love
for Amalie's younger sister Therese, the rich uncle not wanting a
penniless poet for a son-in-law--Heine went to Paris in 1831, where he
lived till his death (February 17, 1856), often reviling but always
cherishing and loving Germany, the country of sweet romantic song.
Compare his poem _In der Fremde_ (64).
46. The theme of the poem is the loyalty of the humble soldier to his
chosen hero. Its tone is utterly realistic, its language and metaphors
those of everyday prose. Notice the effects Heine achieves by varying the
number of unaccented syllables, e.g., 13 and 33, X -- X -- X -- X -- and
X -- XX -- XX -- XX --.
2. WAREN GEFANGEN, _had been captives_.
6. VERLOREN GEHEN, _to be lost_.
10. WOHL, _indeed_; OB, _because of_.
11. MIR IST WEH, _I am sore at heart_; _mir wird weh_?
13. DAS LIED IST AUS, _the jig is up, all is over_.
18. ICH TRAGE, _I bear, I cherish_.
47--58. A rearrangement from two cycles, _Lyrisches Intermezzo_ and
_Heimkehr_. The main theme is the poet's unrequited love for his cousin
Amalie Heine (49, Therese).
48. The Lorelei is the name of a high cliff overlooking the Rhine.
Clemens Brentano invented the myth, and the theme became popular in the
early decades of the nineteenth century. Heine gave it its final form, in
which it has practically become a folksong. The first four lines give us
the mood of the poet, the second four give the setting of the action.
9-22 describe the action. Notice the utter simplicity of 21 and 22, which
characterizes also the short epilogue, 23 and 24. This simple way of
ending a poem Heine has in common with the folksong.
4. _That does not leave my thought_.
18. Impersonal, best rendered by the passive.
50. Notice that this poem has the same tripartite structure as the
preceding. (Heine's decided preference for this structure is evinced by
the great number of poems of three stanzas.)
3. GANGES, river in India.
9. This bit of nature description, although unconventional, does not
lack truth. Goethe offers a similar example, when he speaks of
_schalkhafte_ (roguish, waggish) _Veilchen_.
51. One of the finest of Heine's nature poems.
52.--6. MORGENLAND, see Vocabulary.
53.--8. NEBELTANZ, _the dance of the mists_.
54. Notice the realism of tone, not a word that rises above the plane of
everyday prose. A whole tragedy compressed into three stanzas.
6, 7. _The first man that happened to come her way_.
8. IST UEBEL DRAN, _is in a sad fix_.
55. Compare 42, where the _Stimmung_, the mood, of a bit of nature is
expressed without any reference to any human element. In this poem of
Heine the charm of the evening is embodied in the fair nymph. Compare 37.
The same tendency is apparent in many of the paintings of Schwind and
56. Stanzas 1-3 are each divided into two equal parts. In the third
stanza, however, the line of division is less marked; notice also the
effect of the inversion in 12: _Taucht er ins Flutengrab_, -- XX -- X --.
In the fourth stanza each line stands by itself.
57. Notice the effect of the rhyme combining the first and fourth lines
of each stanza. The first two lines of each stanza have four accents, the
last two, three. Notice how the metrical structure of the line is made
subservient to the mood expressed; this is especially true of 3: _Es
dunkelt schon, mich schlaefert_, X -- X -- || X -- X.
59. An apotheosis of Christ, who is represented as the spirit of
universal love permeating all things.
17. SONNENHERZ, _sun heart_, since the sun is his heart.
22 ff. These lines imitate clearly the pealing of church bells.
36. SCHAUERND IN, _thrilled with_.
60. Notice the dainty effect of the tone coloring, heightened by the
skilful use of impure rhymes.
61. The charm of this poem, as of many of Heine's, lies in its suggestive
power. The course of events is only dimly sketched, the tragic end hardly
more than alluded to. While the first two stanzas are composed of two
equal parts each, the last is composed of four.
62.--2, 4. WOHL, translate: _They do_, etc.
63. Of Heine's poems this was the favorite of Lenau. Absolute unity of
form and content: ceaseless change in ceaseless monotony.
7. WO SIND SIE HIN? _Whither are they gone?_
64.--5. DAS, without any definite antecedent.
65. The inscription on Heine's grave in Paris. Compare with it Robert
Louis Stevenson's Requiem.
5. WO = _irgendwo_, _somewhere_.
11. TOTENLAMPEN, lamps burned in the vaults in honor of the dead.
August Graf von Platen-Hallermuende was born in Ansbach, Bavaria, October
24, 1796, and died near Syracuse, Sicily, December 5, 1835. The son of a
noble family, Platen is, barring his _Weltschmerz_ (_world weariness_,
compare Lenau) and the fact that he spent a good part of his life in
foreign lands, the exact opposite of Heine. While Heine affects a certain
carelessness of rhyme and rhythm and diction, Platen observes a studied
elegance. His verse form is faultless as if chiselled in marble, his
rhymes the most careful and pure. His ballads have a stately majesty of
rhythm that reflects the inherent nobility of the poet. On the whole, his
stanzas are characterized by a full and sonorous ring, although effects
of delicate grace are not wanting (67). Platen is one of the greatest
masters of form in German literature and is unrivalled as a master of the
66. ALARICH (_Alaric_), the great leader of the Goths, having conquered
Rome, succumbed to a fever when 34 years old (410 A.D.), and was buried
by his troops near Cosenza (Cosentia) in the river Busento. Notice the
stately dignity of the long trochaic line without any marked caesural
pause. Any attempt to introduce the latter spoils the majestic ring of
1. LISPELN, best rendered, _are lisped_, or _resound faintly_.
7. _vied with each other for places in the rows along the stream_.
67. The lily swaying to and fro in the water is perfectly pictured by the
rhythm, especially by the recurring five-syllable rhymes.
68. The peculiar effect is largely due to the preponderance of rhymes on
_a_ or _o_ which have proved an insurmountable obstacle for every
translator. Even Longfellow failed. His rhymes of light, night, change
the whole effect.
9. IN ACHT NEHMEN. _to watch_, in poetry is often construed with the
14. Refers to the harmony of the spheres.
18. _Deceptively remote distance._
20. AUFS NEUE, _anew_.
69. PINDAR, the greatest of the Greek lyric poets, died according to
legend as here described. He is justly famous for his majestic odes, and
Platen revered him as his master.
9. SCHAUSPIEL, here _theater_.
11. It was customary in Greece for an older man to cultivate the
friendship of a youth, e.g., Socrates and Alcibiades.
12. In the Greek drama the action was interspersed with choral odes,
which were sung to the accompaniment of flutes.
Nikolaus Niembsch von Strehlenau, known as Nikolaus Lenau, the third in
the group of the poets of _Weltschmerz_ (Lord Byron is the best example
in England), was born in Southern Hungary August 13, 1802. The father, a
gambler and libertine, died before the boy was five years old; the
mother, a high strung, passionate woman, battled with poverty for the
sake of her children, of whom Nikolaus was her idol. His first impression
of nature was the silent solitude and vastness of the Hungarian plains,
which probably helped to accentuate an inherent strain of melancholy. Led
astray by a youthful errant passion, he is haunted by a feeling of guilt,
of lost innocence, and Dame Melancholy becomes his faithful life
companion. When later happiness in the guise of human love crosses his
pathway, he does not dare stretch out his hand. Shuddering, he feels
there is something "too fatally abnormal about him that he should affix
that heavenly rose to his dark gloomy heart." Living only for his art and
ever eager to enrich it with new impressions, he goes to America. There
Nature was virgin still, untouched by the hands of man. What a lure!
Incidentally he hopes to be cured of his melancholy and to gain an easy
competence by investing in government land. After a winter spent on the
American frontier (1832-1833) he returns to Germany a sadder, if not a
wiser man, and becomes a restless wanderer until in 1844 the fate that he
always dreaded overtakes him: his spirit is enshrouded in insanity. Six
years later, August 22, 1850, he dies in an asylum near Vienna.
Lenau's poetry is for the most part an expression of intense melancholy,
full of "sadness at the doubtful doom of humankind." It abounds in subtle
nature descriptions, often quite impressionistic in their effect (76 and
especially 77). Sometimes the poet employs a homely realism (75). Lenau
was a master of the violin, and his verse is full of striking rhythmical
effects; on the whole he prefers the slower cadences so well suited to
70. An apostrophe to the night, which is addressed as _du dunkles Auge_.
5, 6. VON HINNEN NEHMEN, _to take away_.
8. FUER UND FUER, _forever and ever_.
71.--3. Describes vividly the effect of the pale moonlight on the green
72.--7. WAS for _etwas_.
10. WILL, _wills_.
73.--1 ff. In German, May is the incarnation of all spring-time beauty
and bliss. Compare 2 and 110 and the word _Maienglueck_ in 29.
3. OB = _ueber_.
8. STRASSEN, old weak dative.
12. FRUEHLINGSKINDER, i.e., birds.
29 f. MITTEN IN ... INNEN, _in the midst of_.
42. MAG, _may_.
44. ERDEN, see note on 8.
46. 'S IST EWIG SCHADE, _it is too bad_, _it is a pity_.
56. DRAENGE, subjunctive of purpose.
59. OB, instead of _als ob_. Common with Lenau.
60. STIMMEN, instead of _einstimmen_; _in ein Lied einstimmen_ = _to
join in a song_.
63. LAG, _lingered_.
74. The heavy, slow moving rhythm is in apt harmony with the scene
12. 'EINER UM DEN ANDEREN', _one after another_, _in turn_.
75.--13. 'DAS AUFGESCHLAGNE GEBET', _the prayer to which the book was
76. This may be the direct description either of a Dutch landscape or of
a painting. Holland, like most of the North Sea Plain, is one vast level
expanse of country, through which the rivers and brooks move but
sluggishly. Here and there a Dutch windmill looms up; like all other
objects it seems to peer forth from a haze because of the moisture-laden
atmosphere. Nowhere else does nature assume such a bewitchingly drowsy
aspect in autumn as here.
10. OB, compare note to 73, 59. TRUTZE = trotze.
11. STROHKAPUZE, refers to the straw thatched roof.
77.--6. IN EINS FALLEN, _to coalesce_.
8. _And in sadness become oblivious of each other_.
9. HIN UND WIEDER, _back and forth_.
78. The last of Lenau's _Waldlieder_. The morbid melancholy of the poet
has softened, and death is to him _heimlich still vergnuegtes Tauschen_,
_silent sweet passing from one state to another_.
5. VON HINNEN, _away_.
Eduard Moerike was born in Ludwigsburg, September 8, 1804. Circumstances
forced him into the study of theology, and so he passed through the
schools preparatory to the famous Tuebingen School of Divinity, where he
completed his studies. He proved but an indifferent student (his thorough
knowledge of Greek and Latin was in good part the result of later
studies), he preferred to live in a fairy world of his own creation.
Nature, music, and poetry were his delight, and of all the poets Goethe
was always his favorite. For eight years Moerike was vicar in various
villages of Wuerttemberg, more than once tempted to give up the ministry,
but finally realizing that there was no better place to live his poet
dreams than the attic room of a Suabian parsonage.
In 1834 he became pastor in Cleversulzbach, a secluded little village,
nestling among the Suabian hills. Here the poet, with his mother and
sister, lived an idyllic existence, his most frequent visitor the Muse.
Ill health forced him to resign in 1843, and Moerike once more became a
wanderer. During these years love again crossed his path, and to be able
to marry--his pension was too meager--he accepted (1851) a position at a
girls' seminary in Stuttgart, where he taught German Literature for one
or two hours a week, a none too heavy and an altogether congenial task.
Moerike died June 4, 1875.
Moerike's poetry gives abundant proof of a rich creative imagination. Even
his everyday speech was of an astounding concreteness, and thus the
various aspects of Nature assume bodily shape. Spring becomes a youth,
the symphony of spring the soft tone of a harp (81); the night--a fairy
woman--leans against the rocky cliff listening to the azure of the sky
(79). Although the idyllic predominates, deeper tragic notes are not
wanting (84, 85) nor is the full note of exuberant joy (86). But early in
life Moerike realized that any overflowing measure of joy or grief would
prove destructive to his oversensitive nature, and the golden mean became
inevitably his ideal (88). Never has he expressed that sweet serenity of
soul, which he gained not without a bitter struggle, more beautifully
than in the melodious lines: "_Auf eine Lampe_" (87).
79. In its allegorical personification the poem might be compared to a
painting of Boecklin. Like Venus of yore, the night rises from the sea and
at midnight sees the golden balance of time (the heavenly bodies) rest in
equilibrium. The springs try to lull the night, their mother, to sleep
with a song of the beauty of the day. She prefers the azure melody of the
midnight sky, but the waters continue to sing, even in their sleep, of
the day that has just passed. This contest the poet has also portrayed
rhythmically: compare the measured trochaic movement of the first half of
each stanza with the lighter and more rapid dactylic movement of the
5. KECKER, since the noises of the day no longer interfere with their
12. In apposition with _des Himmels Blaeue_. The firmament is the yoke
along which the fleeting hours glide; GLEICHGESCHWUNGEN, _equally
arched_, i.e., perfectly circular.
80.--3. SCHLEIER, of mist.
5. HERBSTKRAEFTIG, full of autumnal vigor; GEDAEMPFT, because the mists
and the haze have softened all sharpness of outline and color.
81.--1. BLAUES BAND, metaphorical for blue sky.
7. HARFENTON, the symphony of spring, the heard and unheard stirring
of new life.
82. The stanza form is an adaptation of a famous Lutheran hymn: _Wie
schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern_.
83. Of the character of the _Feuerreiter_, a creation of Moerike, only
this much is clear: he fights fire and has often used sinfully
(_freventlich_) holy means (_des heil'gen Kreuzes Span_) to charm fire.
Finally, however, he becomes a victim of the infernal powers.
21. DER ROTE HAHN, the symbol of fire.
26. FEIND, Satan.
40. As the refrain in the preceding stanzas has depicted the tolling
of the bell, so the sudden break here depicts the ceasing.
42. MUESSEN, old weak dative.
84. In its beautiful simplicity this song has become a folksong, Since it
presents many metrical irregularities, the following scansion may be
found useful. A dot is used to indicate pitch accent.[*]
[* Transcriber's note: Here represented by 'Y'.]
X -- X -- X -- -- XX -- X --
XX -- XX -- X -- XX -- X
Y -- X -- X -- X -- X -- X --
X -- X -- X X -- X -- X
Y -- X -- X -- -- XX -- X --
X -- XX -- X -- XX -- X
X -- X -- -- X -- X -- X --
X -- X -- X X -- X -- X
86. Moerike found the name _Rohtraut_ by chance in an old German lexicon.
The full vowel coloring appealed to him and called forth this ballad.
5. TUT etc., dialectic periphrastic conjugation = _fischt und jagt_.
19. WUNNIGLICH (_wonniglich_). 22. VERGUNNT (_vergoennt_)--these
archaic forms are in keeping with the tone of the ballad and the
patriarchal life at King Ringang's court.
87. Appropriately written in the stately Greek trimeter (iambic verse of
six feet). Compare with this poem the closing lines of Keats' _Ode to a
Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
_Was aber schoen ist, selig scheint es in ihm selbst._
_But beauty seems a thing all blessed within itself._
6. SCHLINGT DEN RINGELREIHN, circle about in a round dance.
10. IHM, old reflexive instead of _sich_.
88. The confession of Moerike's ideal.
1. WILLT = _willst_.
2. _A thing of joy or a thing of sorrow._
5-7. WOLLEST NICHT UEBERSCHUETTEN, _pray do not overwhelm with a flood
89. Lines of three and of two accents alternate, so that the poem is
really written in blank verse; its character is, however, entirely
changed, since the last word of each line stands out because of the
necessary rhythmical pause. Notice the change in the last two lines.
Friedrich Hebbel, Germany's greatest master of tragedy since the days of
Schiller, was born March 18, 1813, in the little village of Wesselburen
in Holstein. Thus his first impression of nature was the infinite expanse
of the North Sea Plain. Bitterest poverty was his lot from childhood;
poverty and loneliness put their harsh imprint on his youth and early
manhood. Haunted by hunger, he battled for years to gain a mere living,
often on the brink of despair. His only help was a small stipend from the
king of Denmark, which enabled him to spend two years in Paris and Rome,
and the meager pennies that his devoted friend Elise Lensing, a poor
seamstress in Hamburg, sent him. His short stories, his dramas, although
they brought him fame, were of little avail in this struggle that seemed
all too hopeless. Then a sudden change for the better came. Stopping at
Vienna on his return from Rome, he found himself in a small circle of
ardent admirers. He met Christine Enghaus, at that time Germany's
greatest tragic actress, who became the most congenial interpreter of
Hebbel's heroines. The attraction was mutual and on May 26, 1846,
Friedrich Hebbel and Christine Enghaus were married. Now followed years
of calm maturity, the greatest period of Hebbel's dramatic production.
Hebbel died in Vienna December 13, 1863. His lyric poetry, for the most
part the product of his earlier years, is marked above all by a tendency
towards symbolism, these symbols usually of a rich sensuous beauty and
often of a rare delicacy. A homely realism is, however, by no means
lacking. The musical quality of his verse attracted the genius of Robert
Schumann, who set the _Nachtlied_ to music.
90. In the spring of 1836 Hebbel went to Heidelberg. A child of the North
Sea Plain, he came in contact here with a richer, softer beauty of a more
Southern landscape, a beauty which seemed to set free his latent powers.
A night in the month of May on the wooded summits near Heidelberg called
forth this song. The giant magnitude of the starry heavens awakened in
the poet to an overpowering degree the feeling of the greatness of cosmic
life; he feels the insignificance of his own individual existence, he
feels as if it were in danger of being extinguished by the vastness of
the great All; but then sleep comes as a kindly nurse and draws her
protecting circle about the meager flame of individual existence. Notice
the internal rhymes in the first and second stanzas that picture cosmic
life and its reflection in the individual, and the utterly different
effect of the third stanza, that returns to the narrower sphere of
91.--3. SPIELT HEREIN, _comes playing into the room_.
6. GEFAELLT IHM GAR ZU SEHR, _it likes all too well_.
92.--10. It was customary for the neighbors to perform the last kindly
offices for the dead.
16. WAS, _which_.
93.--1. DIE DU, _thou who_.
95.--6 ff. WIR STERBEN: because in this union, when even the last barrier
separating the "I" from the "Thou" has fallen, the aim of life has been
reached in utter harmony which overcomes the limitations of individual
existence. Thus these two souls may return into the All, as expressed in
the beautiful symbol of the last stanza.
11. ZERFLIESSEN IN EINS, _coalesce_.
97. Compare Keats' _Ode to Autumn_.
98. Addressed to Christine Hebbel, the poet's wife.
3, 4. IN FLAMMEN STEHEN, _to be aflame_. This passage could be
rendered, _that stands as if aflame with morning light at the
10. LAESST = _verlaesst_.
Gottfried Keller, best known as the master of the _Novelle_, was born in
Zuerich, July 19, 1819, as the son of a master turner. A love for the
concrete world of reality induced him to take up painting. Keller was not
without talent in this line, but achieving no signal success, he gave up
painting for letters. To secure for himself a stable footing in the civic
world, Keller, after a number of years spent in Germany, in 1861 assumed
the office of a municipal secretary of his native city, where he died
July 15, 1890. Early in life, Keller threw aside all conventional
beliefs, and his religion henceforth was a deep love of and a joyous
faith in all life. Although Keller was in many respects decidedly
matter-of-fact, a calm objective observer with a strong leaning toward
utilitarian ideals--he had all the homely virtues of his ancestry--he
nevertheless delighted in a myth-creating fancy. Thus Keller is very much
akin to his countryman Arnold Boecklin, whom the German world honors as
its greatest modern painter.
99. One of the finest expressions extant of love for one's native land.
The various national anthems pale before its beauty.
3. OB = _obgleich_.
9. HELVETIA, _Switzerland_.
13. GUT UND HAB (usually _Hab und Gut_), _possessions_; render, _all
that I have_.
15. OB, compare 3.
100. The grief and woe of Nature held by the fetters of winter
personified by this nymph climbing the "_Seebaum_," whose branches are
held by the ice. A mythical creation such as Boecklin delighted in.
12. GLIED UM GLIED, _limb upon limb_, i.e., _each separate limb_.
14. HER UND HIN, _forth and back_.
16. The very sound of this line is a cry of pity.
101. Written 1879. Theodor Storm called it the best lyric poem since
Goethe. Compare C. F. Meyer's letter to Keller congratulating him on his
seventieth birthday. Meyer praises Keller's poetry because of its
"_innere Heiterkeit_," and continues: "_Auch meine ich, dass Ihr fester
Glaube an die Guete des Daseins die hoechste Bedeutung Ihrer Schriften ist.
Ihnen ist wahrhaftig nichts zu wuenschen als die Beharrung in Ihrem Wesen.
Weil Sie die Erde lieben, wird die Erde Sie auch so lange als moeglich
Theodor Storm, like Friedrich Hebbel, is a child of the North Sea Plain;
but while in Hebbel's verse there is hardly any direct reference to his
native landscape, Storm again and again sings its chaste beauty; and
while Hebbel could find a home away from his native heath, Storm clung to
it with a jealous love. He was born in Husum (_die graue Stadt am grauen
Meer_) on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, September 14, 1817, of
well-to-do parents. While still a student of law, he published a first
volume of verse together with Tycho and Theodor Mommsen. His favorite
poets were Eichendorff and Moerike, and the influence of the former is
plainly discernible even in Storm's later verse. Storm left his home in
1851 and did not return until 1864, after Schleswig-Holstein had become
German. He died July 4, 1888.
Storm is the poet of the North Sea Plain: he discovered its peculiar
beauty. While the tragic note predominates, joy and humor nevertheless
abound, and at the beginning of his poems Storm himself significantly
placed his _Oktoberlied_, written in the political gloom and uncertainty
of the fall of 1848. While realizing fully its inherent tragic elements,
Storm loved and glorified life and thirstily drank in its beauty to the
very last. This is the keynote of Storm's lyrics.
102.--21. DIE BLAUEN TAGE, _azure days_, i.e., _days blue as the heavens
103.--6. _my heart is filled with joyous fright_.
104.--2. STEIN, i.e., _millstone_.
8. PUK, _Puck_, an elfin spirit of mischief. Compare Shakspere,
_Midsummer Night's Dream_.
105. The poet's tribute to his home city Husum, "_die graue Stadt am
13. FUER UND FUER, _forever and ever_.
107. In memory of the poet's sister.
8. RECHT GESCHWISTER, _true brother and sister_.
11 f. NOCH WEHT EIN KINDERFRIEDEN MICH AN, _still a breath of
childhood peace comes to me_.
108.--18. PFINGSTGLOCKEN; _Pfingsten_, _Pentecost_, is celebrated as a
summer festival. In Northern Germany house doors are wreathed with birch
twigs, while young birch trees are placed upright on the wings of the
109.--6. MIR IST, etc., _I feel (full of life) like_, etc.
110.--1. VIVAT, Latin, _long may he live_, render _hurrah!_
111.--8. _what otherwise would be honorable_.
112. Storm has used the same motif in _Immensee_.
113.--7. SCHLAG, i.e., _pulsation (beat) of pain_.
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer was born October 12, 1825, in Zuerich, and is thus
a fellow-townsman of Keller. Like Keller Meyer is a master of the
_Novelle_, but in all other respects there is a most striking difference.
Keller was a sturdy commoner and always retained a certain affinity with
the soil; there is a wholesome vigor about him. Meyer is of patrician
descent; His father, who died early, was a statesman and historian; his
mother a highly gifted woman of fine culture. Thus the boy grew up in an
atmosphere of refinement. Having finished the Gymnasium, he took up the
study of law, but history and the humanities were of greater interest to
him. Even in the child two traits were observed that later characterized
the man and the poet: he had a most scrupulous regard for neatness and
cleanliness, and he lived and experienced more deeply in memory than in
the immediate present. Meyer found himself only late in life; for many
years also, being practically bilingual, he wavered between French and
German. The Franco-German War brought the final decision, and from now on
his works appeared in rapid succession. He died in his home in Kilchberg
above Zuerich, November 28, 1898.
Meyer's lyric verse is almost entirely the product of his later years. It
has none of the youthful exuberance of Goethe's earlier lyrics; a note of
quiet calm, a mellow maturity pervades all; both joy and sorrow live only
in the memory. And still Meyer loved life's exuberant fullness, and a
more finely attuned ear hears through this calm the beat of a heart that
felt joy and sorrow deeply. Everywhere there is apparent a love of nature
interpreted with all the modern subtlety of feeling. Meyer was a Swiss
and his landscape, is that of Switzerland, one might even say that of
Zuerich. Nature hardly ever speaks in herself, but only in her human
relationship; not the field alone, but the field and the sower (121), the
field and the reaper (118); not the lake alone, but the lake and the
solitary oarsman (124). The poet loves the work of human hands and
especially its highest form, that of art. Thus a Roman fountain (119), a
picture, a statue become the subject of his verse. Of all the arts he
loved sculpture most, and in its chaste self-restraint his poetry is like
marble. Give marble a voice and you have a poem of Conrad Ferdinand
Meyer. His poetry is also akin to marble in its perfection of form that
is faultless, because it is the living rhythmic embodiment of an idea, of
an experience. Witness but the melody and the rhythm of _der roemische
Brunnen_ or of the _Saeerspruch_. In English letters Walter Savage Landor
is a kindred spirit and his _Finis_, except for a note of haughty pride,
might well be the epitaph of the Swiss poet:
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife.
Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art:
I warmed both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
114.--9-14. A series of "_Liederseelen_." Every one of these lines
contains the idea of one of Meyer's poems; compare 116.
11. GEN ... EMPOR, _up towards_.
115.--10. DUMPFEN RUDERS, a case of transferred epithet. The sound goes,
of course, with _Schlagen_.
116.--8. FRAEGT, usually _fragt_.
11. DU TUST DIR'S SELBST ZU LEID, _You do it_ (i.e., _stay away_) _to
your own grief_.
12. WAS FUER EIN, _what kind of a_.
119. The theme of Meyer's lyrics often is a painting, a piece of
sculpture, etc. Here a typical Roman fountain has found lasting
2. DER MARMORSCHALE RUND, _the round hollow of the marble basin_.
120.--3. ZUM ERSTEN, _at first_.
121. The poem in its rhythm embodies the rhythm of the sower. Compare
Millet's painting _The Sower_.
122.--4. NICHT EINER, DER DARBE, _not one that may suffer want_.
123. The Dutch school of painting is famous for its realism and its truth
to life. The effect of this poem is due in no small mean to contrast:
"_das kleine zarte Bild_" of the first two lines described, 12 ff., and
the "_Junker mit der Dirn, der vor Gesundheit fast die Wange birst_"; the
quiet of death, the quiet grief of the master, and the boisterous
fullness of life.
NACH, _according to, from_.
3. ES POCHT, _Somebody knocks_. HEREIN, _come in_.
5. VOR, _because of_.
6. VON, _with_.
10. ZUR STUNDE, _at once_.
16. NACH DER NATUR, _from life_.
126. It is necessary to bear in mind that in Switzerland dusk first
settles in the valleys and then gradually creeps up to the villages
situated on a higher level.
8. KILCHBERG, the poet's home near Zuerich.
128.--3. GEMAHL, _n._ in poetry instead of _Gemahlin_.
4. MORGENSCHAUER, _the cool morning breezes_, the chill that falls
just before sunrise.
12. SOMMERHOEHN, the higher meadows where the cattle can graze only in
the summer months.
Detlev von Liliencron, a countryman of Hebbel and Storm, was born in
Kiel, June 3, 1844. He loved a soldier's life and served his country in
two wars, 1866 and 1870-71, and thus saw life in its grim reality.
Because of wounds and debts, he tells us, he left the army. An inborn
love of adventure and action made him try his fortune in America, where
his mother's father had served under Washington. His aim was to enter the
military service of one of the Central or South American states.
Disappointed in his hopes, he returned to Germany and for a number of
years was a government official. This task, however, proved too irksome
for his restless spirit, and in spite of his continual financial
embarrassments, he resigned to live as he pleased. He died in Hamburg,
July 22, 1909.
In his younger days, Liliencron felt the throb and stir of life far too
keenly to find leisure for literature. Not till 1884 did his first volume
of verse appear, recollections of his soldier days. The volume contains
graphic descriptions of the most concise brevity, single words taking the
place of whole sentences (132).
He delineates war with all its horror, not however without a sad pathos
(133). He is also a master at depicting the more joyous side of a
soldier's life, the carefree maneuvres of a regiment with its colors and
music passing through a village (130). In his love of nature Liliencron
is akin to Storm, and even surpasses the older poet in the
impressionistic vividness of his descriptions.
130. The poem pictures a German village scene: soldiers with their music
approach from the distance, march through and disappear.
3. BRICHT'S, _breaks forth_ or _bursts forth_.
6 ff. The attention is first focused on the deeper notes. A gradual
rise in pitch is noticeable in the lines from instrument to
24. LATERNENGLAS, of the street lanterns.
29. WILHEL(MINE), KATHARINE (TRINE), CHRI(STINE)
131.--9. SIRRT, an onomatopoetic word coined by the poet to imitate the
sound of the scythe cutting through the grain.
10. ARBEITSFRIEDEN, _the quiet peace of daily labor_.
11. HEIMATWELT, _home world_. Compare _Alltagswelt_, _work-a-day
132.--4. _march and flood of victory_.
11 f. DURCH DIE LUEFTE BRAUST, etc., _with horrible whir of wings a
flight of vultures passes through the air_.
133. Famous battle in the Seven Years War, in which Frederick the Great
was defeated with enormous losses by the Austrians.
2. SOMMERHALM, lit. summerstalk, i.e., _growing grain_.
4. IST AUS, _is over_.
9. _he had to go_.
16. BEVERN, a small town in Brunswick.
22. HINEIN, into the book.
134.--4. WINZERVOLK, collective sing. Best rendered as plural of
136. A lullaby for the poet's son _Wulff_ (_Wolf_).
3. MONDESKAHN, i.e., crescent moon-shaped like a boat. Render the
line, _slowly the crescent moon floats like a boat_.
137.--5. _The content of life not stirred by a breeze_.
138.--6 ff. SONNENGRUEN ... WEISS ... STILL. The peculiar effect of
sunlight on colors and on quiet is depicted by these compounds.
14. -FAELTIG, _-fold_.
16. _slowly the dusk of evening lowers_.
As this book presupposes a knowledge of elementary grammar, pronouns,
numerals, the common prepositions, and modal and auxiliary verbs are not
given. Of strong verbs only the vowel change, including the quantity when
different from the infinitive, is indicated, unless the verb shows
further irregularities. Intransitive verbs that take _sein_ contrary to
rule are marked with 's'. The prefix of separable verbs is followed by -.
Of nouns only the plural is given, unless they belong to the so-called
mixed declension. Compound words whose meaning is readily discernible
from the component parts, are not included.
[Transcriber's note: In the original, there are no commas between the
German word (printed in bold type) and its English translation in simple
definitions. Bold type is usually rendered as ALL CAPS in PG e-texts, but
since the meaning of German words can depend on their capitalization
(e.g. 'arm' and 'Arm' mean different things) I have added commas instead
to make the vocabulary more easily understandable. Short vowels are
marked with [s], long vowels with [l]. '-"' is my rendering for a change
of a vowel to an umlaut in plural form.]
Abend, _m._ -e evening
Abendrot, _n._ evening glow
abends, _adv._ in the evening
Abendschein, _m._ evening light _or_ glow
ab-fallen, ie, a; ae, _intr._ fall off
Abgrund, _m._ -"e abyss
ab-kehren, _refl._ turn away
ab-leiten, _tr._ lead aside
ab-messen, a[l], e; i, _tr._ measure off
ab-nehmen, a, omm; imm, _tr._ take off
ab-reisen, _intr._ leave on a journey
Abschied, _m._ departure, farewell
ab-schmeicheln, _tr._ obtain by flattery
ab-streifen, _tr._ slip off
ab-zaehlen, _tr._ count off
ach, alas, ah
achten, _tr._ heed, care for (_poet. with gen._)
acht-geben, a, e; i, _intr._ give heed
aechzen, _intr._ groan
Ade, _n._ farewell
Ader, _f._ -n vein, blood vessel
ahnen, _tr. and intr._ divine, have a foreboding of
ahnungsvoll, full of sweet foreboding; ominous
Aehre, _f._ -n ear of grain
Aehrenfeld, _n._ -er field of ripening grain
All, _n._ the universe; entirety, unison
allzu, _adv._ (_in compounds_) much too, all too
Alpe, _f._ -n the Alps
Alter, _n._ -- age
Altersschwaeche, _f._ senility, weakness of old age
Amme, _f._ -n nurse
Amselschlag, _m._ song of the Amsel (_kind of blackbird_)
an-beten, _tr._ worship
an-blicken, _tr._ look at
an-brechen, a[l], o; i, _intr._ dawn, break
an-fangen, i, a; ae, _tr._ begin
an-fassen, _tr._ catch hold of, seize
an-gehen, ging, gegangen _intr._ be possible
Angel, _m._, f. -s, -n fishhook
Angesicht, _n._ -er face, countenance
Angst, _f._ -"e fear, anguish
aengsten, aengstigen, _tr._ cause fear, frighten; _refl_. be afraid
an-halten, ie, a; ae, _tr._ stop; _intr._ last
an-klagen, _tr._ accuse
an-klingen, a, u, _intr._ begin sounding
an-legen, _tr._ put on, don
an-rufen, ie, u, _tr._ implore, call upon
an-schauen, _tr._ look at, gaze at
an-sehen, a, e; ie, _tr._ look at
an-stimmen, _tr._ strike up _or_ start (_a song_)
an-stossen, ie, o; oe, _tr._ strike, knock against; clink glasses
Antlitz, _n._ -e face, countenance
Antwort, _f._ -en answer
an-vertrauen, _tr._ intrust
an-wehen, _tr._ blow _or_ breathe upon
an-wenden, _reg_. _or_ wandte, gewandt, _tr._ use, employ
Apfel, _m._ -" apple
Arbeit, _f._ -en work, labor
Aerger, _m._ vexation, anger
Arm, _m._ -e arm
Art, _f._ -en kind, type
Arzt, _m._ -"e physician
Asche, _f._ -n ashes
Ast, _m._ -"e branch
Atem, _m._ respiration, breath
Atemzug, _m._ -"e breath, respiration
Aether, _m._ ether (_i.e._, the blue heavens)
atmen, _intr. and tr._ breathe
aufbauen, _tr._ build up, erect
aufdecken, _tr._ uncover, lay bare; raise, lift
aufdonnern, _tr._ dress ostentatiously
Aufenthalt, _m._ -e abode
auferziehen, erzog, erzogen, _tr._ bring up, rear
auffangen, i, a; ae, _tr._ catch, capture, receive
auffinden, a, u, _tr._ find, discover
aufhangen, i, a, _tr._ suspend, hang up
aufheben, o, o, _tr._ pick up, raise
auffassen, _tr._ snatch up; _refl._ rise quickly
aufrecht, upright, erect
aufreichen, _intr._ reach upward
aufschlagen, u, a; ae, _tr._ open (_a book_)
aufschweben, _intr._ soar up
aufspringen, a, u, _intr._ spring up, jump up
aufstehen, stand, gestanden, _intr._ arise, get up
aufsteigen, ie, ie, _intr._ rise upward, ascend
auftauchen, _intr._ rise up. emerge from (_the water_)
auftuermen, _tr._ pile up; aufgetuermt towering
Auge, _n._ -s, -n eye
aus-blicken, _intr._ look out
aus-brennen, brannte, gebrannt, _intr._ cease burning _or_ glowing, burn
aus-graben, u, a; ae, _tr._ dig out
aus-klingen, a, u, _intr._ cease sounding
aus-loeschen, o, o; i, _intr._ be extinguished, go out
aus-machen, _tr._ settle
aus-rufen, ie, u, _tr._ call out, cry out
aus-ruhen, _intr._ rest; _ausgeruht haben_ be rested
aus-schauen, _intr._ look out
aus-singen, a, u, _intr._ cease _or_ finish singing
aus-spannen, _tr._ stretch out, spread
aus-steigen, ie, ie, _intr._ get out, disembark
aus-strecken, _tr._ stretch out, prostrate
aus-ziehen, zog, gezogen, _tr._ undress; take off, pull off
Bach, _m._ -"e brook
baden, _tr. and intr. (refl.)_ bathe
Bahn, _f._ -en path, track
bald, soon; -- ... -- now ... now
Band, _m._ -"e volume
Band, _n._ -"er ribbon
Band, _n._ -e bond, fetter
bang, fearful, afraid
bangen, _intr._ yearn
Bank, _f._ -"e bench
bannen, _tr._ charm, drive away
Banner, _n._ -- banner
Barke, _f._ -n barque
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