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Dialogue of Cultures

Poems and Ballads by Friedrich Schiller
Archimedes and The Student

Group from Tartarus
Homage to the Arts
Human Knowledge

Melancholy to Laura
Ode to Joy
Shakespeare's Shade
The Antique to the Northern Wanderer
The Antiques at Paris
The Artists
The Dance
The Division of the World
The Diver
The German Muse
The Glove
The Maiden From Afar
The Pledge
The Power of Song
The Ring of Polycrates
The Singers of Antiquity
The Song of the Bell
The Walk
Words of Delusion
Words of Faith

Schiller's Essays and Other Writings

Listing of Other Authors

LaRouche article on Education

Education Page

Poetry Books

FIDELIO Magazine

The Artists

translated by Marianna Wertz

How fair, O Man, do you, your palm branch holding
Stand at the century's unfolding
In proud and noble manhood's prime
With faculties revealed, with spirit's fullness
Full earnest mild, in action-wealthy stillness,
The ripest son of time,
Free through reason, strong through law's measure,
Through meekness great, and rich in treasure,
Which long your breast to you did not disclose,
Nature's own lord, she glories in your bridle,
Who in a thousand fights assays your mettle
And shining under you from out the wild arose!

Besot with vic'try operose,
Let not the hand be now forgotten,
Which on life's desolated strand
The whimpering abandoned orphan,
A savage fortune's booty, found,
The spirit's future dignity did early
To your young heart in silentness display,
And sullied concupiscence surely
Did from your tender bosom turn away,
The good one, who in lofty duty
Did playfully instruct your youthfulness,
And the elevated virtue's myst'ry
In easy riddles left for you to guess,
Who, more mature to see him on returning,
In foreign arms her darling one she laid,
O fall not to degenerated yearning
To be her abject serving woman's maid!
In labor is the bee your master,
In skillfulness the earthworm has your teacher grown,
Your knowledge you do share with spirit minds far vaster,
'Tis {Art,} O Man, you have alone!

The land which knowledge does reside in
You reached through beauty's morning gate.
Its higher gleam to now abide in,
The mind on charms must concentrate.
What by the sound of Muses' singing
With trembling sweet did pierce you through,
A strength unto your bosom bringing
Which to the world-soul lifted you.

What, after many thousand years' expiring,
An aging reason first did find,
In symbol great and beautiful was lying
Revealed before unto the childlike mind.
To virtue's love her sweet form has us drafted,
A softer sense did bold depravity restrain
Ere yet a Solon legislation crafted,
Whose languid blooms did slow constrain.
Oh! Ere the thinker's spirit daring
Had of e'erlasting space conceived,
Who to the starry theater staring,
Ne'er its presentiment perceived?

She, with Orions circling her visage,
To glorify her majesty sublime,
As purer spirits contemplate her image
Consuming, o'er the stars does climb,
Upon her sunny throne upraising,
Urania, so dreadful yet so grand,
Unburdened of her crown ablazing,
Does there--as {Beauty} 'fore us stand.
The belt of grace 'round her receiving,
That she, as child, the children understand:
What here as Beauty we're perceiving,
Will first as {Truth} before us come to stand.

When the Creator from out His living presence
All mankind to mortality expelled,
And to the light, a later reappearance
To find on senses' heavy path compelled,
When all of Heaven's beings turned from him their faces,
She chose, alone, with man to be,
With the forsaken, banished races,
Magnanimous, in their mortality.
Here she in sloping flight does hover,
Around her love in land of senses' thrall,
And paints, deceiving as a lover,
Elysium upon his prison wall.

When in this nurse's arms so tender,
The frail mankind still reposed,
There holy bloodlust stirred up not an ember,
There guiltless blood was not exposed.
The heart, which she directs in gentle binding,
The servile retinue of Duty does disdain,
Her light's path falling, lovelier but winding,
Onto morality's sunlighted plain.
They who her service chaste abided
No baser urges tempt, no fates affright,
As under holy power they resided,
Then with pure spirit lives they are united
Again into sweet freedom's right.

The blissful, whom from millions, to her serving
The purest, she did consecrate,
Within whose breast she deemed her throne deserving
And through whose mouth did mightiness relate,
Whom she selected at e'er-flaming altars
To see her holy fire never falters,
Without a veil appeared she only 'fore their eye,
Whom she in tender union would ally!
Rejoice then in the honorable standing
Wherein high order has uplifted you:
In the exalted spirit world 'tis true,
You held of man the highest standing.

Till you proportion to the world brought back,
Which serve with joy all things created,
A boundless form, arrayed in evening crepe of black,
Close 'round him here, by feeble beams illuminated,
A shape of troops pugnaciously,
Which held his sense in slav'ry's bands restrained,
And rough, unsocialized as he,
At him their thousand powers trained,
--So stood creation 'fore the savage.
Within blind appetite's complete control,
By mere appearances now bidden,
Flies by him, unenjoyed and ever hidden,
So beautif'ly fair Nature's soul.

And as she fleeting overhead now stole,
You caught the friendly spirits up in tether
With tender sense, with quiet hand,
And learned how in harmonious band
To bring them socially together.
So lightly floating felt the view
Of slender shapes of cedar cultivated;
The crystal of the billows radiated
The quiv'ring image back to you.
How could you miss the lovely intimation,
With which, benevolent, fair Nature toward you drew?

Then Art, to steal her shadow forth in imitation,
The image swimming on the wave displayed to you.
Her very being parted from her,
A phantom of herself, as dream,
She jumped into the silver stream,
Herself to offer to her robber.
The beaut'ous plastic art awoke within your heart.
Too noble not at rest to be conceiving
In sand, in clay--did you to shadow life impart,
In outline its substantial self receiving.
The sweet desire for action lively woke--
From out your breast the first creation broke.

Held under careful observation
And captured by your watchful view,
The private forms betrayed in revelation
The talisman, which captivated you.
The wonder-working laws, the measure
Of charm's investigated treasure
In gentle bond were by inventive mind
Into your handiwork combined.
The obelisk and pyramid ascended,
The herm arose, the column sprang on high,
The forest's melody from reedy pipe flowed by,
And heroes' deeds in singing never ended.

The sampling of a flow'ry bed
Is bound in nosegay with a sage selection,
And thus did Art from Nature first e'er tread;
Then nosegays were into a wreath wound in collection,
And thus a second, higher Art began
From the creative hand of Man.
The child of Beauty, needing no more,
Perfected as if from your hand departed,
The crown does forfeit, that it wore,
Once actuality's imparted.
The column must, unto proportion bent,
Close ranks with all its sisters in formation,
To Maenad's harp in acclamation,
The hero in the hero host is blent.

Soon gathered near barbarians, astounded,
To see the new creations forth they ran.
Look, the delighted crowd resounded,
Look there, all this was done by Man!
As happy and more social pairs abounded,
They seized hold of the singer's lyre,
Which titans, giant battles celebrated
And lion-slayers, who, while singers did inspire,
From out their hearers heroes had created.
Then, first time, did the mind partake
Of joys more peaceful, reassuring,
Which are but from afar alluring,
Which won't its creature greed awake,
Which though enjoyed are still enduring.

Now from its carnal sleep did wrestle
The soul, so beautiful and free,
By you unchained sprang forth the vassal
Of care in lap of joy to be.
Now limits of the beast abated
And Man on his unclouded brow rang out,
And thought, that foreign stranger elevated,
From his astonished brain sprang out.
Now {stood} Man, and to starry legions
Displayed his kingly countenance,
Then to these lofty sunlit regions
His thanks conveyed through speaking glance.
Upon his cheek did smiling flower,
His voice, by sentiments now played,
Unfolded into song's full power,
Emotions moistened eye betrayed,
And jest, with charm in graceful federation,
His lips poured out in animation.

Entombed in instincts worms inherit,
In carnal pleasure full entwined,
You recognized within his mind
The noble seed of loving spirit.
Though love did instinct base inherit,
That better seed from out did bring
He thanks that shepherd first did sing.
Unto thought's level elevated
Desire more modest then cascaded
Melodic'ly from singer's mouth.
The cheeks from dew drops softly burning,
The steadfast, unextinguished yearning,
The union of all souls set forth.

The wisdom of the wise, the mild's mildness,
Nobility's grace, the strong one's power
You wed into a single likeness
And placed it into glory's bower.
The man who 'fore the unknown trembled,
Its mere reflection came to love;
Great heroes burning he assembled,
To equal that great One above.
From all archtypal Beauty the first ringing
{You} made in Nature to resound in singing.

The passions' frenzied, wild stress,
The lawless whims of fortune,
The instincts' and the duties' press
You set with your acute emotion
On straight-edge to their destination.
What Nature in her great and grand procession
In widespread distances has torn apart,
Becomes in play, in song's expression
Coherent, easy to impart.
By Furies' singing much affected,
The murder draws, though not detected,
The fate of death from out their art.
And long ere sages venture with a finding,
An Iliad is fortune's mysteries unwinding
For young antiquity unfurled;
From Thespis' chariot descending
Came Providence into the world.

But in the great course of the world
Too early was your symmetry ascending.
When swarthy hand of destiny,
What she before your eye had raveled,
Would not before your eye untie,
Then life to the abyss did fly,
Before full lovely circle traveled--
Then you did draw, with bold, audacious might,
The arc still further into future's night;
Then hurled yourself and never quivered
Into Avernus' swarthy ocean wave
And there the life that fled discovered
Beyond the urn, beyond the grave;
And then appeared with torch o'erturned the image
Of blooming Pollux, who on Castor leans so nigh:
The shadow that completes the Moon's full visage,
Before the silver circle fills on high.

Yet higher still, to ever higher stations
Creative genius soared to be.
One sees already rise creations from creations
From harmonies comes harmony.
What here delights the drunken eye alone,
Is there in service to the higher beauty;
The charms which do this nymph adorn,
In a divine Athena soften gently:
The forces which in wrestler's muscle rage,
Must seek in godly Beauty silence tender;
The figure proud of Jove, the wonder of his age,
Does in Olympus' temple homage render.

The world, transformed by labor's hand,
The human heart, by new impulses greeted,
And exercised in battles heated,
Do your creation's scope expand.
So Man, now far advanced, on pinions elevated,
With thanks does Art transport on high,
New worlds of beauty are created
From nature richer made thereby.
The bounds of knowledge melt away,
The mind, in your light vic'tries sharpened,
In mere enjoyments quickly ripened
To race through all the artificial powers,
Does set its sights on Nature's distant towers,
And overtakes her on her dusky way.
He weighs her now with human calculations,
Does gauge with measures she herself has lent;
Much better versed in Beauty's obligations,
To pass before his eye she now is sent.
In self-contented, youthful joy he raises
In loan unto the spheres his harmony,
The universal edifice he praises
And shows it off as symmetry.

Now everything that he discovers
Does tell him of proportion fair.
Fair Beauty's golden belt uncovers
In his life's course her weaving there;
While blest Perfection 'fore him hovers
In all your works victoriously e'er.
Wherever joy unblemished hurries,
Wherever silent sorrow flees,
Where contemplation thoughtful tarries,
Where tears of misery he sees,
Where thousand frights at him are 'raying;
Do follow seas of harmony,
He sees the Graces three in playing,
And, his emotions soft-refined displaying,
He strives to join the lovely company.
Soft, as the lines alluring coil together,
As all phenomena around
In softened contour blend in one another
Just so, his life's light breath is bound.
His spirit melts in Harmony's great ocean,
Which 'round his senses lustfully now flows
And quietly his thoughts, enraptured, close
On ever-present Cytherea, in devotion.
With destiny in lofty unity,
Sustained in calm on Muses and on Graces,
His friendly breast exposed obligingly,
Is struck as threat'ning arrow races
From gentle bowstring of necessity.

The trusted favorites of blessed Harmony,
Companions who to gladden life have striven,
The noblest and the dearest, those which she,
Who gave us life, that we might live has given!
That man unshackled of his duty now takes heed,
The fetters loves which him do lead,
Not prey to iron scepter of contingency,
{This} thanks you--your eternity,
And a sublime reward is your heart's treasure.
That 'round the cup in which our freedoms run
The gods of joy do joke with pleasure,
The charming dream is lovely spun,
Embraced for this be, in full measure!
The Spirit glittering and bright,
Who cloaked Necessity with grace, does order
Unto his starry vault, unto his ether,
To serve us graciously and right,
Who in destruction still adorns himself, delights us
With the sublime where he affrights us,
To be like this great Artist seek.
As on the brooklet mirror-sleek
The bright-hued banks a-dancing glimmer
With sunset's glow and flow'ry field,
So on our barren life does shimmer
The poet's lively shadow-world.
You have to us, as bride garmented,
The frightening unknown presented,
Our destiny without relent.
Just as your urns the bones do cover,
You put a magic, sweet sheen over
The dreadful sorrow's choir lament.
Throughout millenia I've hurried,
In boundless realm of ages past,
How Mankind laughs where'er you've tarried,
How dreary when you're gone at last.

What once with feathers soaring upward
Full force from your creating hands did climb,
Again itself within your arms discovered,
When silent victory of time
From off his cheeks life's rosy flower
The strength from out his members stole
And sadly, steps now lacking power,
The old man staggered on his pole.
Then you from fountain freshly rendered
The wave of life to thirsty tendered;
Twice did the epoch gain its youth anew,
Twice from the seed which you yourself did strew.

By savage hordes expatriated,
The last of off'ring brands you snatched away
From Orient's fair altars desecrated
And brought it to the Occident to stay.
There dawned the lovely fugitive much feted,
The new day, from the East, now in the West,
And on Hesperia's meadows germinated
Ionia's renewed and blooming best.
Into men's souls now cast a Nature fairer
Soft mirroring, a fair reflection bright,
And in these souls bejewelled there came aglitter
To reign the goddess great of light.
One saw the falling of a million shackles,
And for the slaves the rights of men now heard,
As brother peacefully with brother travels,
So mildly has the young mankind matured.
With inner lofty joy inspired
Of fortune's gift you take your part,
And in humility attired
With silent merit you depart.

If on the paths of thought without obstruction
Now roams th'investigator, fortune bold,
And, drunken with the paeons' loud eruption,
He reaches rashly for the crown to hold;
If now it is his rash conception
To noble guide dispatch with hireling's bread,
While by Art's dreamed-for throne's erection
The first slave office to permit instead:--
Forgive him--th'crown of all perfection
Does hover bright above your head.
With you, the spring's first blooming flower,
Fair Nature's soul-formation first arose,
With you, the harvest's joyful power,
Does Nature's self-perfecting close.

Emerged from humble clay, from stoney traces,
Creative Art, with peaceful victories embraces
The mind's unmeasured, vast domain.
What but discoverers in knowledge's high places
Can conquer, did for you its conquest gain.
The treasures which the thinker has collected
Will only in your arms first warm his heart,
When science is, by beauty ripened and perfected,
Ennobled to a work of art--
When he up to the hilltop with you sallies
And to his eye, in evening's shining part,
Is suddenly revealed--the lovely valleys.

The richer satisfied his fleeting vision,
The loftier the orders which the mind
Does fly through in {one} magic union,
Does circumscribe in {one} enjoyment blind;
The wider ope are thoughts and feelings growing
To richer play of harmonies now showing,
To beauty's more abundant streaming van--
The lovelier the pieces of the universal plan,
Which now, disfigured, tarnish its creation,
He then sees lofty forms bring to perfection.
The lovelier the riddles from the night,
The richer is the world that he embraces,
The broader streams the sea in which he races,
The weaker grows his destiny's blind might,
The higher are his urges striving,
The smaller he himself, the greater grows his loving.

So lead him, the hidden pathway show
Through ever purer forms, through music clearer,
Through ever higher heights and beauty fuller
Up poetry's beflowered ladder go--
At last, at epoch's ripest hour,
Yet one more happy inspiration bright,
The recent age of Man's poetic flight,
And--he will glide in arms of Truth's full power.

And she, the gently Cypria,
By fiery crown illuminated,
Before her son-grown-man now elevated,
Unveiled--as Urania;
So much the sooner by him sighted,
The {lovelier,} from her now flown!
Thus sweet, thus happily delighted
Stood once Ulysses' noble son,
When she, divine, who shared his youth as partner,
Was then transfigured to Jove's daughter.

The dignity of Man into your hands is given,
Protector be!
It sinks with you! With you it is arisen!
The sacred magic of poetry
A world-plan wise is serving
To th'ocean, steer it e'er unswerving,
Of lofty harmony!

Fair Truth, by her own time rejected,
By Poetry now be protected,
And refuge find in the Muses' choir.
In highest and abundant splendor,
More fright'ning in her veil of wonder,
Then let her rise aloft in singing
And vengeance win with music ringing
Upon her persecutor's ear.

You free sons of the freest mother,
Swing upward with a constant face,
And strive then after no crown other,
To highest Beauty's beaming place.
The sisters who from here departed
In the mother's lap you soon will see;
What souls of beauty have imparted
Must excellent and perfect be.
Uplift yourselves on wings emboldened
Above your epoch's course be drawn;
See in your mirror now engoldened
The coming century's fair dawn.
On thousand twisting pathways chasing,
So rich in multiplicity,
Come forward, then, with arms embracing
Around the throne of unity.
As into gentle beams of seven
Divides the lovely shimmer white,
As also rainbow beams of seven
Dissolve into white beams of light--
So, play in thousandfolded clar'ty,
Enchanted 'round the heady sight,
So flow back in {one} band of ver'ty,
Into {one} single stream of light!

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The Glove

translated by Marianna Wertz

Before his lion court waiting,
The games anticipating,
King Francis sat,
And round him the kingdom's great powers,
And round on balcony towers
The ladies in fair ecagclat.

And as with finger he beckons,
A cage in the distance opens,
And inside with deliberate strides
A lion glides,
And without sound
Looks 'round,
With long yawns making
And his mane is shaking,
And his limbs he's plying,
And down is lying.

And the King further beck'ning,
There opens with ease
A second door,
From which flees
So wildly sprung out
A tiger to th' fore,
When he the lion espies,
Loud he cries,
Strikes with his tail
A frightening flail,
And sticks his tongue out,
And in circles shy
Round th' lion goes by
Fiercely purring,
He stretches out murm'ring
By his side lying.

At the King's further beck'ning,
Then speweth the twice-open'd house thereabout
Two savage leopards at once thereout,

They plunge forth with stout-hearted battle-lust
On the tiger beast,
He grasps them with his claws so ferocious,
And the lion with roar
Standeth upright, sounds no more,
And round in a knot,
From bloodlust hot,
Lay down the cats so atrocious.

Then falls from the terrace above,
From a beautiful hand a glove,
In between tiger and lion it lay
Just at midway.

And to Knight Delorges, mockingly
Turneth now Lady Cunigund daring,
“Sir Knight, if your love is so hot for me,
As you each hour to me are swearing,
Why, then get me my glove now back.”

And the knight in celerious tack
Climbeth down in the cage truly scaring,
With steady pacing,
And from the monstrous middle racing,
Grabs he the glove now with finger daring.

And with amazement and with horror
Knights and ladies all watch him with terror,
And the glove he returns without fear.
Then from every mouth his praises shower,
But to me the loving glance most dear--
Which promises him his bliss is near--
Receives he from Cunigund's tower.
And he throws in her face the glove he's got:
“Your thanks, Lady, I want that not,”
And he leaves her that very hour.

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The Pledge

--translated by Marianna Wertz and Paul Gallagher

"The Pledge" is one of Friedrich Schiller's (1759-1805) finest ballads—a form which uniquely unites narrative, lyric, and dramatic elements of poetry. Schiller and his fellow German Classical poet, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832), took such undiluted pleasure, as Goethe put it, "in romping about in the world of the ballads," that they called 1797, when Schiller wrote six major ballads, and Goethe five—including "The Cranes of Ibykus" (Schiller) and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Goethe)—the "year of the ballad." "The Pledge" came one year later. In composing these works, the poets sought to develop popular metaphors centered on anti-feudal, republican themes, with an eye to the failure of the French Revolution, and the need to elevate the minds of the European population, to be capable of making a successful, American-style revolution against oligarchism. But, as with all great poems, "The Pledge" places the reader in a dialogue with the great minds of human civilization on issues crucial its continuation and improvement, that transcends centuries. In this case, Schiller was, in fact, completing a project—the transformation into a "philosopher-king" of the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius—which Plato, as he recounts in his Seventh Letter, had attempted, but failed in.

In "The Pledge," Schiller draws on the Christian teaching that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend, to transform Dionysius from a tyrant, into a friend of liberty, thus demonstrating the power of love, or agape, to drive forward the process of revolutionary change.

Click to hear Marianna Wertz recite The Pledge

To Dionysius, the tyrant, would sneak
Damon, concealing a dagger;
He’s slapped by the guards in a fetter.
“What would you do with that dagger, speak!”
Demands the despot, his visage bleak.
“I would free the state from a tyrant!”
“For that, on the cross be repentant.”

“I am,” he replies, “ready to die
And do not beseech you to spare me,
But if you would show me mercy,
I ask you to let three days go by,
’Til my sister her marriage bonds may tie,
I’ll leave you my friend, in bondage,
If I flee, his life is hostage.”

The King then smiles with malice in his face,
And speaks after thinking just briefly:
“Three days I’ll give for your journey.
But beware! If you’ve used up your days of grace,
Before you’ve returned to me from that place,
Then he must to death be committed,
But your sentence will be remitted.”

And he comes to his friend: “The King bids, that I
Must pay by crucifixion
For my wrongful act of passion,
But he will let three days go by,
’Til my sister her marriage bonds may tie,
So stay as my pledge, ’til I hasten
Back to you, your bonds to unfasten.”

And the true friend embraces him silently
And goes to the tyrant in submission,
The other goes hence on his mission.
And before the sun rises upon the third day,
He quickly gives his sister in marriage away,
Hurries home, with anxious spirit,
That he stay not beyond the time limit.

Then the rain comes pouring down endlessly,
From the mountains the springs are rushing,
And the brooks and the streams are gushing.
To the bank with his wanderer’s staff comes he,
As the whirlpool is tearing the bridge away,
And the waves now break with a thunder
The arch of the vault asunder.

And hopeless he wanders the shore’s dark sand,
As widely as he scouts and gazes
And as loud as the cries he raises,
Here no boat puts out from safety’s strand,
Which brings him across to the wished-for land,
No skipper mans his station,
And the wild stream swells to an ocean.

Then he sinks on the shore and prays and cries,
His hands up to Zeus extended:
“O let the storm’s wrath be ended!
The hours are hastening, at midday lies
The sun, and if it leaves the skies,
And I cannot reach the city,
Then my friend must die without pity.”

But renewed, the rage of the storm does grow,
And wave upon wave goes racing,
And hour after hour is chasing.
His courage he seizes, his fear makes him go
And headlong he dives in the thundering flow
And cleaves, in a powerful fashion,
The flood, and a god has compassion.

And he wins the bank and runs from the flood
And thanks to the god he expresses,
When a band of robbers then presses
From out a nocturnal spot in the wood,
His pathway blocking, and snorts for his blood
And holds up the wanderer’s speeding
With threatening cudgels impeding.

“What do you want?” he cries, pale with fear,
“I’ve naught but my life to render,
Which I to the king must surrender!”
And he grabs the club from the one most near:
“For the sake of my friend be merciful here!”
And three, with a powerful beating
He slays, the others retreating.

And the sun glows hot as a burning brand,
And from all of the pains of his mission
He sinks to his knees in exhaustion.
“O you’ve saved me with mercy from robbers’ hand,
From out of the stream to the sacred land,
And shall I here languishing perish,
And my friend die for me, whom I cherish!”

And hark! there it purls silver-clear,
Quite close, like a rippling it rushes,
And to listen, he halts and hushes,
And see, from the rock ledge, now babbling near,
An ebullient fountain springs murmuring here,
And he joyfully kneels down and washes
And his burning limbs refreshes.

And the sunlight slants through the verdant trees
And paints on the glistening meadows
The forest’s gigantic shadows;
And two wanderers walking the road he sees,
He would hasten along as past them he flees,
Then he hears the words they are saying:
“Now him on the cross they are slaying.”

And now fear gives wings to his hastening gait,
Pangs of grief are him pursuing,
And i’th’ shimmering red o’th’ evening,
Distant Syracuse’ towers await,
And here Philostratus comes from its gate,
The household’s honest keeper,
Who with horror perceives his master:

“Go back! It’s too late to save your friend,
So save your own life, for the future!
Even now to death does he suffer.
Your return he awaited for hours on end,
To you his hopeful soul did bend,
With a faith too strong and valiant
To be robbed by the scorn of the tyrant.”

“And is it too late, and can I not lend
Him the hand of a welcome savior,
Then in death I’ll join him forever.
Let the bloody tyrant’s boasting end,
That the friend has broken his word to his friend,
Let him slaughter us two together
And believe in love and honor.”

And the sun now descends, by the gate he stands nigh
And sees the cross elevated,
Which the gaping crowd has awaited,
On the rope already his friend’s lifted high,
Through the thick of the throng he goes charging by:
“Me, hangman! Kill me!” he’s crying,
“I’m the one, for whom he is dying!”

And amazement seizes the people all round,
The two friends give each other embraces,
Tears of sorrow and joy wet their faces.
No eye without tears is there to be found,
And the wonderful tale to the king is then bound,
Humanely his feelings are shaken,
To his throne are they quickly then taken.

And long he regards them with wondering eye,
Then he speaks: “You have prospered,
My heart you now have conquered,
And true faith, ’tis no empty vanity,
So into your friendship’s bond take me,
I would, if allowed my intention,
Become the third in your union.”

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The Power of Song

translated by Daniel Platt

A stream of rain from fissured mountains,
It comes with thunder's vehemence,
A shattered peak pursues its fountains,
And oaks beneath it tumble hence;
Amazed, with dread anticipation,
The wanderer listens, and he harks,
He hears the roaring inundation,
Yet knows not, whence its rush embarks;
And so a wave of singing courses
From out of ne'er discovered sources.

In league with dreadful beings fabled,
That calmly weave life's fateful strands,
Who has the singer's spell disabled,
Who can his melodies withstand?
As if with Hermes' staff supernal,
So he commands the heart bestirred,
He dips it in the realms infernal,
He lifts it, dazzling, heavenward
And rocks the scale, 'twixt grave and merry
Where myriad emotions vary.

As if at once, into joy's sphere, it's
Gigantic stride comes instantly,
Mysteriously, like to spirits,
Intrudes a monstrous destiny.
Then bow the great ones of all nations
To the stranger from another world,
The din of idle jubilation
Is stilled, away the masks are hurled,
And 'fore the Truth's triumphal splendor
There flees each work that Lies engender.

Thus roused from all the empty rigors,
Whene'er the call of Song resounds,
A man becomes a soul transfigured,
And enters into holy grounds;
Unto the gods on high he's suited,
Naught earthly draws into his pale,
And every other power is muted,
And no misfortune may assail,
Each wrinkle born of worry dwindles,
Where reigns the magic Song enkindles.

And just as after hopeless yearning,
The bitter pain of years apart,
A child with tears remorseful burning
Will fall upon his mother's heart,
So back to childhood's habitations,
To innocent felicity,
From foreign ways of distant nations
The singing leads the refugee,
Away from frigid rules he races
To faithful Nature's warm embraces.

Posted by permission of the translator
© 1998

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The Ring of Polycrates

translated by Melanie Morris

He stood upon his castle’s turret,
He gazed out with delighted spirit
O’er mastered Samos down below.
“The whole of this to me is subject,”
Began he to the King of Egypt,
“That I am fortunate, avow.”

“Thou has enjoyed the godly favor!
Those formerly thine equals ever,
Bend now beneath thy sceptor’s might.
Yet one still lives, their vengeance seeking,
Thy bliss my lips cannot be speaking
So long the foeman’s eye has sight.”

And ere the King had barely ended,
A herald, from Miletus wended,
Before the tyrant made his bow.
“Let, Lord, arise the sweet oblation
And with the laurel’s gay vernation
Encircle now thy splendid brow.”

By spear thy foe was stricken under,
I’m with the happy news sent hither
By thy true Gen’ral Polydor—”
And taking from a black container,
Still bloody, to the both men’s terror,
A well-known head he brings to th’ fore.

The king steps back with trepidation:
“Trust not in fortune, thee I caution,”
Replies with anxious look to him.
“Reflect, upon the faithless welling,
How simply can the storm be quelling,
Thy fleet’s uncertain fortunes swim.”

And ere he has these words yet spoken,
His speech by jubilation’s broken,
Which from the port rejoicing blasts.
Beladen with their foreign riches,
Return now to their native beaches
The teeming wood of vessels’ masts.

The royal guest was much bewildered:
“Today thy fortune is good humored,
Yet fear thou its inconstancy.
The Grecian troops expert in weapon
With battle’s peril would thee threaten,
Already near this shore they be.”

And ere did he these words but utter,
One sees from out the ships now flutter,
A thousand voices: “Vic’try!” roar.
“From foe’s affliction we’re unfettered,
The Cretans by the storm are scattered,
’Tis over, ended is the war!”

With terror doth the guest-friend beckon:
“Indeed, thee fortunate I reckon,
Yet,” said he, “for thy good I shake.
Before gods’ envy I am frightful,
The joy of life so pure and rightful
Were not for mortals to partake.

“For me all things have also prospered,
In every kingly thing endeavored
The grace of heaven by me stayed;
Though once I had an heir to cherish,
God took from me, I saw him perish,
To fortune has my debt been paid.

“Thus, wouldst thou from all grief be shielded,
To the Unseen thy plea be wielded,
That they thy fortune lend some woe.
For saw I none yet ending happ’ly,
On whom with hands e’er laden fully
The gods their blessings do bestow.

“If this the gods have not conceded,
A friend’s advice then must be heeded
And call upon thyself this woe,
And from what out of all thy treasure
Thy heart derives the highest pleasure,
Take that and in this ocean throw.”

By fear persuaded speaks the other:
“Of all, that doth this island harbor,
My highest blessing is this ring.
To th’ Furies be it dedicated,
That my luck be exonerated.”
And in the flood the gem did fling.

And in the next day’s morning gleaming,
There strides forth with a visage beaming
A fisherman before the King:
“My Lord, this fish I have just captured,
As no more in my net have ventured,
It as a gift to thee I bring.”

And as the cook the fish was slashing,
Confounded comes he hither dashing
And with astonished look cries out:
“Look, Lord, the ring, which thou hast carried,
I found it in the fish maw buried,
O, limits hath thy fortune not!”

At this the guest turned ’round with horror:
“Thus here can I reside no longer,
My friend canst thou no longer be.
The gods thy ruination cherish,
Forth haste I, not with thee to perish.”
And spoke’t and swiftly sailed to sea.

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Shakespeare's Shade

--translated by Marianna Wertz
Notes on Shakespeare's Shade

Friedrich Schiller loved and learned from William Shakespeare, whom he honors in this poetic dialogue about the degeneration of classical drama. Schiller himself translated Shakespeare's Macbeth into German.

“Shakespeare's Shade” is written in the “monodistich” form, which is preserved in this translation. Schiller invented the form, and employedit in hundreds of epigrams, many of just two or four lines, as well as in some longer poems.

Schiller wrote an epigram titled “The Distich” to explain the meter, which, as he makes clear, has a natural rising and falling quality in the coupled lines, which is most suitable to short, humorous treatment of subjects, as well as to dialogue:

In hexameter climbs the fountain's affluent column.
|In pentameter then falls it melodically down.

Shakespeare's Shade

Finally I too saw the mighty Hercules' power,
That of his shade. For he, sadly, no more could be seen.
All around, like shrieks of a bird, tragedians are shrieking
And the dog-barking sound of dramaturgists round him.
Terrible stood the monstrous one there. His bow was extended
And the shaft on the string constantly struck at the heart.
``What more bold-spirited deed, unlucky one, dare you at present
To now descend by yourself to the deceased in the grave!''
'Tis for Tiresius I must go hence, to question the prophet,
Where ancient buskin I'd find, which is no more to be seen.
``If they believe not in Nature and Greece o'the ancients, then do you
Only in vain fetch dramaturgy there upwards for them.''
O it is Nature, shows up here again on our stages,
Starkly naked, that one might thereby count every rib.
``What? Then truly by you the old buskin is still to be sighted,
Which to fetch I myself climbed down to Tartarus' night?''
There's no more from this tragical ghost. But barely once yearly
Passes your fiery soul over the boards of the stage.
``That's good! Philosophy gave youemotions refinement
And 'fore the humor so gay flies black emotional state.''
Yes, there is nothing better than jest tat's unvarnished and robust,
But even sorrow does please, if it is oly but moist.
``Does one see then with you the nimbl dance of Thalia,*
Next to the solemn step with which Melomene* treads?''
Nothing of either! We only are stirred by he Christian and moral
And what is downright plain, homely and opular, too.
``What! No Caesar's permitted appearanceto make on your stages?
No Achilles, Orestes no more, no Andromea there?''
No! One sees with us only parsons, commercal advisers,
Officers, magistrates, those who lead calvary toops.
``But, I do beg you, my friend, to know whereinthen can this mis'ry
Greatness encounter, how then can what is greathappen through them?''
What? They fashion cabals and they lend on securties, they pilfer
Ladels of silver plate, venture the pill'ry and more.
``But then whence do you seize hold of destiny, great nd gigantic,
Which uplifts all mankind e'en as it grinds him to dust?'
'These are mere whim! Ourselves and our worthy compaions,
Our own sorrow and need, seek and discover right he
``But that you have with more comfort and better at home in your houses!
Why do you flee from yourselves, if it's yourselves that you seek?''
Don't mistake it, my hero, for that's a quite different question:
Destiny, it is blind, and is the poet e'er just.
``Therefore {your} wretched nature it is that one meets on your stages,
Only the great never there, only the infinite not?''
'Tis the poet's the host and the last act's always the reck'ning:
Whene'er depravity's sick, virtue sits down for the meal.

*Thalia: Muse of comedies and idyllic poetry
Melpomene: Muse of Tragedy

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Song of the Bell

(for more information about this
translation see Helga Zepp LaRouche's Fidelio Winter 1995 article)

-translated by Marianna Wertz

Walled up in the earth so steady
Burned from clay, the mould doth stand.
This day must the Bell be ready!
Fresh, O workmen, be at hand!
     From the heated brow
     Sweat must freely flow,
That the work may praise the Master,
Though the blessing comes from higher.

OUR WORK in earnest preparation,
Befitteth well an earnest word;
When joined by goodly conversation,
Then flows the labor briskly forw'd
So let us now with care consider,
What through a frail power springs forth:
The wicked man one must have scorn for,
Who ne'er reflects, what he brings forth.
This it is, what all mankind graceth,
And thereto his to understand,
That he in inner heart so traceth,
What he createth with his hand.
Take the wood from trunk of spruce tree,
Yet quite dry let it abide,
That the flame compressed so tightly
Strike the gullet deep inside!
     Cook the copper brew,
     Quick the tin in, too!
That the glutinous bell-metal
Flowing rightly then will settle!

WHAT IN the dam's dark cavern dour
The hand with fire's help did mould,
High in the belfry of the tower
There will our story loud be told.
Still will it last as years are tolling
And many ears will it inspire
And wail with mourners in consoling
And harmonize devotion's choir.
What here below to son terrestr'al
The ever-changing fate doth bring,
Doth strike the crown which made from metal,
Uplifting it doth sound its ring.

Bubbles white I see creating,
Good! the mass doth flow at last.
Now with potash permeating,
Let us hasten quick the cast.
And from lather free
Must the mixture be,
That from metal pure abounding
Pure and full the voice be sounding.

FOR WITH its joyful festive ringing
It doth the child beloved greet
On that first step his life is bringing,
Which starts in arms of slumber sweet;
For in the womb of time's attesting
His fortune black or bright is resting,
The mother's tender cares adorning
With love, to guard his golden morning.
The years they fly like arrows fleet.
From maiden breaks the lad so proudly,
And into life so wild doth roam,
Throughout the world he wanders widely.
As stranger, seeks his father's home,
And glorious, in youthful splendor,
Like creature from the heav'nly land,
With cheek so modest, shy and tender
Sees he the maid before him stand.
Then seized by nameless longing, aching,
The young lad's heart, alone he leaves,
From out his eyes the tears are breaking,
His brothers' ranks so wild he flees.
Her steps he blushingly doth follow
And is by her fair greeting blessed,
The fairest seeks he in the meadow,
With which by him his love is dressed.
Oh! gentle longing, sweetest hoping,
The first love's time of goldenness!
The eye doth see the heavens op'ning,
So feasts the heart in happiness
Oh! that it last forever greening,
The beaut'ous time of love's beginning!

How indeed the pipes are browning!
This small staff do I dip in:
When its glaze to us is shining,
Will the casting time begin.
Now, men, lively be!
Test the mix for me,
If the brittle with the nimble
Join together 'tis good symbol.

FOR WHERE the rough is with the supple,
Where strong itself with mild doth couple,
The ringing will be good and strong.
So test therefore, who join forever,
If heart to heart be found together!
Delusion is short, remorse is long.
In the bridal locks so lovely
Plays the virgin's modest crown,
When the churchbells pealing brightly
To the festive gleam call down.
Ah! Life's fairest celebrating
Doth the May of life end, too,
With the girdle, with the veiling
Tears delusion fair in two.

The passion doth fly.
Love must be enduring;
The flowers fade by,
Fruit must be maturing.
The man must go out
In hostile life living,
Be working and striving
And planting and making,
Be scheming and taking,
Through hazard and daring,
His fortune ensnaring.
Then streams in the wealth in an unending measure,
The silo is filled thus with valuable treasure,
The rooms are growing, the house stretches out.
And indoors ruleth
The housewife so modest,
The mother of children,
And governs wisely
In matters of family,
And maidens she traineth
And boys she restraineth,
And goes without ending
Her diligent handling,
And gains increase hence
With ordering sense.
And treasure on sweet-smelling presses is spreading,
And turns 'round the tightening spindle the threading,
And gathers in chests polished cleanly and bright
The shimmering wool, and the linen snow-white,
And joins to the goods, both their splendor and shimmer,
And resteth never.

And the father with joyful glance
From the house gable's view oh so vast
Surveying his fortune's enhance,
Seeth the posts of trees that are tow'ring
And the rooms of his barns o'erflowing
And the silos, bent low from the blessing,
And the billows of corn unceasing,
Boasting with haughty mouth:
"Firm, as the soil o' th' earth,
'Gainst all misfortune's pow'r
Splendid my house doth tow'r!"—
Yet with mighty fate supernal
Is entwined no bond eternal,
And misfortune strideth fast.

Good! now be the cast beginning,
Finely jagged is the breach.
Yet before it start to running,
Let us pious verses preach.
Make the tap eject!
God our house protect!
Smoking in the handle's hollow
Shoots with fire-brownéd billow.

BENEF'CENT is the might of flame,
When o'er it man doth watch, doth tame,
And what he buildeth, what he makes,
For this the heav'nly powers he thanks;
Yet fright'ning Heaven's pow'r will be,
When from its chains it doth break free,
Embarking forth on its own track,
Nature's daughter, free alack.
Woe, when it is liberated
Growing such that none withstand,
Through the alleys populated
Rolls the monstrous firebrand!
For by elements is hated
The creation of man's hand.
From the heavens
Blessing's teeming,
Rain is streaming;
From the heavens, unforeseen,
Strikes the beam!
Hear in belfry whimpers form!
That is storm!
Red as blood
Heavens broil,
That is not the daylight's flood!
What a turmoil
In the roads!
Steam explodes!
Climbs the fire column glowing,
Through the streets' long rows it's going
Forth it goes with wind's speed growing,
As in jaws of ovens cooking
Glows the air, the beams are cracking,
Pillars tumble, windows quav'ring,
Children wailing, mothers wand'ring,
Whimp'ring cattle
Under rubble,
All is running, saving, flying,
Bright as day the night is shining.
Through long chain of hands, not resting
As contesting
Flies the bucket, lofty bowing
Spouts the fountain, water flowing.
Howling comes the storm a-flying,
Which doth seek the roaring flames.
Crackling in the well-dried grains,
Falls it, in the roomy silo,
On the wood of rafters hollow,
And as if it would by blowing
With itself the earth's full weight
Drag it, in its vi'lent flight,
Into Heaven's summit growing
Giant tall!
HopeleSs all
Yields the man 'fore God's great powers,
Idle sees he all his labors
And amazed to ruin going.

All burnt out
Is the setting,
Of the savage storm's rough bedding;
In the empty window op'ning
Horror's living,
And high Heaven's clouds are giving
Looks within.

Just one peek
To the ashes
Of his riches
Doth the man behind him seek
His wanderer's staff then gladly seizes.
Whatever fire's rage has cost,
One solace sweet is e'er unmovéd:
He counts the heads of his belovéd
And see! not one dear head is lost.

In the earth it is receivéd
Full the mould is happ'ly made;
Will its beauty be perceivéd,
So be toil and art repaid?
Should the cast not take?
Should the moulding break?
Ah! perhaps, whilst we are hoping,
Harm is us already gripping.

To HOLY earth's e'er-dark'ning bosom
Do we entrust our hands' true deed,
The sower doth entrust his seed
And hopes, indeed, that it will blossom
To bless, as Heaven bath decreed.
Still costlier the seed we've buried
With sorrow in the womb of earth
And hope, that from the coffin carried
'Twill bloom to fairer fortune forth.

From cathedral,
Anxious, long,
Bell is sounding
Funeral song.
Earnestly its doleful toll doth carry
Some new wanderer on the final journey.

Ah! the wife it is, the dear one,
Ah! it is the faithful mother,
Whom the swarthy Prince of Shadeland
Carries off from arm of husband,
From the group of children dear,
Whom she blooming to him bare,
Whom she on her breast so true
Watched with pleasure as they grew—
Ah! the bonds of home so giving
Will forevermore be loose,
For in shadowland she's living,
Who was mother of the house,
For her faithful rule now ceases,
No more keepeth watch her care,
Henceforth in the orphaned places
Rules the foreign, loveless e'er.

Till the Bell be cooly laying,
Let no stringent work ensue;
As the bird in leaves is playing,
May each person goodly do.
Nods the starlit sky, Duty's all foreby,
Hears the lad the vespers sounding,
For the Master toil's abounding.

BRISKLY hastens he his paces
Far in forest wild the wand'rer,
To the lovely cottage-places.
Bleating homeward draws the sheep herd,
And the cattle
Broad-foreheaded, flocks so glossy,
Come in lowing
To accustomed stalls they're going.
Heav'ly in
Shakes the wagon,
Colored brightly
On sheaves sightly
Garlands lie,
And the young folk of the reapers
Dancing fly.
Street and market-place grow stiller,
Round the social flame of lighting
Gather those in household dwelling,
And the town gate closes creaking.
Black bedighted
All the earth be
Yet the burgher is affrighted
Not by night,
Which the wicked has excited,
For the watchful law's clear eye keeps sight.

Holy Order, blesséd richly,
Heaven's daughter, equals has she
Free and light and glad connected,
City buildings hath erected,
Who herein from country dwelling
The uncivil savage calling,
Ent'ring into human houses,
Gentler custom she espouses,
With the dearest band she's bound us,
Love for fatherland weaves round us.

Thousand busy hands in motion
Help in cheerful unity,
And in fiery commotion
Will all forces public be.
Master and the men take action
Under freedom's holy care,
Each is pleased with his position,
Scorn for every scoffer share.
Work's the burgher's decoration,
Labor's prize is to be blest;
Honor kings by royal station,
Busy hands us honor best.

Peace so gentle,
Charming concord,
Tarry, tarry
Friendly o'er this city be!
May the day be ne'er appearing,
When the rugged hordes a-warring
Through this quiet vale are storming,
When the heavens,
Which the evening's blushes pretty
Paint so fine,
From the village, from the city
Wildly burning frightful shine!

Now for me break up the building,
Its intent is filled a-right,
That our hearts and eyes he feasting
On the most successful sight. Swing the hammer, swing,
'Til the mantle spring!
If the Bell be now awoken,
Be the frame in pieces broken-

THE MASTER can break up the framing
With wisen'd hand, at rightful hour,
But woe, whene'er in brooks a-flaming
Doth free itself, the glowing ore!
Blind-raging with the crash of thunder,
It springs from out the bursted house,
And as from jaws of hell asunder
Doth spew its molten ruin out;
Where senseless powers are commanding,
There can no structure yet be standing,
When peoples do themselves set free,
There can no common welfare be.

Woe, when in womb of cities growing,
In hush doth pile the fiery match,
The people, chains from off it throwing,
Doth its own help so frightful snatch!
There to the Bell, its rope-cord pulling,
Rebellion, doth it howling sound
And, hallowed but for peaceful pealing,
To violence doth strike aloud.

Liberty, Equality! Men hear sounding,
The tranquil burgher takes up arms,
The streets and halls are all abounding,
And roving, draw the murd'ring swarms;
Then women to hyenas growing
Do make with horror jester's art,
Still quiv'ring, panther's teeth employing,
They rip apart the en'my's heart.
Naught holy is there more, and cleaving
Are bonds of pious modesty,
The good its place to bad is leaving,
And all the vices govern free.
To rouse the lion, is dang'rous error,
And ruinous is the tiger's bite,
Yet is most terrible the terror
Of man in his deluded state.
Woe's them, who heaven's torch of lighting
Unto the ever-blind do lend!
It lights him not, 'tis but igniting,
And land and towns to ash doth rend.

Joy unto me God hath given!
See there! like a golden star
From its husk, so blank and even,
Peeleth out the metal core.
From the crown to base Like the bright sun plays,
And escutcheons' decoration
Builder's skill gives commendation.

COME IN! Come in!
Ye workmen all, do come ye close in,
That we commence the Bell to christen,
Concordia its name be given,
To concord, in an intimate communion,
The loving commons gathers she in union.

And be her purpose thus fulfilled,
For which the Master did her build:
On high above low earthly living,
Shall she in heav'n's blue tent unfurl'd,
Be thunder's neighbor, ever-pending,
And border on the starry world,
A single voice from high she raises
Like constellations' band so bright,
Which its creator wand'ring praises,
And leads the wreathéd year a-right.
Alone to grave, eternal singing
Her metal mouth be consecrate,
And hourly with all swiftness winging,
Shall she be moved by time in flight,
Her tongue to destiny is lending,
Herself has heart and pity not,
With nothing but her swing attending
The game of life's e'er-changing lot.
And as the ring in ears is passing
Sent by her mighty sounding play,
So let her teach, that naught is lasting,
That all things earthly fade away.

Now with rope's full power bringing
Rock the Bell from vault with care,
That she in the realm of ringing
Rises, in the Heavens' air.
     Pull ye, pull ye, heave!
     She doth move, doth wave.
Joy be she this city bringing,
Peace be the first chime she's ringing.

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