Friedrich von Schiller |
Friend!--the Great Ruler, easily content,
Needs not the laws it has laborious been
The task of small professors to invent;
A single wheel impels the whole machine
Matter and spirit;--yea, that simple law,
Pervading nature, which our Newton saw.
This taught the spheres, slaves to one golden rein,
Their radiant labyrinths to weave around
Creation's mighty hearts: this made the chain,
Which into interwoven systems bound
All spirits streaming to the spiritual sun
As brooks that ever into ocean run!
Did not the same strong mainspring urge and guide
Our hearts to meet in love's eternal bond?
Linked to thine arm, O Raphael, by thy side
Might I aspire to reach to souls beyond
Our earth, and bid the bright ambition go
To that perfection which the angels know!
Happy, O happy--I have found thee--I
Have out of millions found thee, and embraced;
Thou, out of millions, mine!--Let earth and sky
Return to darkness, and the antique waste--
To chaos shocked, let warring atoms be,
Still shall each heart unto the other flee!
Do I not find within thy radiant eyes
Fairer reflections of all joys most fair?
In thee I marvel at myself--the dyes
Of lovely earth seem lovelier painted there,
And in the bright looks of the friend is given
A heavenlier mirror even of the heaven!
Sadness casts off its load, and gayly goes
From the intolerant storm to rest awhile,
In love's true heart, sure haven of repose;
Does not pain's veriest transports learn to smile
From that bright eloquence affection gave
To friendly looks?--there, finds not pain a grave?
In all creation did I stand alone,
Still to the rocks my dreams a soul should find,
Mine arms should wreathe themselves around the stone,
My griefs should feel a listener in the wind;
My joy--its echo in the caves should be!
Fool, if ye will--Fool, for sweet sympathy!
We are dead groups of matter when we hate;
But when we love we are as gods!--Unto
The gentle fetters yearning, through each state
And shade of being multiform, and through
All countless spirits (save of all the sire)--
Moves, breathes, and blends, the one divine desire.
Lo! arm in arm, through every upward grade,
From the rude mongrel to the starry Greek,
Who the fine link between the mortal made,
And heaven's last seraph--everywhere we seek
Union and bond--till in one sea sublime
Of love be merged all measure and all time!
Friendless ruled God His solitary sky;
He felt the want, and therefore souls were made,
The blessed mirrors of his bliss!--His eye
No equal in His loftiest works surveyed;
And from the source whence souls are quickened, He
Called His companion forth--ETERNITY!
Friedrich von Schiller |
I, too, at length discerned great Hercules' energy mighty,--
Saw his shade.
He himself was not, alas, to be seen.
Round him were heard, like the screaming of birds,
the screams of tragedians,
And, with the baying of dogs, barked dramaturgists around.
There stood the giant in all his terrors; his bow was extended,
And the bolt, fixed on the string, steadily aimed at the heart.
"What still hardier action, unhappy one, dost thou now venture,
Thus to descend to the grave of the departed souls here?"--
"'Tis to see Tiresias I come, to ask of the prophet
Where I the buskin of old, that now has vanished, may find?"
"If they believe not in Nature, nor the old Grecian, but vainly
Wilt thou convey up from hence that dramaturgy to them.
"Oh, as for Nature, once more to tread our stage she has ventured,
Ay, and stark-naked beside, so that each rib we count.
"What? Is the buskin of old to be seen in truth on your stage, then,
Which even I came to fetch, out of mid-Tartarus' gloom?"--
"There is now no more of that tragic bustle, for scarcely
Once in a year on the boards moves thy great soul, harness-clad.
"Doubtless 'tis well! Philosophy now has refined your sensations,
And from the humor so bright fly the affections so black.
"Ay, there is nothing that beats a jest that is stolid and barren,
But then e'en sorrow can please, if 'tis sufficiently moist.
"But do ye also exhibit the graceful dance of Thalia,
Joined to the solemn step with which Melpomene moves?"--
"Neither! For naught we love but what is Christian and moral;
And what is popular, too, homely, domestic, and plain.
"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles, appear on your stage now,
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! there is naught to be seen there but parsons,
and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse.
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly called great?--what that is great can they do?"
"What? Why they form cabals, they lend upon mortgage, they pocket
Silver spoons, and fear not e'en in the stocks to be placed.
"Whence do ye, then, derive the destiny, great and gigantic,
Which raises man up on high, e'en when it grinds him to dust?"--
"All mere nonsense! Ourselves, our worthy acquaintances also,
And our sorrows and wants, seek we, and find we, too, here.
"But all this ye possess at home both apter and better,--
Wherefore, then, fly from yourselves, if 'tis yourselves that ye seek?"
"Be not offended, great hero, for that is a different question;
Ever is destiny blind,--ever is righteous the bard.
"Then one meets on your stage your own contemptible nature,
While 'tis in vain one seeks there nature enduring and great?"
"There the poet is host, and act the fifth is the reckoning;
And, when crime becomes sick, virtue sits down to the feast!"
Friedrich von Schiller |
Forever fair, forever calm and bright,
Life flies on plumage, zephyr-light,
For those who on the Olympian hill rejoice--
Moons wane, and races wither to the tomb,
And 'mid the universal ruin, bloom
The rosy days of Gods--With man, the choice,
Timid and anxious, hesitates between
The sense's pleasure and the soul's content;
While on celestial brows, aloft and sheen,
The beams of both are blent.
Seekest thou on earth the life of gods to share,
Safe in the realm of death?--beware
To pluck the fruits that glitter to thine eye;
Content thyself with gazing on their glow--
Short are the joys possession can bestow,
And in possession sweet desire will die.
'Twas not the ninefold chain of waves that bound
Thy daughter, Ceres, to the Stygian river--
She plucked the fruit of the unholy ground,
And so--was hell's forever!
The weavers of the web--the fates--but sway
The matter and the things of clay;
Safe from change that time to matter gives,
Nature's blest playmate, free at will to stray
With gods a god, amidst the fields of day,
The form, the archetype , serenely lives.
Would'st thou soar heavenward on its joyous wing?
Cast from thee, earth, the bitter and the real,
High from this cramped and dungeon being, spring
Into the realm of the ideal!
Here, bathed, perfection, in thy purest ray,
Free from the clogs and taints of clay,
Hovers divine the archetypal man!
Dim as those phantom ghosts of life that gleam
And wander voiceless by the Stygian stream,--
Fair as it stands in fields Elysian,
Ere down to flesh the immortal doth descend:--
If doubtful ever in the actual life
Each contest--here a victory crowns the end
Of every nobler strife.
Not from the strife itself to set thee free,
But more to nerve--doth victory
Wave her rich garland from the ideal clime.
Whate'er thy wish, the earth has no repose--
Life still must drag thee onward as it flows,
Whirling thee down the dancing surge of time.
But when the courage sinks beneath the dull
Sense of its narrow limits--on the soul,
Bright from the hill-tops of the beautiful,
Bursts the attained goal!
If worth thy while the glory and the strife
Which fire the lists of actual life--
The ardent rush to fortune or to fame,
In the hot field where strength and valor are,
And rolls the whirling thunder of the car,
And the world, breathless, eyes the glorious game--
Then dare and strive--the prize can but belong
To him whose valor o'er his tribe prevails;
In life the victory only crowns the strong--
He who is feeble fails.
But life, whose source, by crags around it piled,
Chafed while confined, foams fierce and wild,
Glides soft and smooth when once its streams expand,
When its waves, glassing in their silver play,
Aurora blent with Hesper's milder ray,
Gain the still beautiful--that shadow-land!
Here, contest grows but interchange of love,
All curb is but the bondage of the grace;
Gone is each foe,--peace folds her wings above
Her native dwelling-place.
When, through dead stone to breathe a soul of light,
With the dull matter to unite
The kindling genius, some great sculptor glows;
Behold him straining, every nerve intent--
Behold how, o'er the subject element,
The stately thought its march laborious goes!
For never, save to toil untiring, spoke
The unwilling truth from her mysterious well--
The statue only to the chisel's stroke
Wakes from its marble cell.
But onward to the sphere of beauty--go
Onward, O child of art! and, lo!
Out of the matter which thy pains control
The statue springs!--not as with labor wrung
From the hard block, but as from nothing sprung--
Airy and light--the offspring of the soul!
The pangs, the cares, the weary toils it cost
Leave not a trace when once the work is done--
The Artist's human frailty merged and lost
In art's great victory won! 
If human sin confronts the rigid law
Of perfect truth and virtue , awe
Seizes and saddens thee to see how far
Beyond thy reach, perfection;--if we test
By the ideal of the good, the best,
How mean our efforts and our actions are!
This space between the ideal of man's soul
And man's achievement, who hath ever past?
An ocean spreads between us and that goal,
Where anchor ne'er was cast!
But fly the boundary of the senses--live
The ideal life free thought can give;
And, lo, the gulf shall vanish, and the chill
Of the soul's impotent despair be gone!
And with divinity thou sharest the throne,
Let but divinity become thy will!
Scorn not the law--permit its iron band
The sense (it cannot chain the soul) to thrall.
Let man no more the will of Jove withstand ,
And Jove the bolt lets fall!
If, in the woes of actual human life--
If thou could'st see the serpent strife
Which the Greek art has made divine in stone--
Could'st see the writhing limbs, the livid cheek,
Note every pang, and hearken every shriek,
Of some despairing lost Laocoon,
The human nature would thyself subdue
To share the human woe before thine eye--
Thy cheek would pale, and all thy soul be true
To man's great sympathy.
But in the ideal realm, aloof and far,
Where the calm art's pure dwellers are,
Lo, the Laocoon writhes, but does not groan.
Here, no sharp grief the high emotion knows--
Here, suffering's self is made divine, and shows
The brave resolve of the firm soul alone:
Here, lovely as the rainbow on the dew
Of the spent thunder-cloud, to art is given,
Gleaming through grief's dark veil, the peaceful blue
Of the sweet moral heaven.
So, in the glorious parable, behold
How, bowed to mortal bonds, of old
Life's dreary path divine Alcides trod:
The hydra and the lion were his prey,
And to restore the friend he loved to-day,
He went undaunted to the black-browed god;
And all the torments and the labors sore
Wroth Juno sent--the meek majestic one,
With patient spirit and unquailing, bore,
Until the course was run--
Until the god cast down his garb of clay,
And rent in hallowing flame away
The mortal part from the divine--to soar
To the empyreal air! Behold him spring
Blithe in the pride of the unwonted wing,
And the dull matter that confined before
Sinks downward, downward, downward as a dream!
Olympian hymns receive the escaping soul,
And smiling Hebe, from the ambrosial stream,
Fills for a god the bowl!
Friedrich von Schiller |
No! I this conflict longer will not wage,
The conflict duty claims--the giant task;--
Thy spells, O virtue, never can assuage
The heart's wild fire--this offering do not ask
True, I have sworn--a solemn vow have sworn,
That I myself will curb the self within;
Yet take thy wreath, no more it shall be worn--
Take back thy wreath, and leave me free to sin.
Rent be the contract I with thee once made;--
She loves me, loves me--forfeit be the crown!
Blessed he who, lulled in rapture's dreamy shade,
Glides, as I glide, the deep fall gladly down.
She sees the worm that my youth's bloom decays,
She sees my spring-time wasted as it flees;
And, marvelling at the rigor that gainsays
The heart's sweet impulse, my reward decrees.
Distrust this angel purity, fair soul!
It is to guilt thy pity armeth me;
Could being lavish its unmeasured whole,
It ne'er could give a gift to rival thee!
Thee--the dear guilt I ever seek to shun,
O tyranny of fate, O wild desires!
My virtue's only crown can but be won
In that last breath--when virtue's self expires!
Friedrich von Schiller |
Thou in truth shouldst be one, yet not with the whole shouldst thou be so.
'Tis through the reason thou'rt one,--art so with it through the heart.
Voice of the whole is thy reason, but thou thine own heart must be ever;
If in thy heart reason dwells evermore, happy art thou.
Friedrich von Schiller |
Hark where the bells toll, chiming, dull and steady,
The clock's slow hand hath reached the appointed time.
Well, be it so--prepare, my soul is ready,
Companions of the grave--the rest for crime!
Now take, O world! my last farewell--receiving
My parting kisses--in these tears they dwell!
Sweet are thy poisons while we taste believing,
Now we are quits--heart-poisoner, fare-thee-well!
Farewell, ye suns that once to joy invited,
Changed for the mould beneath the funeral shade;
Farewell, farewell, thou rosy time delighted,
Luring to soft desire the careless maid,
Pale gossamers of gold, farewell, sweet dreaming
Fancies--the children that an Eden bore!
Blossoms that died while dawn itself was gleaming,
Opening in happy sunlight never more.
Swanlike the robe which innocence bestowing,
Decked with the virgin favors, rosy fair,
In the gay time when many a young rose glowing,
Blushed through the loose train of the amber hair.
Woe, woe! as white the robe that decks me now--
The shroud-like robe hell's destined victim wears;
Still shall the fillet bind this burning brow--
That sable braid the Doomsman's hand prepares!
Weep ye, who never fell-for whom, unerring,
The soul's white lilies keep their virgin hue,
Ye who when thoughts so danger-sweet are stirring,
Take the stern strength that Nature gives the few!
Woe, for too human was this fond heart's feeling--
Feeling!--my sin's avenger doomed to be;
Woe--for the false man's arm around me stealing,
Stole the lulled virtue, charmed to sleep, from me.
Ah, he perhaps shall, round another sighing
(Forgot the serpents stinging at my breast),
Gayly, when I in the dumb grave am lying,
Pour the warm wish or speed the wanton jest,
Or play, perchance, with his new maiden's tresses,
Answer the kiss her lip enamored brings,
When the dread block the head he cradled presses,
And high the blood his kiss once fevered springs.
Thee, Francis, Francis, league on league, shall follow
The death-dirge of the Lucy once so dear;
From yonder steeple dismal, dull, and hollow,
Shall knell the warning horror on thy ear.
On thy fresh leman's lips when love is dawning,
And the lisped music glides from that sweet well--
Lo, in that breast a red wound shall be yawning,
And, in the midst of rapture, warn of hell!
Betrayer, what! thy soul relentless closing
To grief--the woman-shame no art can heal--
To that small life beneath my heart reposing!
Man, man, the wild beast for its young can feel!
Proud flew the sails--receding from the land,
I watched them waning from the wistful eye,
Round the gay maids on Seine's voluptuous strand,
Breathes the false incense of his fatal sigh.
And there the babe! there, on the mother's bosom,
Lulled in its sweet and golden rest it lay,
Fresh in life's morning as a rosy blossom,
It smiled, poor harmless one, my tears away.
Deathlike yet lovely, every feature speaking
In such dear calm and beauty to my sadness,
And cradled still the mother's heart, in breaking,
The softening love and the despairing madness.
"Woman, where is my father?" freezing through me,
Lisped the mute innocence with thunder-sound;
"Woman, where is thy husband?"--called unto me,
In every look, word, whisper, busying round!
Alas, for thee, there is no father's kiss;--
He fondleth other children on his knee.
How thou wilt curse our momentary bliss,
When bastard on thy name shall branded be!
Thy mother--oh, a hell her heart concealeth,
Lone-sitting, lone in social nature's all!
Thirsting for that glad fount thy love revealeth,
While still thy look the glad fount turns to gall.
In every infant cry my soul is hearkening,
The haunting happiness forever o'er,
And all the bitterness of death is darkening
The heavenly looks that smiled mine eyes before.
Hell, if my sight those looks a moment misses--
Hell, when my sight upon those looks is turned--
The avenging furies madden in thy kisses,
That slept in his what time my lips they burned.
Out from their graves his oaths spoke back in thunder!
The perjury stalked like murder in the sun--
Forever--God!--sense, reason, soul, sunk under--
The deed was done!
Francis, O Francis! league on league shall chase thee
The shadows hurrying grimly on thy flight--
Still with their icy arms they shall embrace thee,
And mutter thunder in thy dream's delight!
Down from the soft stars, in their tranquil glory,
Shall look thy dead child with a ghastly stare;
That shape shall haunt thee in its cerements gory,
And scourge thee back from heaven--its home is there!
Lifeless--how lifeless!--see, oh see, before me
It lies cold--stiff--O God!--and with that blood
I feel, as swoops the dizzy darkness o'er me
Mine own life mingled--ebbing in the flood--
Hark, at the door they knock--more loud within me--
More awful still--its sound the dread heart gave!
Gladly I welcome the cold arms that win me--
Fire, quench thy tortures in the icy grave!
Francis--a God that pardons dwells in heaven--
Francis, the sinner--yes--she pardons thee--
So let my wrongs unto the earth be given
Flame seize the wood!--it burns--it kindles--see!
There--there his letters cast--behold are ashes--
His vows--the conquering fire consumes them here
His kisses--see--see--all are only ashes--
All, all--the all that once on earth were dear!
Trust not the roses which your youth enjoyeth,
Sisters, to man's faith, changeful as the moon!
Beauty to me brought guilt--its bloom destroyeth
Lo, in the judgment court I curse the boon
Tears in the headsman's gaze--what tears?--'tis spoken!
Quick, bind mine eyes--all soon shall be forgot--
Doomsman--the lily hast thou never broken?
Pale Doomsman--tremble not!
Friedrich von Schiller |
Ye in the age gone by,
Who ruled the world--a world how lovely then!--
And guided still the steps of happy men
In the light leading-strings of careless joy!
Ah, flourished then your service of delight!
How different, oh, how different, in the day
When thy sweet fanes with many a wreath were bright,
O Venus Amathusia!
Then, through a veil of dreams
Woven by song, truth's youthful beauty glowed,
And life's redundant and rejoicing streams
Gave to the soulless, soul--where'r they flowed
Man gifted nature with divinity
To lift and link her to the breast of love;
All things betrayed to the initiate eye
The track of gods above!
Where lifeless--fixed afar,
A flaming ball to our dull sense is given,
Phoebus Apollo, in his golden car,
In silent glory swept the fields of heaven!
On yonder hill the Oread was adored,
In yonder tree the Dryad held her home;
And from her urn the gentle Naiad poured
The wavelet's silver foam.
Yon bay, chaste Daphne wreathed,
Yon stone was mournful Niobe's mute cell,
Low through yon sedges pastoral Syrinx breathed,
And through those groves wailed the sweet Philomel,
The tears of Ceres swelled in yonder rill--
Tears shed for Proserpine to Hades borne;
And, for her lost Adonis, yonder hill
Heard Cytherea mourn!--
Heaven's shapes were charmed unto
The mortal race of old Deucalion;
Pyrrha's fair daughter, humanly to woo,
Came down, in shepherd-guise, Latona's son
Between men, heroes, gods, harmonious then
Love wove sweet links and sympathies divine;
Blest Amathusia, heroes, gods, and men,
Equals before thy shrine!
Not to that culture gay,
Stern self-denial, or sharp penance wan!
Well might each heart be happy in that day--
For gods, the happy ones, were kin to man!
The beautiful alone the holy there!
No pleasure shamed the gods of that young race;
So that the chaste Camoenae favoring were,
And the subduing grace!
A palace every shrine;
Your sports heroic;--yours the crown
Of contests hallowed to a power divine,
As rushed the chariots thundering to renown.
Fair round the altar where the incense breathed,
Moved your melodious dance inspired; and fair
Above victorious brows, the garland wreathed
Sweet leaves round odorous hair!
The lively Thyrsus-swinger,
And the wild car the exulting panthers bore,
Announced the presence of the rapture-bringer--
Bounded the Satyr and blithe Faun before;
And Maenads, as the frenzy stung the soul,
Hymned in their maddening dance, the glorious wine--
As ever beckoned to the lusty bowl
The ruddy host divine!
Before the bed of death
No ghastly spectre stood--but from the porch
Of life, the lip--one kiss inhaled the breath,
And the mute graceful genius lowered a torch.
The judgment-balance of the realms below,
A judge, himself of mortal lineage, held;
The very furies at the Thracian's woe,
Were moved and music-spelled.
In the Elysian grove
The shades renewed the pleasures life held dear:
The faithful spouse rejoined remembered love,
And rushed along the meads the charioteer;
There Linus poured the old accustomed strain;
Admetus there Alcestis still could greet; his
Friend there once more Orestes could regain,
More glorious than the meeds
That in their strife with labor nerved the brave,
To the great doer of renowned deeds
The Hebe and the heaven the Thunderer gave.
Before the rescued rescuer  of the dead,
Bowed down the silent and immortal host;
And the twain stars  their guiding lustre shed,
On the bark tempest-tossed!
Art thou, fair world, no more?
Return, thou virgin-bloom on Nature's face;
Ah, only on the minstrel's magic shore,
Can we the footstep of sweet fable trace!
The meadows mourn for the old hallowing life;
Vainly we search the earth of gods bereft;
Where once the warm and living shapes were rife,
Shadows alone are left!
Cold, from the north, has gone
Over the flowers the blast that killed their May;
And, to enrich the worship of the one,
A universe of gods must pass away!
Mourning, I search on yonder starry steeps,
But thee no more, Selene, there I see!
And through the woods I call, and o'er the deeps,
And--Echo answers me!
Deaf to the joys she gives--
Blind to the pomp of which she is possessed--
Unconscious of the spiritual power that lives
Around, and rules her--by our bliss unblessed--
Dull to the art that colors or creates,
Like the dead timepiece, godless nature creeps
Her plodding round, and, by the leaden weights,
The slavish motion keeps.
To-morrow to receive
New life, she digs her proper grave to-day;
And icy moons with weary sameness weave
From their own light their fulness and decay.
Home to the poet's land the gods are flown,
Light use in them that later world discerns,
Which, the diviner leading-strings outgrown,
On its own axle turns.
Home! and with them are gone
The hues they gazed on and the tones they heard;
Life's beauty and life's melody:--alone
Broods o'er the desolate void, the lifeless word;
Yet rescued from time's deluge, still they throng
Unseen the Pindus they were wont to cherish:
All, that which gains immortal life in song,
To mortal life must perish!
Friedrich von Schiller |
"Do I believe," sayest thou, "what the masters of wisdom would teach me,
And what their followers' band boldly and readily swear?
Cannot I ever attain to true peace, excepting through knowledge,
Or is the system upheld only by fortune and law?
Must I distrust the gently-warning impulse, the precept
That thou, Nature, thyself hast in my bosom impressed,
Till the schools have affixed to the writ eternal their signet,
Till a mere formula's chain binds down the fugitive soul?
Answer me, then! for thou hast down into these deeps e'en descended,--
Out of the mouldering grave thou didst uninjured return.
Is't to thee known what within the tomb of obscure works is hidden,
Whether, yon mummies amid, life's consolations can dwell?
Must I travel the darksome road? The thought makes me tremble;
Yet I will travel that road, if 'tis to truth and to right.
Friend, hast thou heard of the golden age? Full many a story
Poets have sung in its praise, simply and touchingly sung--
Of the time when the holy still wandered over life's pathways,--
When with a maidenly shame every sensation was veiled,--
When the mighty law that governs the sun in his orbit,
And that, concealed in the bud, teaches the point how to move,
When necessity's silent law, the steadfast, the changeless,
Stirred up billows more free, e'en in the bosom of man,--
When the sense, unerring, and true as the hand of the dial,
Pointed only to truth, only to what was eternal?
Then no profane one was seen, then no initiate was met with,
And what as living was felt was not then sought 'mongst the dead;
Equally clear to every breast was the precept eternal,
Equally hidden the source whence it to gladden us sprang;
But that happy period has vanished! And self-willed presumption
Nature's godlike repose now has forever destroyed.
Feelings polluted the voice of the deities echo no longer,
In the dishonored breast now is the oracle dumb.
Save in the silenter self, the listening soul cannot find it,
There does the mystical word watch o'er the meaning divine;
There does the searcher conjure it, descending with bosom unsullied;
There does the nature long-lost give him back wisdom again.
If thou, happy one, never hast lost the angel that guards thee,
Forfeited never the kind warnings that instinct holds forth;
If in thy modest eye the truth is still purely depicted;
If in thine innocent breast clearly still echoes its call;
If in thy tranquil mind the struggles of doubt still are silent,
If they will surely remain silent forever as now;
If by the conflict of feelings a judge will ne'er be required;
If in its malice thy heart dims not the reason so clear,
Oh, then, go thy way in all thy innocence precious!
Knowledge can teach thee in naught; thou canst instruct her in much!
Yonder law, that with brazen staff is directing the struggling,
Naught is to thee.
What thou dost, what thou mayest will is thy law,
And to every race a godlike authority issues.
What thou with holy hand formest, what thou with holy mouth speakest,
Will with omnipotent power impel the wondering senses;
Thou but observest not the god ruling within thine own breast,
Not the might of the signet that bows all spirits before thee;
Simple and silent thou goest through the wide world thou hast won.
Friedrich von Schiller |
Mournful groans, as when a tempest lowers,
Echo from the dreary house of woe;
Death-notes rise from yonder minster's towers!
Bearing out a youth, they slowly go;
Yes! a youth--unripe yet for the bier,
Gathered in the spring-time of his days,
Thrilling yet with pulses strong and clear,
With the flame that in his bright eye plays--
Yes, a son--the idol of his mother,
(Oh, her mournful sigh shows that too well!)
Yes! my bosom-friend,--alas my brother!--
Up! each man the sad procession swell!
Do ye boast, ye pines, so gray and old,
Storms to brave, with thunderbolts to sport?
And, ye hills, that ye the heavens uphold?
And, ye heavens, that ye the suns support!
Boasts the graybeard, who on haughty deeds
As on billows, seeks perfection's height?
Boasts the hero, whom his prowess leads
Up to future glory's temple bright!
If the gnawing worms the floweret blast,
Who can madly think he'll ne'er decay?
Who above, below, can hope to last,
If the young man's life thus fleets away?
Joyously his days of youth so glad
Danced along, in rosy garb beclad,
And the world, the world was then so sweet!
And how kindly, how enchantingly
Smiled the future,--with what golden eye
Did life's paradise his moments greet!
While the tear his mother's eye escaped,
Under him the realm of shadows gaped
And the fates his thread began to sever,--
Earth and Heaven then vanished from his sight.
From the grave-thought shrank he in affright--
Sweet the world is to the dying ever!
Dumb and deaf 'tis in that narrow place,
Deep the slumbers of the buried one!
Brother! Ah, in ever-slackening race
All thy hopes their circuit cease to run!
Sunbeams oft thy native hill still lave,
But their glow thou never more canst feel;
O'er its flowers the zephyr's pinions wave,
O'er thine ear its murmur ne'er can steal;
Love will never tinge thine eye with gold,
Never wilt thou embrace thy blooming bride,
Not e'en though our tears in torrents rolled--
Death must now thine eye forever hide!
Yet 'tis well!--for precious is the rest,
In that narrow house the sleep is calm;
There, with rapture sorrow leaves the breast,--
Man's afflictions there no longer harm.
Slander now may wildly rave o'er thee,
And temptation vomit poison fell,
O'er the wrangle on the Pharisee,
Murderous bigots banish thee to hell!
Rogues beneath apostle-masks may leer,
And the bastard child of justice play,
As it were with dice, with mankind here,
And so on, until the judgment day!
O'er thee fortune still may juggle on,
For her minions blindly look around,--
Man now totter on his staggering throne,
And in dreary puddles now be found!
Blest art thou, within thy narrow cell!
To this stir of tragi-comedy,
To these fortune-waves that madly swell,
To this vain and childish lottery,
To this busy crowd effecting naught,
To this rest with labor teeming o'er,
Brother!--to this heaven with devils--fraught,
Now thine eyes have closed forevermore.
Fare thee well, oh, thou to memory dear,
By our blessings lulled to slumbers sweet!
Sleep on calmly in thy prison drear,--
Sleep on calmly till again we meet!
Till the loud Almighty trumpet sounds,
Echoing through these corpse-encumbered hills,
Till God's storm-wind, bursting through the bounds
Placed by death, with life those corpses fills--
Till, impregnate with Jehovah's blast,
Graves bring forth, and at His menace dread,
In the smoke of planets melting fast,
Once again the tombs give up their dead!
Not in worlds, as dreamed of by the wise,
Not in heavens, as sung in poet's song,
Not in e'en the people's paradise--
Yet we shall o'ertake thee, and ere long.
Is that true which cheered the pilgrim's gloom?
Is it true that thoughts can yonder be
True, that virtue guides us o'er the tomb?
That 'tis more than empty phantasy?
All these riddles are to thee unveiled!
Truth thy soul ecstatic now drinks up,
Truth in radiance thousandfold exhaled
From the mighty Father's blissful cup.
Dark and silent bearers draw, then, nigh!
To the slayer serve the feast the while!
Cease, ye mourners, cease your wailing cry!
Dust on dust upon the body pile!
Where's the man who God to tempt presumes?
Where the eye that through the gulf can see?
Holy, holy, holy art thou, God of tombs!
We, with awful trembling, worship Thee!
Dust may back to native dust be ground,
From its crumbling house the spirit fly,
And the storm its ashes strew around,--
But its love, its love shall never die!
Friedrich von Schiller |
See how, like lightest waves at play, the airy dancers fleet;
And scarcely feels the floor the wings of those harmonious feet.
Ob, are they flying shadows from their native forms set free?
Or phantoms in the fairy ring that summer moonbeams see?
As, by the gentle zephyr blown, some light mist flees in air,
As skiffs that skim adown the tide, when silver waves are fair,
So sports the docile footstep to the heave of that sweet measure,
As music wafts the form aloft at its melodious pleasure,
Now breaking through the woven chain of the entangled dance,
From where the ranks the thickest press, a bolder pair advance,
The path they leave behind them lost--wide open the path beyond,
The way unfolds or closes up as by a magic wand.
See now, they vanish from the gaze in wild confusion blended;
All, in sweet chaos whirled again, that gentle world is ended!
No!--disentangled glides the knot, the gay disorder ranges--
The only system ruling here, a grace that ever changes.
For ay destroyed--for ay renewed, whirls on that fair creation;
And yet one peaceful law can still pervade in each mutation.
And what can to the reeling maze breathe harmony and vigor,
And give an order and repose to every gliding figure?
That each a ruler to himself doth but himself obey,
Yet through the hurrying course still keeps his own appointed way.
What, would'st thou know? It is in truth the mighty power of tune,
A power that every step obeys, as tides obey the moon;
That threadeth with a golden clue the intricate employment,
Curbs bounding strength to tranquil grace, and tames the wild enjoyment.
And comes the world's wide harmony in vain upon thine ears?
The stream of music borne aloft from yonder choral spheres?
And feel'st thou not the measure which eternal Nature keeps?
The whirling dance forever held in yonder azure deeps?
The suns that wheel in varying maze?--That music thou discernest?
No! Thou canst honor that in sport which thou forgettest in earnest.