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Heinrich Heine Revisited

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Author's Notes:  "Heinrich Heine Revisited," is a narrative quatrain poem that I've been wanting to write for quite some time.  I actually have detailed author's notes embedded below in the text of the poem itself which explain certain prominent points I highlighted with asterisks, vice traditional footnotes, so the reader can refer to the explanatory information relevant to the poem.  With this poem, I hope I can heighten your interest to possibly read some of Heine's poetry -- if some of you "Soupers" have not done so already.  As I hope you'll see from my poem here, Heine is one of the great German poets who made invaluable contributions to German literature during the nineteenth-century.  He is associated with the "Romanticism" movement that originated in Europe and experienced its zenith during the first half of the nineteenth-century.  (Gary Bateman - December 15, 2014) (Narrative Quatrain poetic format)   

Categories:  history, international, lyric, philosophy, poems, poets, and political.

I can clearly sense your utter despair of Der Matratzengruft* As you valiantly carried on your poetic works to the very end. This did not change your literary accomplishments well-known, And your courage through the misery and morphine* is undeniable. Your lyrical poetry speaks volumes among all of German literature, And it was most marvelously set to music by the likes of Schumann, Schubert, Silcher, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Strauss—to name a few. Their melodic tones as applied to your verses then, now live on forever! Your role in and principal contributions to Romanticism fall in line With the highest quality of your poetic language and its intention. Your role in battling early nineteenth-century censorship in Prussia set You out front of many of your contemporaries who resisted much less. It’s so tragic Herr Heine that your literary resistance so prominent in Challenging Prussian censorship would make you ever so more noted, And besmirched as the Nazis in 1933 burned your books and those of Other German scholars as a reflection of their insane and twisted beliefs! It’s with great irony indeed that the banning and burning of your works by The Nazis was parodied further by them as they ignobly quoted and used Your famous line from “Almansor,”* when you likened that “where books Are burned, in the end people will be burned too.” We know what they did! And so, with both honor and sadness I do understand the very cry of lament From the confines of your mattress-grave about your final exquisite poetry, Written through writhing pain and tears as you faced the end of your life. It took great courage to face your end like this while staying true to your Muse! Gary Bateman, Copyright © All Rights Reserved (December 15, 2014) (Narrative Quatrain poetic format) AUTHOR’S NOTES: *Der Matratzengruft from the German means “The Mattress-Grave.” (Heinrich Heine was confined to his bed, his “mattress-grave,” in 1848 with various illnesses until his eventual death eight years later in 1856.) *Heine poetically referred to his pain predicament in the poem “Morphine,” written near the end of his life, when he noted in two famous verses: “Gut is der Schlaf, der Tod ist besser—freilich / Das beste waere, nie Geboren sein.” (In English: “Sleep is good, Death is better—of course, / Best of all would be never to have been born.”) *Almansor was a play written by Heine in 1821 that had a most famous line in German: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Buecher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” (Rendered in English: “That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.”) The significance here is that as the Nazis burned the books of Heine and other German artists on the Opernplatz in Berlin in 1933, they actually celebrated this event by “engraving” Heine’s famous words from “Almansor” in the ground at the Opernplatz site. The obvious depravity of this terrible event reflects the innate cruelty, stupidity and evil of the Nazis as they burned the books and defiled the names and reputations of Heine and other famous German writers. Their actions were monstrous and shameful, and were indicative of mankind’s base instincts at their very worst. Moreover, despite converting to Protestantism from Judaism in 1825, Heine’s Jewish origins played a continuing presence in his life and were one of the major factors for his being scapegoated by the Nazis later in 1933. And besides, the Nazis were always more interested in burning books, rather than reading them!

Copyright © | Year Posted 2014




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Date: 4/28/2017 1:38:00 AM
It's a very touching poem, with historical anecdotes. It is very deep and prophetic.
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Gary Bateman
Date: 4/28/2017 10:29:00 AM
Hello Joseph, Thanks very much for your kinds words and for your read of Heinrich Heine Revisited. I am really glad that you enjoyed it!! Best Wishes, Gary
Date: 12/18/2014 3:32:00 PM
So much has been lost to the cruelty and greed of the Nazi's. This is a wonderful tribute to Heine.
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/18/2014 4:49:00 PM
ML, Amen!! Glad to hear this. You touched on exactly the right point. Heine was the very first German poet I studied years ago in the USA when I first started studying the German language. Many years ago I had the idea to eventually write something about him. Now as a practicing poet and professional writer, I've fulfilled that wish!! Best Always, Gary
Date: 12/18/2014 10:58:00 AM
This is an important write Gary a fav for me.
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/18/2014 4:45:00 PM
Maurice, Thanks so much! I'm very glad you liked it and made it a FAV. Heinrich Heine was indeed a most significant lyrical poet, much on par with Goethe and Schiller. I touched on the book burning theme since this reflects a blatant example of our fellow man at his very worst!! With my wife being German and my strong affectation for the language -- this really hits a nerve with me!! May it never happen again!! Best Always, Gary
Date: 12/17/2014 3:38:00 AM
outstanding piece of writing gary loved reading this pal
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/17/2014 7:28:00 PM
Thanks Liam Mate so much!! Cheers, Gary
Date: 12/16/2014 11:16:00 AM
Ich Weiss nicht, was soll es bedeauten. One of my favourite songs. Great tribute Gary.
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/16/2014 2:47:00 PM
Brenda!! "Die Lorelei" was the very first poem dass ich auswendig in Hoch Schule (Gymnasium) gelernt habe in den USA!! My very first German course was in 1966. I can still recite that poem today auf deutsch most perfectly!! It too is one of my favorite songs indeed!! I'm pleased you liked the tribute here to Heinrich Heine. Best Wishes Brenda to you and your family and Frohe Weihnachten!! Gary
Date: 12/16/2014 5:18:00 AM
An admirable poet Heine is especially for the fact that although he was suffering he produced masterpieces! Congratulations to you my dearest friend, Gary, for bringing to our attention, with your superb presentation such a fine personality. Suffering is the source of wisdom Aeschylus, the ancient Greek poet of the 5th century BC tells us and Homer, the Greek poet, 8th BC, underlies the fact it is better to die as soon as possible! Thank you for bringing such quality work to us! A seven!
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/16/2014 2:54:00 PM
Demetrios!! Thanks so much here for your read and review of my poem on Heine. I was always most intrigued with him years ago in America when I first studied the German language. Being also a historian, propels me to look at literature and poetry (in specific) from a historical perspective!! I like your reference here to Aeschylus and Homer too. This poem will be in my book for sure. Besten Dank! und Frohe Weihnachten! Gary
Date: 12/16/2014 3:24:00 AM
“That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.” I can connect it to Fahrenheit 451 of Ray Bradbury. I have read Rilke in translation but not Heinrich Heine but I must read and I will.Gut is der Schlaf, der Tod ist besser—freilich / Das beste waere, nie Geboren sein.Who can forget these lines. To your poem.. it is a most engrossing tribute ..Love Gary Ingrid....your friend RAJAT
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Gary Bateman
Date: 12/16/2014 4:11:00 AM
Rajat My Dear Friend, Thank you so much for your thorough review of my poetic effort here. This one is not the normal standard fare poem one normally sees on PoetrySoup. (I expect few people to comment on this one. It will, of course, be in my upcoming book this next Spring.) I know both Bradbury and Rilke quite well. I'm glad I piqued your curiosity about Heine!! Best, Gary