13. 12. 1797 - 13. 12. 2017

Website created on occasion of the 220th anniversary

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers

 

 

HEINRICH HEINE

important
Poet and passionate patriot,
Enemy of absolutism and the feudal-clerical
Reaction, champion of a democratic
German literature; close
Friend of the Marx family.

 

While he's internationally regarded as one of Germany's greatest poets, his countrymen have struggled to come to terms with the "difficult poet," as he is often referred to.

Heine's poignant critiques of his homeland clouded his reputation in Germany for many years. The beauty of his poems -- many of which have been set to music -- even defeated the Nazis, who included some of them in national collections while burning Heine's other works.

 

Heinrich Heine was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, to assimilated Jewish parents. Heine’s uncle was a powerful banker who supported Heine for much of his life, only to write him out of his will. Heine attended university in Bonn, Göttingen, and Berlin, ostensibly studying law but in truth focusing his efforts and attention on poetry and literature. Because of repressive anti-Jewish laws, Heine converted to Protestantism in an effort to secure a job. His experiences of persecution at the hands of an anti-Semitic state meant that, even as Heine took part in the German Romantic movement, his poetry is widely seen as inaugurating the post-Romantic crisis, wherein art was seen as insufficient to overcome the traumas of modernity. Heine’s poetry draws on Romantic tropes and language, but discovers again and again how such conventions are in fatal tension with reality. His poetry is often suspicious of the Romantic materials with which it’s made.

Heine wrote both poetry and prose. His famous collection Die Buch der Lieder (The Book of Songs) (1827), was written in the wake of disappointed love affairs with two of his younger cousins. In 1824, Heine traveled to the Harz mountains. He fictionalized the adventure in Die Harzreise (The Harz Journey) and followed it with four more Reisebilder (Pictures of Travel) (1826-31). These works, with their blend of fact and fiction, autobiography and social criticism, helped secure Heine’s literary reputation. His final collection Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand (Ideas. The Book Le Grand) (1827) was conceived as a travelogue of his journey into himself.

After the July Revolution of 1830, Heine went to Paris, where he remained until his death. Though ultimately skeptical of utopian philosophies, Heine was attracted by the French utopian philosopher Saint-Simon. Heine wrote many penetrating newspaper articles about the cultural and political situation in France, which he collected in Franösische Zustände (French Affairs) (1832). He also wrote two books of social criticism aimed at Germany: Die Romantische Schule (The Romantic School) (1833-35) and Zur Geschicte der Relgion und Philosophie in Deutschland (On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany) (1834-35).

Heine’s second volume of poems, Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1844), included many satirical attacks on German Romanticism as well as a series of politically engaged verse that had first appeared in Karl Marx’s newspaper Vorwärts (Forward). The satirical mode dominated this period of Heine’s career: after a trip to Germany in 1843 he penned the long satirical poem Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (Germany. A Winter's Tale); growing disillusioned with utopianism, he wrote Atta Troll: Ein Sommernachtstraum (Atta Troll: A Midsummer Night's Dream) (1847).

Heine’s last years were unhappy: by 1835, his works had been banned by the German government. His uncle died in 1844, leaving Heine destitute. And in 1848, Heine was bed-ridden with the disease that would claim his life ten years later. Before his death he returned to writing lyric poetry. The lyrics, collected in Romanzero (1851) and Gedichte 1853 und 1854 (Poems: 1853 and 1854), are considered to be the finest poems he ever wrote. Heine is buried in the cemetery at Montmarte in Paris.

 

Works of Heinrich Heine

 

HEINRICH HEINE

 

 

The Prose and Poetical Works

VOLUME I - XII

VOLUME XIII - XX

(collection of Volumes)

* * *

(single Volumes)

VOLUME I

VOLUME III

VOLUME IV

VOLUME V

VOLUME VI

VOLUME VII

VOLUME VIII

VOLUME XII

 

 

 

POEMS

(complete)

 

 

 

POEMS AND BALLADS

 

 

 

Selections of the Poetical Work

 

 

Book of Songs

 

 

Religion and Philosophy in Germany

 

 

Pictures of Travel

 

 

HEINRICH HEINE'S MUSICAL
FEUILLETONS

 

 

Memoirs of Heinrich Heine

 

 

 

Heinrich Heine

 

A Winter's Tale

Farewell, Paris, beloved town!
I am leaving you today;
From your abundance of delights,
I turn and go away.

The German heart within my breast
Is suddenly ailing;
There’s but one doctor, in the North,
Who’ll cure it without failing.

His cures are famous, his cures are fast,
They are world-wide renowned;
Yet, I confess, I already dread
The mixtures he will compound.

Farewell, merry people of France!
Farewell, jolly brothers of mine!
A foolish yearning drives me away,
But I will be back in no time.

Just think, I miss the smell of peat!
It pains me to live without
The dear sheep of Lüneburg’s heath,
Turnip dishes and sauerkraut.

I long for tobacco-smell, councillors,
Watchmen, even coarse creatures,
I long for northern dialect, black bread
And blond-haired daughters of preachers.

I long for seeing my mother too!
A fact, I too often admit.
I haven’t seen the old Lady
For thirteen years, since I last quit.

Farewell my wife, my lovely wife!
You cannot grasp how I grieve.
I press you firmly to my heart,
And yet, I have to leave.

This painful yearning drives me away,
Away from you, o sweetest fate!
I need to breathe German air again,
Or else, I’ll suffocate.

The ache, the anguish, this pressing need
Heat up, they painfully compound.
My feet itch with impatient urge,
To set foot on German ground.

By the end of the year, I’ll be back
From Germany, all cured and sound,
And then I’ll buy you a New Year gift,
The loveliest, that could be found.

 

CAPUT II

While the little girl trilled and warbled
Of Heaven’s eternal pleasures,
The Prussian customs searched my trunk,
Looking for hidden treasures.

They sniffed everything, rummaged through
Shirts, pants and handkerchiefs, for hidden
Needle-point lace or for gems,
And for books that were forbidden.

You fools that search inside my trunk!
There’s nothing for you to find:
The contraband that travels with me,
Is hidden in my mind.

Needle-point lace is there, much finer
Than Brussels or Mecheln laces,
And once my needles are unpacked,
They’ll pick and scratch your faces!

And precious gems are there too,
The future era’s crown-jewels,
The temple-gems of the great Unknown,
The coming God of renewals.

And many books I carry in my head!
Let this be clearly stated:
My head is a twittering nest of books,
Of books to be confiscated.

Believe me, there could be nothing worse
In any library, not even of the Devil;
Hoffmann von Fallersleben himself
Never wrote anything more evil!

A passenger who stood by me,
Took the time to explain
That this was the Prussian “ Zollverein”,
The mighty customs chain.

The Zollverein, he explained,
Will be our people’s foundation;
It will change the divided fatherland
Into a united nation.

It will give us the external unity,
A unity that is real and material;
The Censor gives us the unity of spirit,
In reality, the most ideal.

He gives us internal unity,
Unity in thought and in feelings;
We need a united Germany to rule
Our outward and inward dealings.

 

CAPUT III

Carolus Magnus lies buried
Under Aachen’s old Dome.
(Don’t mix up with Karl Mayer,
Who has Swabia as his home)

I wouldn’t like to be a buried Kaiser,
Lying in Aachen’s cathedral forever;
I’d much rather live as the littlest poet
In Stuttgart, by the Neckar river.

The Aachen’s street-dogs are so bored,
That, with servility, they’re imploring:
Give us a kick, stranger and perhaps,
Life will not be so boring.

I strolled about in that boring hole,
For an hour, or so, altogether;
I saw the Prussian soldiers once more:
They’re still the same as ever:

Grey coats, with the high blood-red collars
Is still the dress of these henchmen.
( Könner sang in former days:
Red is for the blood of Frenchmen)

They are still that wooden pedantic lot:
With stiff right angles, they pace,
And the same old arrogance
Remains frozen on their face.

And still, they strut about as stiff
As a candle, straight upright,
As if they’d swallowed the stick,
Formerly used to put them right.

Yes, the sticks have never quite disappeared:
Deep inside, old habits still exist:
Inside the new glove of humane ways,
There is still an iron fist.

In truth, the long moustache is just
The pig-tail’s newer phase:
The pig-tail that used to hang behind
Hangs under their nose, nowadays.

I liked the cavalry’s new costume;
To praise it would only be right,
Especially the impressive spike-helmet,
With its point of steel upright.

This is chivalric, reminding
The past, noble and romantic,
The Lady Jane of Montfaucon,
The Barons Fouqué, Uhland and Tieck.

It reminds of pages and noblemen,
Of those fine middle-ages years,
Who carried loyalty in their hearts
And a coat of arms on their rears.

It reminds of crusades and tournaments,
When men were noble-hearted,
Of the age of faith with no print,
Before the first press was started.

Yes, yes, I like this helmet,
It springs from the highest wit!
A royal notion it was indeed:
It has even a point to spike it!

My only fear, in case of storm,
The sky will be drawn by your spike,
And, straight upon your romantic head,
The most modern lightning will strike!

Also, should war ever break out,
A lighter head cover you will need;
For, heavy middle-ages helmets,
Your running from battle may impede.

On Aachen’s post-office coat of arms,
I saw the bird, most detested.
With a most poisonous glare,
His eyes, upon me, rested.

You hateful bird, if it so happens
That you fall in my hands one day,
I will pluck each of your feathers,
And I will chop your claws away.

I’ll set you up, high in the air,
As a target, on a perch, then
I’ll invite for a jolly shooting match
All the Rhineland’s huntsmen.

With sceptre and crown I shall reward
He who the bird’s downfall will bring.
The worthy fellow! A fanfare will blow
And we shall cry: “Long live the King! “

CAPUT IV

It was getting late as I reached Cologne,
I could hear the Rhine river flowing,
I was caressed by German air
And felt its influence growing

On my appetite. I ate
A ham omelette, which was fine,
But as it was rather salty,
I had to wash it down with wine.

Still in the green glass, like gold,
The Rhine-wine brightly glows,
And should you drink it in excess,
It begins to tickle your nose!

So sweet a tickling climbs to your nose,
The sensation grows fonder and fonder!
It drove me out in the darkening night,
Through the echoing streets to wander.

And as I walked, I thought I heard
The ancient houses of stone
Recounting tales of long gone days,
The legends of holy Cologne:

Here upon-a-time, the clergy
Once lived and thrived in pious ways,
Here, as described by von Hutten,
Obscure men ruled, in former days,

And here, the nuns and monks once danced
The cancan of the Middle-Ages,
Here, Hochstraaten, the Menzel of Cologne
Wrote his poisonous, denunciatory pages.

Here men and books were burnt at the stake
And, by its flames were swallowed,
Meanwhile the bells merrily rang
And a “ Kyrie Eleison “followed.

Stupidity and malice here,
Like street-dogs, used to mate.
One can still tell their progeny today
By their sectarian hate.

But see! In the clear moonshine there,
That mighty colossus of stone!
He towers upward, so devilish black:
The cathedral of Cologne.

It was meant to be the mind’s Bastille,
And the papist plan was clever:
In the huge vaults they would lock
The German reason forever!

Then Luther came and said: ‘no more!’
With power, with conviction,
And since that day, there came and end
To the Cathedral’s erection.

It was never completed- a good thing!
For its very non-termination
Is a monument to German strength
And the Protestant reformation.

Poor wretches of the Cathedral Trust,
With powerless hands, you have risen
To continue the interrupted work
And complete the old tower-prison!

O foolish illusion! It’s all in vain
When your alms-bags hungrily shake:
Begging of heretics, even of Jews,
Is but a fruitless and vain mistake.

In vain will the great Franz Liszt play
To raise the cathedral’s donations,
In vain will a talented king make
Imploring declamations!

The cathedral won’t be completed,
Even though Swabian fools will send
A whole ship, loaded with stones,
To bring its building to an end.

It won’t be completed, regardless
How wild owls and ravens may yell,
Since those birds with old-fashioned minds,
On high church-towers like to dwell.

Indeed, it is possible that some day,
Instead of completing it outright,
The inner rooms may serve as a stable
For horses- quite and unholy sight!

And should the cathedral becomes a stable,
We’ll have a question to tackle:
What will become of the three holy kings,
Who rest in the tabernacle?

That is the question. But do we need
To bother solve it this very day?
The three holy kings from the East
Must find somewhere else to stay.

Take my advice and stick them all
In Münster’s three iron cages
That have hung high from the tower
Of St Lambert’s church for ages.

Once, the Taylor-Kings and his councillors,
Sat each, in a separate cage.
We must use the baskets now
For kings of a different age.

We’ll set Lord Balthasar on the right,
On the left, Lord Melchior, swinging,
Lord Gaspar in between- God knows
How they were set, when living!

The holy alliance of the East,
Even though canonised today,
May not have always behaved
In a just and pious way.

Balthasar and Melchior must have been fools,
Who searched an easy solution
When their people became demanding,
And promised them a constitution,

Then failed to deliver. And the Moorish king
Gaspar, with black ingratitude
Rewarded his people- such fools!
For their trusting attitude.

CAPUT V

And when I reached the Rhine-bridge,
Where stands the harbour bastion,
There, in the moonlight, I could see
The father Rhine flowing on.

“Greetings to you, old father Rhine,
Tell me, how have things been going?
I have often thought of you,
With deep yearning and longing”

Thus I spoke. From the watery depths
Came a voice, strangely moaning,
Like an old man’s coughing,
A grumbling and a groaning.

“Welcome, my boy, that you still remember,
Renders me so pleased and so glad!
I haven’t seen you in thirteen years,
Meanwhile, my affairs have gone bad.

At Bieberich, I swallowed some stones,
They were hardly tasty, at best.
Yet, the verses of Niklas Becker
Are much harder to digest.

He sang me as if I still were
The purest virgin in town,
Who would never let anyone lift
Her little honour’s crown.

Whenever I hear this stupid song,
I begin to feel so weird:
I feel like drowning myself in myself,
Or tearing my old white beard!

The French know better than anyone
That I am not a virgin anymore:
They mixed so often in the past
Their victorious waters on my shore.

What a stupid song! What a stupid chap!
I am now shamelessly despised,
And, in a certain way, I am
Politically compromised.

For, should the French ever come back,
With shame, my cheeks will burn,
I who so often tearfully prayed
That one day they may return.

Those darling little Frenchmen!
For them I’ve always had a soft spot.
Do they still were white pants?
Do they still a sing and spring a lot?

I’d really love to see them again,
Yet, I’m afraid I could be hurt
On account of this accursed song
And the mocking that would result.

Alfred de Musset, that guttersnipe
Would come at their head, I fear;
Perhaps as a drummer boy, he’ll drum
His nasty jokes into my ear.”

Thus poor father Rhine complained.
Insecure, o how he must have suffered!
And, in order to raise his sinking heart,
These comforting words, I uttered:

"O fear not, dear father Rhine,
The nasty jokes that come from France;
These French are not the French of old,
They even wear different pants.

Their pants are red and no longer white,
New buttons are now on display,
They sing no more, they spring no more,
But hang their heads in a nostalgic way.

They’re thinkers now: Kant, Fichte, Hegel
Are the subjects of their talking;
They smoke tobacco, they guzzle beer
And many even go bowling.

They’ve become philistines, just like us
And carry this change to extremes:
They’ve started to follow Hengstenberg,
Voltaire is out, or so it seems.

It is true that Alfred de Musset
A guttersnipe remains;
But fear not that vile tongue of his:
We’ll tie it up in chains.

And if he drums you an evil joke,
We’ll whistle back uglier airs,
We’ll whistle aloud what happened to him,
Mixing in pretty women’s affairs.

Cheer up, old father Rhine,
Those evil songs treat with disdain,
You’ll soon hear a better song,
Farewell, until we meet again.”

CAPUT VI

With Paganini always came
A “Spiritus familiaris”,
Now in the shape of a dog, and now
In the shape of the late George Harris.

Napoleon saw a crimson man
Before every serious event;
Socrates had his daemons too:
Not the sort that he’d invent.

I myself, when sitting at my desk,
At night, often happened to see
A muffled form of a guest,
Mysteriously standing behind me.

Underneath his cloak he held,
Strangely shining, something concealed,
An axe, an executioner’s axe,
Or so, to my eyes, it seemed.

He appeared of stocky build,
Like two stars, his eyes shone brightly;
He never disturbed my writing,
He only kept his distance quietly.

For years this singular visitor
Has been leaving me alone,
Suddenly I find him here, once more,
In the still moonlight of Cologne.

I strolled thoughtfully along the streets,
And right behind me, he came,
Just like my shadow, and if I stopped,
He would stop, just the same.

He remained riveted in his tracks,
With some sort of expectant air;
And when I hurried, he would follow,
Till we reached the Cathedral square.

I could no longer take it! I turned
And said: I need an explanation!
Why do you follow, me step for step,
Here, in this nightly desolation?

I always meet you in the hour
When cosmic feelings are dashing
Across my breast, and through my brain
Wild inspirations are flashing.

You stare at me in such a piercing way!
Speak: What is it that you hide,
That glints there, behind you cloak?
Who are you, what’s on your mind?

But he replied with the driest of tones,
One would say, almost phlegmatic:
“Please do not exorcise me,
And do not behave emphatic!

I am no ghost of the past, no scarecrow,
Out of a grave arising.
I am not inclined to rhetoric,
Nor do much philosophising.

I am of a practical nature,
Calm, silent and resolute.
But know: What your mind conceives,
I will always execute.

And though many years may go by,
I’ll find no satisfaction
Until thoughts become reality:
You think, and I take action.

You are the judge, I am the bailiff:
Like a servant you trust,
I execute the judgment you pass,
Be it right or unjust.

In Rome of old, before the consul,
They bore an axe. Let me remind
You: you too have a lictor, but now
The axe is carried from behind.

I am your lector, and I march
With a well polished axe
Behind you: your current thoughts
Will be my future acts.”

CAPUT VIII

went back home and slept as if
Angels sang into my head.
One rests so soft in a German bed,
For it is a featherbed.

O how often, through my nights in exile,
For a soft German bed I yearned,
When laying on hard mattresses,
I sleeplessly tossed and turned!

In featherbeds like ours,
One sleeps and dreams so well.
Here, the German soul is freed
From its earthly cell.

It feels so free, it soars upwards
To heaven’s highest realms.
O German soul, how proud is your flight
During your nightly dreams!

When you approach, the gods grow pale!
And your wing-beats, so far,
Have brushed out of the way
Many a rising star.

The Russians and the French held the land,
The British rule the seas,
But our sway is uncontested
In the airy realm of dreams.

Here we enjoy hegemony,
Here fully united, we stand.
Other nations have developed
Upon firm and level land.

And as I fell asleep, I had a dream:
Once more, I was strolling alone
In the moonlight of the echoing streets,
In the oldest part of Cologne.

And, once more, behind me came
My dark masked companion.
I was so tired, my strength was failing,
And yet, we kept walking on.

On we went! Within my breast,
An open wound was gaping,
And, from the depth of my wound,
Red droplets were escaping.

Sometimes I dipped my fingers in,
And at times I would spread
Over the doorposts, as I went by,
A sign of bloody red.

And every time I marked a house
In such a manner, there fell,
Faint, whimpering and nostalgic,
The far sound of a tolling bell.

And in the sky the moon grew pallid,
Its gleaming was receding,
And over her, like horses black,
The wild clouds were speeding.

And still at my back there marched,
Together with his hidden axe,
That dark figure. We went for a while,
Without stopping to relax.

We kept walking till at last we reached
The Cathedral square once more;
We went straight to the Cathedral,
Trough a wide-open door.

Only silence, darkness and death
Reigned in that enormous room.
Hanging lamps burned here and there,
To better highlight the gloom.

I wandered long along the pillars,
And there was no sound to hear
But the paces of my companion,
Hanging closely on my rear.

At last we arrived at a place,
Where sparked a bright candle,
Where gold glinted and gemstones shone:
This was the three Kings chapel.

The three kings who normally laid there,
So still, so unmoved for ages,
O wonder! They now sat upright
Upon their sarcophagus.

Three skeletons, in fabulous array,
With sceptres in their bony hands,
And over their dried, bony skulls
Rested the crowns of Eastern lands.

They moved their long-dead bones
As if puppets they were.
A smell of incense and mildew
Arose and fouled the air.

One of them moved his mouth
And delivered a dissertation,
Explaining why he is entitled to
My respectful admiration:

Firstly, because he was dead,
Next, he was a king, no less,
And thirdly, a saint. On the whole,
There wasn’t much to impress.

I assured him with a laugh:
Your plea has no effect:
I see you belong to the past,
In every respect.

Go away! Back to where you belong!
To your deep grave, go back to sleep.
Your chapel and all its treasure
Are now for life to take and keep.

The future’s merry cavalry,
In this cathedral should be housed,
And if you’re not willing, I’ll use force:
I’ll club you till you’re deloused!

Thus I spoke; I turned around
And saw the fearsome glint
Of my mute companion’s fearsome axe;
He understood my hint.

He stepped up and with his axe
Started his work of demolition:
With one blow, he ruthlessly smashed
The poor skeletons of superstition.

Grimly reverberated through all the vaults,
The echo of his stroke.
Streams of blood shot from my heart,
And suddenly, I awoke.

CAPUT VIII

The fare from Cologne to Hagen costs
Five Prussian thalers six groschen.
As the coach was full, I had to use
The trailer that was open.

The coach-wheels ploughed in mud,
In a late autumn morning dark and grey;
A sense of well-being pulsed through me,
Despite the bad weather and the way.

It is the air of home again,
That my glowing cheek could feel!
Even the filth on the country-roads
Carried my fatherland’s appeal!

Like old acquaintances greeting,
The horse’s tails cordially swung.
Atalanta’s apples appeared as fair
As their little cakes of dung!

We passed through Mühlheim. The town is fine,
The people are hardworking and quiet.
In May of eighteen thirty one,
Was the last time I came by it.

Everything then was blooming and bright,
The sunlight was laughing then,
The birds sang, full of longing,
There were hoping and thinking men.

“The scrawny overlords will soon depart”
That’s what the people used to think.
“And out of long flasks of iron,
We’ll serve their farewell drink!”

“And Freedom will come with dance and play,
With her banner, the white-blue-red;
Perhaps she’ll even be able to fetch
Napoleon from the dead!”

But alas! The lords are still around!
And many who came this way,
Foolish fellows, as thin as rakes,
Carry big bellies today.

Those pallid wretches used to look
Like love, like hope and like faith,
But from wine in excess, they now
Carry red noses on their face.

And Freedom has sprained her foot, she lost,
For springing and charging, all powers;
In Paris itself, the tricolour flags,
Look sadly down from their towers.

Since then, the Emperor has risen again,
But English worms have eaten his core,
And made a quit man out of him:
He let them burry him once more.

I saw his funeral rites myself,
And the golden coach that rolled
With victory’s golden goddesses,
Who carried his coffin of gold.

All along the Champs Elysées,
And through the Triumphal Arch,
On through mist, on over snow,
On went the funeral march.

The music was painfully out of tune,
And every musician froze.
The eagles on the standards
Looked nostalgic and morose.

The people looked like moving ghosts,
By old memories affected.
The fairy-tale imperial dream,
For a while, was resurrected.

I wept on that day. I couldn’t stop
My eyes from filling with tears,
When that old love cry “Vive l’Empereur!”
Resounded in my ears.

 

CAPUT IX

We left Cologne in the morning,
At a quarter to eight;
We arrived at Hagen around three,
And that is where we ate.

The table was readied, it was
Good old German cooking all right.
Hail to thee, dear sauerkraut!
Your smell is a real delight!

Stuffed chestnuts in green cabbage!
They look as if cooked by mother!
Hail to thee, my homeland cod!
How smartly you swim in butter!

The homeland is always sacred
To a heart with a real feeling.
I also like, served well baked,
A mixture of eggs and herring.

O how the sausages sang in sizzling fat!
The thrushes, little angels so devout,
Baked with apple sauce, twittered:
“You’re welcome to try us out!”

They twittered: “Welcome, dear countryman!
You’ve been long gone, we understand.
For a long time, with pretty girls,
You hung around in a foreign land!”

Upon the table stood a goose,
The quiet, comfortable kind.
Perhaps she loved me long ago,
When we were young and didn’t mind.

She gave me a look so full of meaning,
So ardent, so pained, so true!
I’m sure she had a beautiful soul,
Yet, her flesh was quite hard to chew.

They served a pig’s head too,
Displayed on a pewter plate;
Swine heads are still adorned with laurels,
In Germany, at any rate!

 

CAPUT X

Soon after Hagen, night quickly fell,
And I could feel in my intestines
A creeping cold. I didn’t feel warm
Till Unna, in one of the inns.

I found a pretty maiden there,
She served me punch in a friendly way;
Her curly hair was like yellow silk,
Her soft eyes shone like a moon-ray.

I heard the lisping Westphalian accent
Again, with a joy without measure.
The punch brought back the sweet memories,
Of my dear brothers in pleasure.

Those dear Wesphalians with whom,
In Göttingen, I so often drank,
Till, with our hearts so moved,
Under the tables, we sank!

I’ve always so much liked
Those dear Wesphalian friends,
A people so firm, so sure, so true,
Void of bragging and pretence.

How splendid, on the duelling ground,
They stand with lion hearts!
So true are their tierces,
So precise are their quartes.

They fence well, they drink well,
They are such friendly folks:
They reach you a hand and then weep,
They are sentimental oaks.

May Heaven guard you, worthy race,
May Heaven bless your seeds,
Preserve you from war and fame,
From heroes and heroic deeds.

May God send easy trials
To your worthy young men,
May he bring all your daughters
Safely to the alter- Amen!

 

CAPUT XI

This is the forest of Teuteburg,
Of which Tacitus has written;
This is the classical morass,
Where Varus’ legions were beaten.

Here, they fought the Cheruscan prince,
This nobleman, Hermann by name;
In this mud and mire the Germans won,
Here was built the German fame.

Had Hermann not won the battle,
At the head of his blonde hordes,
The German Liberty would be dead,
And we’d bow to Roman lords.

In our country we’d speak roman,
We’d even wear a roman tunic,
The Swabians would be called Quirites,
And we’d find vestals in Münich!

Hengstenberg would be a haruspex,
Who would sift through oxen entrails,
Neander, as an augur, would ponder
Over what a flight of birds entails.

Birch-Pfeifer would guzzle turpentine,
Like Roman ladies of old.
(This would make their urine
Smell aromatic, we’re told.)

Raumer would be no German rogue,
He’d be a Roman Rogasius,
Freiligrath would compose without rhymes,
In the manner of Flaccus Horatius.

The vulgar beggar, father Jahn,
Would now be called Vulgarius.
Me Hercule! Masmann would speak Latin,
As Marcus Tullius Massmanus!

Lovers of truth would now fight
With lions, jackals and hyenas,
Instead of having to face dogs
In small-time press arenas.

Instead of three dozens princes,
We’d have a single Nero now.
We’d split open our veins,
Defiantly refusing to bow.

Shelling would be a Seneca
And would die in this conflict.
To our Cornelius we would say:
“Painting is not like shit.”

Thank God! Hermann won the battle,
The Romans were driven away,
Varius and his legions was lost,
And we are still German today!

We’re German still, and German we speak,
And everything remained the same:
An ass is an ass, not an asinus,
And the Swabians have kept their name.

Rauner got a medal, but remained
A German rogue all the time;
Freiligrath isn’t a Horace:
His poetry is full of rhyme.

Thank God! Massmann speaks no Latin,
Birch-Pfeiffer writes only drama-plays
And doesn’t guzzle turpentine,
Like the ladies of Roman days.

O Herman, we thank you for all this!
So, at Detmold, as is only fair,
They’re erecting you a monument;
I have even put in my share.

 

CAPUT XII

At night, the chaise bumps on through the woods.
Suddenly a cracking is heard:
A wheel’s come off. We came to a halt.
Not very pleasant, take my word.

The coachman got down, he hurried away
To the village, and I’m left there
Alone in the woods at midnight.
A howling is heard everywhere.

That’s the wolves, they howl so wildly,
Their hungry voices are screaming.
Like lights in the total darkness,
Their fiery eyes are gleaming.

Surely, they’ve heard of my coming,
And set the woods afire
In honour of my visit;
They even sang in choir.

It’s a serenade, I see it now,
A personal celebration!
Deeply moved, I stroke a pose,
And spoke with animation:

“My fellow wolves! I am happy today
To spend time in this surrounding,
Where so many noble minds,
For me, are so lovingly howling.

To what I feel in this moment,
There is no possible measure;
Yes, I shall eternally remember
This lovely hour of pleasure.

I thank you for this confidence,
Demonstrated without denial,
And which you have so clearly proved,
In every period of trial.

My fellow wolves! You never doubted me,
Never be deceived by those thugs,
Who spread the tale that I’ve betrayed you,
That I’ve gone over to the dogs,

That, as a traitor, as a councillor-to-be,
To the sheep-nation I was sold!
It was beneath me to contradict
All the lies that you were told.

The sheepskin that I wore at times,
Was only used to keep me warm,
It was no cause for sheep affection,
In any shape or form.

I’m not a sheep, I’m not a dog,
I’m not a councillor at all.
I’ve always remained a wolf, my teeth
Are wolfish, and so is my soul.

I am a wolf, and always will
Howl the way wolves do.
So, count on me and help yourself,
Then God will help you too!”

That was the speech I made,
Without any preparation.
Kolb’s Allgemeine had it printed,
Not without some mutilation.

 

CAPUT XIII

The sun arose near Paderborn
With quite an annoyed expression.
In fact, lighting the stupid earth
Is an irksome profession!

As soon as he’s lit one side up,
With glittering speed, he sends his light
To the other side. In the meantime,
The first sinks deep into night.

Sisyphus’ stone keeps rolling down,
The Danaid’s barrel can never
Be filled, and in vain will the sun
Light the earth for ever!

And when the morning mist had cleared,
There appeared on the road-side,
In the morning light, the image
Of the man who was crucified.

My poor cousin, I’m filled with sadness
Every time I gaze upon your face.
You hoped to redeem the world, you fool!
You saviour of the human race!

They played a nasty trick on you,
Those lords of high Estate!
Who asked you to talk so recklessly
Against the Church and the State?

For your misfortune the printing-press
Was not yet invented then.
You could have written a book
Over the questions of Heaven.

The censor would have stricken out
The most offensive section,
And the censorship would have kindly
Prevented your crucifixion.

If only your Sermon on the Mount
Used a text softer in nature!
You had talent and intellect enough
To spare every pious creature!

 

CAPUT XIV

A moist wind, a barren land,
The coach is bogged in mire,
But through my soul it sings and rings:
“Sun, thou accusing fire!”

That’s the ending rhyme of an old song
That my nurse so often sang:
“Sun, thou accusing fire!” like the call
Of a forest horn it rang.

The song is about a murderer,
A happy, carefree fellow;
But, at the end, he’s found in a wood,
Hanged from a grey willow.

The secret avengers had nailed
On the tree-trunk, with much ire,
The murderer’s death sentence-
“Sun, thou accusing fire!”

The sun, as plaintiff, managed
The sentence of death to require.
While dying, Ottilie had screamed:
“Sun, thou accusing fire!”

When I think of that tale, I also think
Of my nurse, so dear and so old.
I see once more her brown face,
With many a wrinkle and a fold.

She was born in Münsterland,
And knew many stories in detail:
Ghost stories to raise your hair,
Many a folksong and fairy-tale.

How my heart would throb when the old lady
Told the tale of the princess fair,
Who sat lonely on the barren heath
And combed her golden hair.

Her job was to tend to the geese,
And when, at the end of the day,
She drove them through the village gate,
She sopped and cried in dismay.

For she could see a horse’s head
Nailed high over the village gate:
This was the head of the poor horse
Who bore her to her foreign fate.

The royal princess sighed deeply:
“O, Falada that you should hang so!”
The horse’s head cried down to her:
“What a pity you had to go!”

The royal princess sighed deeply:
“If only my mother knew!”
The horse’s head cried down to her:
“Her heart would break for you!”

With bated breath, I used to listen
When my nurse, ever so serious,
Softly spoke of Barbarossa,
Our Emperor so mysterious.

She assured me that he wasn’t dead,
As proclaimed the learned and smart,
He lived with his comrades-in-arms,
Hiding deep in a mountain’s heart.

Kyffhäuser is the mountain’s name,
And there’s a large cave inside;
Hanging-lamps light in a ghostly fashion
Its halls, high-vaulted and wide.

The first hall is a stable,
Quite an astonishing sight:
Standing still at their mangers,
Thousands of horses, harness bright.

Every one of these horses
Is saddled well, is bridled well.
Not a single one neighs or stamps,
As if they had a metal shell.

In the second hall, upon the straw,
One sees many lying creatures:
Thousands of soldiers, bearded men,
With warlike defiant features.

All are armed from head to toe,
Yet, out of all these men of war,
No one stirs, no one moves,
They lie asleep on the floor.

In the third hall one sees swords and spears,
Battle-axes, all in a high pile,
Helmets and armours of silver and steel
And firearms of ancient style.

Very few cannon, yet enough
To make a trophy of this stack.
A standard projects out of this heap,
Its colour is gold, red and black.

In the fourth hall lives the Emperor.
For centuries he’s been there,
His head on an arm, at a table of stone,
He sits on a stone-chair.

The beard that grew down to the floor
Is red, as vivid as fire.
Sometimes he blinks an eye,
Sometimes he raises his brows higher.

Does he sleep deep or does he brood?
This is difficult to infer;
But when the right hour comes along,
He will rouse and mightily stir.

Then, he will seize the worthy flag
And cry: “On horses! To war!”
His men will awake and leap from the ground,
With a most frightening roar.

And all will swing upon on their horse,
That’ll stamp their hoofs while neighing.
They’ll ride out into the clattering world,
With all the trumpets blaring.

They’ll ride well, they’ll fight well,
After having slept overtime.
The Emperor’s tribunal will be stern:
Murderers must pay for their crime.

Those treacherous murderers who once
Against our maiden did conspire,
Our dear, wondrous, golden-haired Germany!
“Sun, thou accusing fire!’

Many who, laughing in their castles thought
They’d be safe for the rest of their age,
Won’t escape the Emperor’s rope,
Or the Emperor’s avenging rage.

How lovely my old nurse’s tales ring!
How sweet the dreams they inspire!
My superstitious heart exults:
“Sun, thou accusing fire!”

 

CAPUT XV

A fine icy rain comes prickling down,
Like needle-points that sting.
The horses sweat and wade through the mud,
They let their tails mournfully swing.

The coachman blows in his horn,
I know the old tune he’s blowing:
“Three horsemen ride out of the gate!”
I feel my drowsiness is growing.

I drowsed and I fell asleep,
And finally I dreamed- o suspense!
I was in the wondrous mountain,
In Barbarossa’s presence.

No more did he sit at the table of stone,
On his stony chair, as if cemented;
Nor did he have that respectful air,
As is usually expected.

He waddled with me trough the halls,
And we chatted at leisure.
Like an antiquarian, he showed me
His curio collection and treasure.

In the armoury hall he explained
The best tricks in the art of clubbing;
He polished some swords with his ermine fur,
There was rust that needed rubbing.

As many items were full of dust,
With a feather duster, he cleaned a few:
He dusted helmets and armours
And spiked headgear too.

And while he dusted his flag
He declared: “My greatest pride
Is that no moth has eaten the silk,
And the wood has no worms inside.”

And when we came to the soldier’s hall,
Where thousands, ready for action,
Laid on the floor, the old man spoke
With absolute satisfaction:

“Here, we must softly speak and tread,
For we must not awake those chaps.
Today will be payday, since again
A hundred years will elapse.”

And lo! The Emperor gently approached
Each sleeping soldier along his way,
And discretely slipped one ducat
In his pocket, for his pay.

He spoke with a grin on his face,
As I looked at him with surprise:
“I pay my men every hundred years.
And one ducat is each man’s prize.”

In the hall, where the horses stood
In long silent rows and waited,
The Emperor rubbed his hands
And seemed strangely elated.

He counted the horses one by one
And patted their ribs, approving;
He counted and counted, and all the while
His lips were eagerly moving.

“That still is not the proper count”
He said at last, with regret.
”I’ve plenty of soldiers and weapons,
But horses are difficult to get.

I’ve sent horse dealers around the world,
And their mission is to spot
And buy for me the best horses;
I already have a lot.

I’m waiting till the count is complete,
Then I’ll strike, liberating
My Fatherland, my German folk,
Who have been so loyally waiting.”

Thus spoke the Emperor, but I cried:
“Attack, old fellow, attack!
And when a man doesn’t have a horse,
Let him ride on a donkey’s back!”

“One must not rush into battle.”
Barbarossa replied with a smile.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,
And all good things take a while.

Who comes not today, will come tomorrow,
An oak-tree takes some time to grow,
And chi va piano va sono,
Was a Roman saying, as you know.”

 

CAPUT XVI

The coach’s jolting woke me up,
But soon my eyelids drooped once more,
I went back to sleep and dreamed
Of Barbarossa, the Emperor.

Again, we chatted and strolled about
Through every echoing hall.
He asked me this, he asked me that,
He bade me to tell him all.

He had not heard from the upper world
For an untold number of years.
In fact, since the Seven Years War,
No mortal word had reached his ears.

He asked about Moses Mendelssohn,
Madame Karschin, and no less
About countess Dubarry,
Louis the Fifteenth’s mistress.

“O emperor,” I said, “you’re way behind,
So many years have gone
Since Moses died; dead and gone too are
Rebecca and Abraham, their son.

This Abraham and Lea gave birth
To a baby boy, Félix by name,
Who made his mark in Christendom,
As a conductor of great fame.

Old Madame Karschin is dead as well,
And so is Madame Klencke, her daughter;
Helmine Chézy, her granddaughter,
Has not yet passed over.

As long as Louis the Fifteenth was ruling,
Dubarry’s life was merry and fine;
By the time she went to the guillotine,
She was no longer in her prime.

King Louis the Fifteenth died in bed;
His last hour was serene.
But Louis the Sixteenth was guillotined,
With Antoinette, his Queen.

The Queen displayed the greatest courage
And dignity, as you’d expect,
Whereas, under the guillotine,
Madame Dubarry screamed and wept.

The Emperor suddenly stood still;
He looked with his eyes gleaming,
And said: “For God’s sake, please tell me
What’s this business of guillotining?”

“The guillotine”, I explained to him,
“Is a newly invented apparatus
For putting people to death,
Regardless of social status.

The apparatus that is used
Is really a simple machine
Invented by Monsieur Guillotin,
Hence the name guillotine.

You are shoved between two posts
After they tie you to a platform,
Which is then lowered; above you hangs
An axe of triangular form.

They pull a string, the axe shoots down,
And one hears a merry crack.
In consequence, your head will drop
Into a receiving sack.”

Here, the Emperor interrupted my speech:
“Be silent! Do not mention this machine
Of yours, and may the Lord forbid
That I’d ever need a guillotine!

The King and Queen strapped!
Strapped! On a platform!
Against all the rules of etiquette,
And due respect, of any norm!

And who do you think you are to dare
Converse with such intimacy?
Just wait, my lad, and you will see:
I’ll clip your wings without mercy!

When I listen to what you say,
I am upset beyond reason.
Your very breath is a lèse-majesté,
And a high act of treason.”

When the old man flew into such a rage
And lost all sense of proportion,
My inmost thoughts burst out,
And, I too lost all caution.

“Sir Barbarossa”, I cried out loud,
“You belong to an old fable-kingdom;
Go back to bed, we shall succeed,
Without your help, to gain our freedom.

The republican would scoff at us
If a ghost with sceptre and crown
Marched at the head of our ranks.
There’ll be much laughter in town!

I do not like your flag anymore,
For, in the student’s league of old,
The foolish Germans spoiled my taste
For colours such as red, black and gold.

It would be best if you stayed at home,
In your hall at old Kyffhäuser.
To do without an Emperor,
Upon reflex ion, would be wiser.”

 

CAPUT XVII

I’ve quarrelled with the Emperor
In dream, only in dream, I must say.
When awake, we don’t talk to princes
In such a disrespectful way.

It is only in a utopic dream
That a German dares to impart
The German opinion that is buried
So deep in his loyal heart.

When I awoke we drove by a forest,
Where the bare trees were gleaming.
This naked, wooded reality
Chased away all my dreaming.

The oak-trees gravely shook their heads.
The birch-trees gave a warning sign
In the manner they nodded. I cried:
“Dear Emperor, forgive that error of mine!

Forgive, o Barbarossa, my hasty words!
I do not possess a wise soul
Like you, and I have little patience,
So, please, come back soon, after all!

Retain the old methods of punishment,
If you judge the guillotine unpleasant:
The sword for the nobleman, and the cord
For the townsman and vulgar peasant.

But, do switch things around, now and then:
Peasants and townsmen should die by the sword,
And noblemen should hang on a rope.
We’re all the creatures of the Lord!

Bring back the laws of Charles the Fifth,
With the hanging courts restoration,
And divide the people, as before,
Into guild, estate and corporation.

Restore the old Holy Roman Empire,
As it was, whole and immense.
Bring back all its musty junk,
And all its foolish nonsense.

The Middle Ages I’ll endure,
If you bring back the genuine item;
Just rescue us from this bastard state,
And from its farcical system,

From that mongrel chivalry,
Such a nauseating dish
Of Gothic fancies and modern deceit,
That is neither flesh nor fish.

Shut down all the theatres,
And chase their comedians pack,
Who parody the olden days.
O, Emperor, do come back!”

 

CAPUT XVIII

Minden is a mighty fortress,
Well armed, with good protection!
With Prussian fortresses, however,
I’d rather have no connection.

We arrived there as evening fell;
The draw-bridge planks started groaning
Chillingly, as we moved across.
Beneath us, the dark moats were yawning.

The tall bastions looked down at me
So angrily, so threatening…
The great gate opened with a rattle
And shut again, equally deafening.

Ah! My soul was as troubled
As was once Odysseus’s own soul,
When he heard Polyphemus’s rock
Rolling down to block the cavern’s hole.

A corporal neared, and asked our names:
He demanded immediate compliance.
“My name is Noman, I am oculist,
I remove scales from the eyes of giants.”

I felt much worse when I reached the inn,
Even the food was not so great.
I went straight to bed, but couldn’t sleep,
I was disturbed by the bed-cover’s weight.

It was a wide feather-bed,
Its damask curtains were red,
The canopy was of a faded gold,
With a dirty tassel at the head.

Accursed tassel! All night long,
I tossed in bed, sleepless!
It hung, threatening above my head,
Like the sword of Damocles!

Sometimes it looked like a snake’s head,
And I could hear it hiss at me:
“You’re in the fortress now for good,
And never again you’ll be free!”

I sighed: “O, how I wish I were home,
Back in the Faubourg Poissonière,
In Paris, with my darling wife,
O, how I wish I were there!”

Sometimes I felt as if something
Was brushed across my forehead,
Just like a censor’s icy hand,
And then my reason fled.

Gendarmes, wrapped in burial shrouds,
A crowd of white ghosts, whirled around
My bed, and I also heard
Uncanny clanks of chains resound.

Alas! The ghosts dragged me away,
And I found myself at last
Upon a steep and rocky wall;
There, they bound me fast.

That evil, filthy bed-tassel!
Once more, I found it there,
But now, it looked like a vulture
With claws, and black of feather.

It looked like the Prussian eagle now!
Its claws gripped my body, my liver
Is eaten out of my chest....
O, how I did moan and quiver!

I lamented long, and then the cock crowed,
And the feverish vision fled.
I laid in Minden, sweating in bed,
The eagle became a tassel above my head.

I travelled by a special post,
And the first free air I found
Was outside, in open country,
On good old Bügenburger ground.

 

CAPUT XIX

O, Danton, you were very wrong,
And paid dearly for it!
A man can take his country along,
At the sole of his feet!

About half of the principality
Of Bückenburg stuck to my boots.
In all my life, I’ve never seen
Such clayish and muddy routes.

I got out in town to take a look,
My family originated in Bückenburg,
That’s where my grandfather was born;
My grandmother was born in Hamburg.

I reached Hannover close to noon,
They cleaned my boots from mud and clay;
I immediately set to visit the town,
I like to profit along my way.

My goodness, the place looks so neat!
The streets cleanliness is excessive.
I saw many a splendid building too,
Their size was very impressive.

I particularly liked a spacious square,
With stately homes all around it.
The king lives there, his palace is there,
The exterior is exquisite.

(The palace’s, that is) At each side
Of the gate, a sentry-box stands;
Fierce and menacing redcoats watch,
Carrying muskets in their hands.

“This is Ernst August’s home”,
My guide said. “He’s a high Tory Lord,
An elderly nobleman, but still active,
Considering that he’s quite old.

He is safe here, and needs no guards,
For he fears no insurrection:
The lack of guts of our dear friends,
Remains his best protection.

I see him sometimes, and he complains:
A more boring job, one cannot find,
Like his royal job in Hannover,
Where he is now confined.

He finds our way of life too narrow,
Being used to the British way.
He suffers from spleen, and rather fears
He’ll hang himself some day.

The day before yesterday I found him
Stooping sadly, by the fire at dawn.
He mixed a cure for his ailing dogs,
And the recipe was his own.”

 

CAPUT XX

When we reached Hamburg it was dark;
From Harburg it’s a one hour ride.
The stars in heaven greeted me,
The air was refreshing and mild.

And when I reached my mother’s place,
She trembled with an immense joy;
She clapped her hands and cried:
“My sweet and darling boy!

Thirteen years must have elapsed,
Since I last saw you, my sweet!
Surely, you must be starving,
Just say, what would you like to eat?

I’ve got some fish and some goose,
And lovely oranges after that.”
Then give me some fish and some goose,
And lovely oranges after that.

And while I ate with appetite,
My mother was happy and cheery;
She asked me this, she asked me that,
And many an awkward query.

“My dear child! Are you well looked after,
In this foreign land called France?
Does your wife know how to run a house?
Does she mend your shirts and pants?”

The fish is good, dear little mother,
But I mustn’t eat it while I talk,
You mustn’t bother me right now,
For I could swallow a bone and choke.

And after I ate the excellent fish,
The goose promptly followed.
Mother again asked this and that,
Some of her questions were awkward.

“My dear child! Tell me, in which country
Is it more pleasant to stay?
Here or in France? And towards which people
Would you be inclined to sway?

“The German goose, dear little mother,
Is good, but it is common understanding
That the French geese are better stuffed.
Also, their sauces are outstanding.

The oranges made their apparition,
Just after the goose took her leave.
How excellent and sweet they were
Was quite difficult to believe!

Then my mother started questioning again,
In her casual and teasing manner.
She asked about a thousand things
And many a delicate matter.

“My dear child! What are your views now?
Is your addiction still strong
For political matters?
To which party do you belong?”

The oranges, dear little mother,
Are good; I swallowed their sweet juice
With true delight. On the other hand,
For their peel, I have no use.

 

CAPUT XXI

They’re rebuilding, bit by bit,
The luckless half-burnt city.
Hamburg now looks like a sad poodle,
Half shorn, inspiring pity.

There are many streets that disappeared,
Some of which I’ll certainly miss.
Where is the house, in which I shared,
With my sweet love, my first kiss?

Where is the printing-house
That published those Travel Sketches of mine?
Where is the oyster-cellar where
I gulped down oysters for the first time?

And the Dreckwall, where has it gone?
In vain, I seek for the street!
And where is the old Pavilion, where
There were so many cakes to eat?

Where’s the City Hall, where the Senate sat
And the burghers busily debated?
A prey to fire! The flames spared nothing,
Even the holiest was incinerated!

The people were still sighing with fear;
Deep sorrow showed on their face,
When they recalled the frightful story
Of this most horrendous blaze:

“It flared in every corner at once,
There was nothing but smoke and flame!
The church-towers flared up in the sky,
And then crashed, and down they came.

The old exchange was burnt right out;
There, for centuries, our fathers made
Many an honest business deal,
According to the rules of the trade.

The bank, the city’s silver soul,
And the books, where inscriptions were made
About each person’s net worth,
Thank God! They were saved!

Thank God! They collected on our behalf:
From the most distant lands, help was sent.
It added to eight millions in all.
This business was really excellent!

The money filled our open hands,
It flowed from every nation;
We even accepted victuals too,
We didn’t disdain any donation.

They sent clothes and beds enough,
And bread and meats and soups!
The King of Prussia even thought
He’d wish to send us his troops!

The material damage has been repaid,
That was easily calculated.
But the fear, the fright we had,
Than can never be compensated!”

To cheer them up, I said: “Dear people,
It’s no good wailing like a beaten hound,
Troy was even a finer town,
Yet it burnt down to the ground.

Build your homes and dry your puddles,
Establish new laws that could prove
Better and more effective.
Your fire-engines must also improve.

Reduce the spices in your mock-turtle-soups,
And, before cooking, scale every fish;
Carps, cooked in grease, with their skin,
Are quite an unhealthy dish.

Turkeys won’t hurt you unduly,
But be on guard against disaster
From that vile bird that laid his egg
In the wig of the burgomaster.

Who might that vile bird be?
I do not wish to reveal.
Thinking of him upsets my stomach,
In a manner that is unreal.”

 

CAPUT XXII

Ever more changed than the city,
It’s its people who impressed.
They moved like wandering ruins,
So sunken and so distressed.

The lean ones are even leaner now,
And the fat ones are even fatter,
The children are old; most of the adults
Have grown childish for that matter.

I found old Gudel all made up,
And, like a siren, clean and bright;
She manage to acquire black curls,
And teeth that are sparkling white.

My friend, the stationer, is the one
Who’s best preserved his youthful air.
He looked like John the Baptist,
His head surrounded by yellow hair.

I only saw -----from some distance,
He swiftly fled from my view;
I hear his mind is burnt out,
And was insured by Biber’s too.

I also saw my dear old censor again,
In the mist, lowly stooping.
We met in the goose market-place,
He appeared completely drooping!

We shook each other’s hands warmly,
I noticed that his eyes were wet.
It was quite a moving scene;
He was so pleased that we met!

Not every one was still about.
Many had sailed from this earthly shore.
Alas! Even my Gumpelino too,
Was not to be seen anymore.

That noble man had surrendered his soul
To God, by whom it was given.
He has become a glorified seraph now,
Floating ‘round Jehovah’s throne, in Heaven.

I also sought for the crooked Adonis,
I combed every corner, in vain.
He used to sell, in Hamburg’s streets,
China cups and nocturnal porcelain.

Sarras, the faithful poodle is dead.
A terrible loss! I would bet
Campe would rather loose a score
Of his authors, than his pet.

The population of Hamburg State
Has from time immemorial consisted
Of Jews and Christians; it’s also known
That the latter are rather close-fisted.

All of the Christians are fairly good.
They have a healthy appetite too.
They also pay their bills on time,
Sometimes, before they’re overdue.

The Jews can be subdivided again
Into the old party and the new block.
The old pray in the Synagogue,
And the new, in the Temple they flock.

The new Jews eat pork meat,
They rebel for they have a short fuse,
They’re democrats, though. The old
Are much more the aristoscratchic Jews.

I love them all, both old and new,
But I swear by mighty God above,
There are some fish called smoked sprats,
For which I nourish a greater love.

 

CAPUT XXIII

The republic of Hamburg was never
As great as Venice or Florence,
Yet Hamburg has better oysters;
You’ll eat the best at Café Laurence.

It was a beautiful evening indeed,
When Campe and I went there to dine.
We were ready on wallowing once more
In oysters and Rhine-wine.

Besides, good company was there,
I was pleased to see, among others,
Many old comrades, like Chaufepié,
And also many new brothers.

Wille was there, whose face is like
An autograph book where his foes
From student days entered their names
Too legibly- with blows!

Fuchs was there, a thorough pagan,
A personal foe of Jehovah;
He only believes in Hegel, and perhaps,
In the Venus of Canova.

My Campe had become Amphitryon,
And was delightfully smiling;
Like a transfigured Madonna,
His eyes were blissfully shining.

I ate and drank most heartily,
And thought from the depth of my soul:
“This Campe is really an excellent man,
Among publishers, the best of all.

Another publisher, perhaps,
Might have let me starve to death.
This fellow even buys my drinks,
I’ll keep him till my last breath.

I thank the Creator on high,
Who made the grapes and the wine,
And allowed such a publisher
As Julius Campe to be mine!

I thank the Creator on high
Whose mighty word gave birth
To oyster in all the seas
And to Rhine-wine on earth,

Who also made the lemons grow,
The oyster’s taste to sweeten.
Father, may I, peacefully tonight,
Digest what I have eaten!”

The Rhine-wine always soothes me,
My strife-torn soul then mellows!
It kindles there a mighty urge,
The urge to love my fellows.

It sends me out to roam the streets,
Driven by a strong desire:
My soul seeks another soul, wrapped
In a white and sweet attire.

And when I came to the Drehbahn,
My eyes upon her rested:
A splendid woman in the moonshine,
Wonderfully high-breasted.

Her round face looked healthy and sound,
Her eyes were turquoise-blue,
Her cheeks were like roses, her lips like cherries,
And her nose was reddish too.

Her head was topped by a linen cap,
Starched white, with decorations;
It resembled a folded mural crown
With turrets and crenellations.

She wore a white tunic down to her calves,
And o, what calves they were!
Each of her solemn high legs,
To a Doric column could compare.

The naturalness of this world
Could be read in her every feature,
But her supernatural behind
Revealed a superior creature.

Stepping up to me, she said:
“Welcome to the Elbe once more,
After an absence of thirteen years,
I see you are the same as before!

Perhaps you’re looking for those beautiful souls,
You used to meet time and time again,
Those with whom you revelled all night long,
Down here, in this pleasant domain.

They’ve been swallowed by Life,
That hydra-monster so voracious!
You won’t get back those good old days,
Or those female-companions so precious!

You’ll find those pretty flowers no more,
That you adored in your young heart.
They blossomed here, they’re withered now,
The storm has ripped their leaves apart.

Withered, plucked, trampled down indeed
By Fate with its brutal feet.
My friends that is the earthly lot
Of all that is pretty and sweet.”

“Who are you?” I cried, “You look at me
Like a dream from an olden day;
Where do you live, great lady?
I’d like to take you home, if I may”

Then the woman smiled and said:
“You’re mistaken: I am refined;
I’m a respectable, moral person;
You’re mistaken, I’m not that kind!

I’m not such a small demoiselle,
A Lorette from a French Faubourg.
Know this: I am Hammonia,
The guardian Goddess of Hamburg!

I see you start; I see you’re shocked,
You, normally a bold singer.
Do you still wish to take me home?
Well then! Do not linger!”

But I laughed noisily and cried:
“I’ll follow you, I pray you tell
Which way to go. I’ll follow you,
Even though it could lead to Hell!”

 

CAPUT XXIV

How I got up the narrow stairs,
Is difficult for me to say.
Perhaps some invisible spirit
Carried me up all the way.

Here, in Hammonia’s little room
The time went swiftly by.
The Goddess confessed: her liking for me
Has always been quite high.

“You see”, she said, “in earlier days,
The one I mostly used to admire
Was the bard who sang the Messiah
Upon his pious lyre.

You see my Klopstock’s bust on the chest,
That’s where, for a long time, it sat.
But for years now, it only serves
As a perch to hang my hat.

You’re my favourite now, you can see
That your picture hangs above my bed,
And that a wreath of fresh laurel-leaves
Crowns your handsome head.

And yet, you’ve often nagged my sons;
I must admit, it caused some pain,
And I was sometimes deeply wounded-
This must not happen again.

I trust that time has cured you now
Of such an unholy behaviour,
And taught you to be more tolerant
With fools and those you deem inferior.

But tell me, what prompted your travel?
There must be a very special reason!
Why travel North with such weather,
As we approach the winter season?”

“O, my Goddess!” I replied,
“There are some thoughts that slumber deep
At the bottom of the human heart,
And suddenly awake from their sleep.

Outwardly, everything seemed fair;
Yet, an internal uneasiness
Oppressed me, and was daily growing.
I was plagued by homesickness.

The stimulating air of France,
Now oppressed me by its weight.
I had to breathe German air again,
Or else, I would suffocate.

I yearned for the German tobacco-smoke,
And for the fragrance of peat;
I trembled eagerly to have
German soil under my feet.

I yearned to see my old lady once more,
And, through the nights, I’d sigh.
She lives beside the Dam Gate,
And Lottchen lives nearby.

And also that old noble gentleman,
Who scolded me regularly,
Some sighs were meant for him too,
For he protected me generously.

I wish I could hear from his mouth
The words ‘young fool!’ repeated,
Which my heart, in younger days,
Always, like music, greeted.

I yearned to see the chimney-smoke,
Rising up from German stoves,
For the nightingales of lower Saxony,
And for the quite beech-tree groves.

I even yearned for all those places,
The passion stations of this town,
Where once I traded the cross of youth,
And wore a thorny crown.

I wanted to weep, where I once wept,
Those tears so bitter and burning;
It’s love of country, I believe,
They call this foolish yearning!

I do not like to mention it,
It’s only a disease, deep down,
A shameful wound, not to reveal
To every soul in town.

O, how I hate that pack of villain,
You try to stir up your hearts,
By putting their patriotism on show,
With all its ulcerous warts!

They’re shameless shabby beggars,
All they seek is charity.
All that Menzel and his Swabians want
Is a penny of popularity!

O, my Goddess, you find me today
Rather soft-hearted and sickly.
I’m a bit sick, but I’ll take care,
And hope to recover quickly.

Yes, I am sick, but you can
Easily refresh my spirit.
Offer me a good cup of tea,
With some rum mixed to it.”

 

CAPUT XXV

The Goddess made me tea,
To which she added rum.
She drunk rum herself,
As for tea, she had none.

She leaned her head against my shoulder,
(And by doing so, she crushed
Her cap, her mural tower)
And then, she softly hushed:

“I’ve often anxiously thought of you,
Living in Paris, that sinful place,
Without a friend to watch over you,
Among that frivolous French race.

You stroll along the streets there,
And do not have at your side
A loyal German publisher,
To be your mentor and your guide.

And temptation there is far too great,
And there are plenty of sylphs to find,
Sickly at that, and all too soon,
A man can loose his peace of mind.

Do not go back but stay with us!
Here still reign morals and breeding,
And in our midst also bloom
Things that are quiet and pleasing.

Stay here with us in Germany,
You’ll find it not as distressing
As before. No doubt, you’ve noticed
How fast we are progressing.

The censorship is no longer strict,
Hoffmann has mellowed with age;
Your Travel Sketches, he will no longer
Slash with youthful rage.

You too are older and mellower now,
You’re less inclined to fight;
You’ll even see past events
In a somewhat rosier light.

That German life was so terrible,
Is simply an overstatement;
Like in Rome, you could choose suicide,
In order to avoid enslavement.

The people enjoyed freedom of thoughts,
The masses beliefs were respected;
The very few who printed things
Were the only ones affected.

Lawless tyranny never ruled here,
Demagogues, even the worst sort,
Never lost their citizenship
Without a sentencing court.

Things never went so bad in Germany,
Whatever hardships may have risen.
Believe me, no one ever starved to death
Inside a German prison.

In long gone days, there bloomed
Many a fair apparition
Of simple faith and harmony.
Now, all is doubt and sedition.

The practical, outward freedom
Will one day demolish
This ideal, a lily-like dream,
That we so fervently cherish.

Our beautiful poetry is fading fast,
It’s already a flickering fire;
The Moorish king of Freiligrath,
With other kings, will expire

Our grandchildren will eat and drink their fill,
But no longer in our leisurely way.
A spectacle-drama is coming near,
The idyll of old will fade away.

If you could keep a secret, I will
Unseal the Destiny book .
My magic mirrors reveal the future,
And I’ll let you take a look.

I’ve never shown it to a mortal being,
But to you, I’d like to show it:
The future of our Fatherland.
But alas! You cannot keep a secret!”

“My God, o Goddess!” I cried enrapt,
“That’d be a supreme delight!
Let me see the future of Germany,
I’m a man and can keep quiet.

I pledge my silence by an oath,
Any oath you wish to hear,
To guarantee full secrecy.
Tell me, how shall I swear?”

But then she answered: “Swear to me,
In father Abraham’s fashion,
The way he let Eliezer swear,
When he was sent on his mission.

Lift up my gown and lay your hand
Here, on my thigh, beneath it,
And swear that, in writing and in speech,
What you’ll see will remain a secret.”

A solemn moment! I felt as though
The breath of a long gone day
Blew around me as I swore the oath
In the ancient patriarchal way.

I lifted the Goddess gown and laid
My hand on her thigh beneath it,
And swore that, in writing and in speech,
What I’ll see will remain a secret.

 

CAPUT XXVI

The Goddess cheeks glowed so red,
The rum must have reached her head,
Or so, I thought. She spoke to me,
And, with a saddened tone, she said:

“I’m getting old, for Hamburg was built
The same day in which I was born,
And at the Elbe’s estuary my mother,
As a haddock-queen, was sworn.

My father was a mighty king,
Known as Charlemagne by name;
Frederick the Great of Prussia couldn’t
Match him in power, wisdom or fame.

The seat he used the day he was crowned
Still exits at the Aachen’s site.
Dear mother inherited the other seat,
The one on which he sat at night.

My mother left it in turn to me,
It’s nothing special, I must admit,
But, should Rothschild offer all his wealth,
I shall never part with it.

Look, in the corner stands a chair;
It is old and weather-beaten;
The arms-leather is torn and worn,
And its cushion is moth-eaten.

But, if you go across and lift
The cushion from the chair,
You’ll see a circular hole,
And a pot is hidden there.

This is an enchanted pot, wherein
The magical forces are brewing,
And if you stick your head down the hole,
The future will stand for viewing.

Germany’s future, like waving phantasms,
Will be revealed to your eyes.
But do not shudder, if out of the filth,
Some miasmas will arise!”

Thus she spoke, and then strangely laughed,
But I was not terrified at all.
With curiosity, I hastened
To stick my head into the hole.

The things I saw I cannot betray,
For I promised never to tell.
I’m barely permitted to reveal,
O God! What I could smell!

With disgust, I still think to this day
Of these odours that blended together
Into a vile accursed introductory smell
Of rotten cabbage and Russian leather.

But what followed this prelude, God!
Were such dreadful stenches!
It was as though the dung were swept
From thirty-six sewer trenches.

I know well what Saint-Just once said
To the Public Salvation Committee:
You don’t heal with musk and oil of roses
The great ills of society.

But this scent of the German future
Was by far much stronger
Than anything my nose ever smelled,
I couldn’t stand it any longer.

I lost my senses, and when I awoke,
I was still by the Goddess’s side;
My head rested on her bosom,
Which was generous and wide.

Her mouth glowed, her nostrils twitched,
Her eyes gleamed, bacchantic;
She clasped the poet and sang,
Her song was ecstatic and frantic:

“There’s a king in Thule who has a cup,
A cup he cherishes above all;
And when he drinks from this cup,
His tears begin to fall.

Then thoughts arise in his troubled mind,
Hardly a matter for objection;
Then he is quite able, my child,
To decree your apprehension.

So, beware of this king in Thule,
Don’t go north, don’t be a fool.
Beware of gendarmes, of the police
And of the whole Historical School.

Stay with me in Hamburg, I love you!
Let’s eat, drink and fully consume
The oysters and wine of this moment
And forget to morrow’s doom.

Put back the lid! Our joy is full,
No vile smell from below should spoil it
I love you as never a woman before
Has loved a German poet.

When I kiss you, your genius fills
My heart with inspiration;
I feel my soul is overcome
By a wondrous intoxication.

I seem to hear, out in the streets,
The watchmen singing a choir:
It’s wedding music and bridal songs,
You, sweet object of my desire!

Now, I see the mounted servants coming
With torches brightly burning;
They solemnly perform the torch-dance,
Jumping and waddling and turning.

The City Elders and Senate come now,
It’s quite a worthy delegation.
The Burgomaster clears his throat,
To prepare for an oration.

Now appear brightly dressed diplomats,
From all the neighbouring nations;
They proceed with due reserve
To offer congratulations.

Here come the Pastors and the Rabbis,
A worthy clerical representation;
But alas! Here comes Hoffmann too,
With scissors for amputation.

The scissors rattle in his hand,
While he most wildly races
Towards you, he cuts into your flesh,
Removing the juiciest pieces.”

 

CAPUT XXVII

And on that wondrous night,
Whatever also took place.
I’ll let you know, some other time,
In warmer summer days.

The old generation of hypocrites,
Thank God! Today is dying;
It slowly sinks into the grave,
Killed by its own disease of lying.

A new generation is growing up,
With no make-up, with no sinning.
It’s free in thoughts and in joy. To it
I’ll proclaim a new beginning.

A youth is budding which understands
The goodness and pride of the poet,
And warms itself upon his heart,
And the heat radiating from it.

My heart is loving as the light,
And as pure and chaste as fire.
The noblest Graces have tuned
The strings of my lyre.

It is the same lyre that once
My father happened to use,
The late Sir Aristophanes,
The favourite of every Muse.

It is the lyre on which he sang
The tale of Pisthetairos who courted
The fair Basileia, and, with her,
Up towards the skies, departed.

In the previous chapter I attempted
Quite a modest imitation
Of the end scene of the Birds,
Father’s best drama creation.

The Frogs is excellent as well.
They’re playing a German translation,
Right now, on the Berlin’s stage,
For royal gratification.

The king likes the play; that shows
A taste for old classics, so to speak.
The old king was much more amused
By modern frogs who croak and creak.

The king likes the play. However,
If the author were still around,
I’ll personally advise him
Not to step on Prussian ground.

For the real Aristophanes,
It would have been a disaster;
Poor chap, we’d soon see him going,
With a chorus of gendarmes after!

The mob would soon insult him,
Instead of wagging its tail.
The police would soon be ordered
To get on his noble trail.

O king! I have your wellbeing at heart,
And there is the advice I give:
Honour the poets, who are dead,
But watch your step with those who live.

Do not offend the living poets,
For the weapons and flames in their possession,
Are deadlier than Jove’s lightening,
Which was a poet’s invention.

Offend the Gods, both old and new,
Offend the whole Olympian lot,
Plus mighty Jehovah, on top of them,
But the poet, offend him not!

The Gods, it is true, are very hard
On all wrongs that humans do:
The fires of hell are rather hot,
One sits there to braise and stew.

Yet, there are saints whose prayers free
Some sinners from the fires of hell.
And church donations and requiems will
Secure a high intercession as well.

And Christ will descend on the last day
To break open hell’s gloomy portal,
And though his judgment may be stern,
He will spare many a mortal.

Yet, there are hells from whose confines
It is not possible to be freed.
No prayers can help, the Redeemer’s pardon,
Even that! Will not succeed.

Have you ever heard of Dante’s hell,
With its frightful verses and rhyme?
Whoever the poet imprisons there,
No God can ever free on time.

No God, no Saviour can deliver him
From those flames that burn.
Beware! O king and better behave,
For soon may well be your turn!

 

(PUBLISHED BY KARL MARX)

 

The Song of the weavers

Engel's said that “this song is in its German original one of the most powerful poems

Without a tear in their grim eyes,

They sit at the loom, the rage of despair in their faces;

We have suffered and hungered long enough;

Old Germany, we are weaving a shroud for thee

And weaving it with a triple curse.

We are weaving, weaving!

The first curse to the God, the blind and deaf god,

Upon whom we relied, as children on their father;

In whom we hoped and trusted withal,

He has mocked us, he has cheated us nevertheless.

We are weaving, weaving!

The second curse for the King of the Rich,

Whom our distress could not soften nor touch;

The King, who extorts the last penny from us,

And sends his soldiers, to shoot us like dogs,

We are weaving, weaving!

A curse to the false fatherland,

That has nothing for us but distress and shame,

Where we suffered hunger and misery –

We are weaving they shroud, Old Germany

We are weaving, weaving!

 

 

 

Karl Marx und Jenny talking with Heinrich Heine

The letters of Marx and Engels 1845

Marx to Heinrich Heine

[Paris, end of January-February 1845]

Dear Friend,

I hope to have time to see you tomorrow. I am due to leave on Monday.[1]

The publisher Leske has just been to see me. He is bringing out a quarterly [2] in Darmstadt which is not subject to censorship. Engels, Hess, Herwegh, Jung and I, etc., are collaborating with him. He has asked me to solicit your cooperation -- poetry or prose. Since we must make use of every opportunity to establish ourselves in Germany, you will surely not decline.

 Of all the people I am leaving behind here, those I leave with most regret are the Heines. I would gladly include you in my luggage! Best regards to your wife [3] from mine and myself.

Yours

K. Marx

_______

NOTES

The letter has no date. The approximate date of its writing is established on the basis of Marx's mentioning in it his imminent departure from Paris due to the expulsion decree issued against him by the French authorities, and also his meeting with the publisher Leske during which he probably concluded the contract for publishing his Kritik der Politik und National-ökonomie, which was signed on 1 February 1845.

1. 3 February.

2. Rheinische Jahrbücher.

3. Mathilde.

 

 

 

 

 

QUOTATIONS

 

Let it be destroyed, this old world, where innocence died, where greediness flourished, where human beings were starved by other human beings? Let them be destroyed from top to bottom, these limned tombstones, where lies and injustice were at home.”

 

Out of hatred against the partisans of nationalism, I could almost love the communists. At least they are no hypocrites with religion and Christianity on their lips. Although the communists have no religion (nobody is perfect), the communists themselves being atheists (which is certainly a great sin), but as their main dogma they recognise an absolute cosmopolitanism, the general love of all peoples, the fraternal community of goods between all mankind as the free citizens of this planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(bourgeois) SECUNDARY-LITERATURE:

 

Heinrich Heine

Biography

 

 

Life of Heinrich Heine

 

 

On Heinrich Heine

 

 

 

 

HEINRICH HEINE

 

His Family Life

 

 

His last days

 

 

In America

 

 

Relations to Karl Immermann

 

 

Life, works and opinions

 

 

 

Heinrich Heine as a critic of his own works