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FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER
THE GERMAN CLASSICS
Masterpieces of German Literature
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH
IN TWENTY VOLUMES
THE GERMAN PUBLICATION SOCIETY NEW YORK
CONTENTS OF VOLUME III
Life of Schiller. By Calvin Thomas
To the Ideal The Veiled Image at Sais The Ideal and The Actual Life Genius Votive Tablets (Selections) The Maiden from Afar The Glove The Diver The Cranes of Ibycus Thee Words of Belief The Words of Error The Lay of the Bell The German Art Commencement of the New Century Cassandra Rudolph of Hapsburg
Introduction to Wallenstein's Death. By William H. Carruth
The Death of Wallenstein. Translated by S. T. Coleridge
Introduction to William Tell. By William H. Carruth
William Tell. Translated by Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B.
Homage of the Arts. Translated by A. I. du P. Coleman
HISTORY AND LITERATURE
The Thirty Years' War—Last Campaigns of Gustavus Adolphus. Translated by Rev. A. J. W. Morrison
On the Use of the Chorus in Tragedy. Translated by A. Lodge
Schiller's Correspondence with Goethe. Translated by L. Dora Schmitz
Milton and His Daughters. By Michael von Munkacsy
Schiller. By C. Jaeger
Schiller's Father and Mother
Schiller's House in Weimar and Birthplace in Marbach
Monument to Schiller in Berlin. By Reinhold Begas
Military Academy in Stuttgart and the Theatre in Mannheim, 1782
Church in which Schiller was married
Schiller at the Court of Weimar
The Knight scorns Cunigonde. By Eugen Klimsch
The Diver. By Carl Gehrts
The Lay of the Bell. By Julius Benezur
Cassandra. By Ferdinand Keller
The Count gives up his Horse to the Priest. By Alexander Wagner
Wallenstein and Seni
Wallenstein and Terzky
Wallenstein hears of Octavio's Treason
Wallenstein warned by his Friends
The Death of Wallenstein. By Karl von Piloty
Stauffacher and his Wife Gertrude
The Oath on the Ruetli
Tell takes Leave of his Family
Tell and Gessler
The Death of Attinghausen. By Wilhelm von Kaulbach
The Homage of the Arts. By Hermann Wislicenus
Wallenstein. By Van Dyck
Monument to Goethe and Schiller in Weimar. By Ernst Rietschel
Goethe on Schiller. From the Ford Collection, New York Public Library
Schiller on Goethe. From the Ford Collection, New York Public Library
Schiller Reciting from his Works to his Weimar Friends. By Theobald von Oer
The Goethe and Schiller Archives in Weimar
Facsimile of Leaf from the Album of Schiller's Letters to Charlotte von Lengefeld
THE LIFE OF SCHILLER
BY CALVIN THOMAS, LL.D.
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University
He kept the faith. The ardent poet-soul, Once thrilled to madness by the fiery gleam Of Freedom glimpsed afar in youthful dream, Henceforth was true as needle to the pole. The vision he had caught remained the goal Of manhood's aspiration and the theme Of those high luminous musings that redeem Our souls from bondage to the general dole Of trivial existence. Calm and free He faced the Sphinx, nor ever knew dismay, Nor bowed to externalities the knee, Nor took a guerdon from the fleeting day; But dwelt on earth in that eternity Where Truth and Beauty shine with blended ray.
Friedrich Schiller, the greatest of German dramatic poets, was born November 10, 1759, at Marbach in Swabia. His father was an officer in the army which the Duke of Wuerttemberg sent out to fight the Prussians in the Seven Years' War. Of his mother, whose maiden name was Dorothea Kodweis, not much is known. She was a devout woman who lived in the cares and duties of a household that sometimes felt the pinch of poverty. After the war the family lived a while at the village of Lorch, where Captain Schiller was employed as recruiting officer. From there they moved, in 1766, to Ludwigsburg, where the extravagant duke Karl Eugen had taken up his residence and was bent on creating a sort of Swabian Versailles. Here little Fritz went to school and was sometimes taken to the gorgeous ducal opera, where he got his first notions of scenic illusion. The hope of his boyhood was to become a preacher, but this pious aspiration was brought to naught by the offer of free tuition in an academy which the duke had started at his Castle Solitude near Stuttgart.
This academy was Schiller's world from his fourteenth to his twenty-first year. It was an educational experiment conceived in a rather liberal spirit as a training-school for public service. At first the duke had the boys taught under his own eye at Castle Solitude, where they were subjected to a strict military discipline. There being no provision for the study of divinity, Schiller was put into law, with the result that he floundered badly for two years. In 1775 the institution was augmented by a faculty of medicine and transferred to Stuttgart, where it was destined to a short-lived career under the name of the Karlschule. Schiller gladly availed himself of the permission to change from law to medicine, which he thought would be more in harmony with his temperament and literary ambitions. And so it proved. As a student of medicine he made himself at home in the doctrines and practices of the day, and for several years after he left school he thought now and then of returning to the profession of medicine.
For posterity the salient fact of his long connection with the Karlschule is that he was there converted into a fiery radical and a banner-bearer of the literary revolution. Just how it came about is hard to explain in detail. The school was designed to produce docile and contented members of the social order; in him it bred up a savage and relentless critic of that order. The result may be ascribed partly, no doubt, to the natural reaction of an ardent, liberty-loving temperament against a system of rigid discipline and petty espionage. The eleves—French was the official language of the school—were not supposed to read dangerous books, and their rooms were often searched for contraband literature. But they easily found ways to evade the rule and enjoy the savor of forbidden fruit.
So it was with Schiller: he read Rousseau more or less, the early works of Goethe, Lessing's Emilia Galotti, and plays by Klinger, Leisewitz, Lenz and Wagner—all more or less revolutionary in spirit. He also made the acquaintance of Shakespeare and steeped himself in the spirit of antique heroism as he found it in Plutarch.
Perhaps this reading would have made a radical of him even if he had just then been enjoying the normal freedom of a German university student. Be that as it may, the time came—it was about 1777—when the young Schiller, faithfully pursuing his medical course and doing loyal birthday orations in praise of the duke or the duke's mistress, was not exactly what he seemed to be. Underneath the calm exterior there was a soul on fire with revolutionary passion.
It was mainly in 1780—his last year in the Karlschule—that Schiller wrote The Robbers, altogether the loudest explosion of the Storm and Stress. The hero, Karl Moor, was conceived as a "sublime criminal." Deceived by the machinations of his villainous brother Franz, he becomes the captain of a band of outlaws and attempts by murder, arson and robbery to right the wrongs of the social order. For a while he believes that he is doing a noble work. When he learns how he has been deluded he gives himself up to the law. The effect of the play is that of tremendous power unchecked by any of the restraints of art. The plot is incredible, the language tense with turbulent passion, and the characters are extravagantly overdrawn. But the genius of the born dramatist is there. It is all vividly seen and powerfully bodied forth. What is more important, the play marks the birth of a new type—the tragedy of fanaticism. We are left at the end with a heightened feeling for the mysterious tangle of human destiny which makes it possible for a really noble nature such as Karl Moor to go thus disastrously wrong.
Toward the end of 1780 Schiller left the academy and was made doctor to a regiment of soldiers consisting largely of invalids. He dosed them with drastic medicines according to his light, but the service was disagreeable and the pay very small. To make a stir in the world he borrowed money and published The Robbers as a book for the reader, with a preface in which he spoke rather slightingly of the theatre. The book came out in the spring of 1781—with a rampant lion and the motto in Tirannos on the title-page. Ere long it came to the attention of Dalberg, director of the theatre at Mannheim, who saw its dramatic qualities and requested its author to revise it for the stage. This Schiller readily consented to do. To please Dalberg he set the action back from the eighteenth to the sixteenth century and made many minor changes. The revised play was performed at Mannheim on January 12, 1782, with ever-memorable success. The audience, assembled from far and near, went wild with enthusiasm. No such triumph had been achieved before on a German stage. The author himself saw the performance, having come over from Stuttgart without leave of absence. For this breach of discipline, or rather for a repetition of the offense in May, he was sent to the guardhouse for a fortnight and forbidden to write any more plays. The consequence was a clandestine flight from a situation that had become intolerable. In September, 1782, he escaped from Stuttgart with his loyal friend Streicher and took his way northward toward the Palatinate. He had set his hopes on finding employment in Mannheim.
Before leaving his native Swabia he had virtually completed a second play dealing with the conspiracy of Count Fiesco at Genoa in the year 1547. He had also won his spurs as a poet and a critic. His Anthology for 1782 contains a large number of short poems, some of them evincing a rare talent for dramatic story-telling, others foreshadowing the imaginative sweep and the warmth of feeling which characterize the best poetic work of the later Schiller. Such, notably, are the poems to Laura, in which the lover's raptures are linked with the law of gravitation and the preestablished harmony of the world. He also contributed several papers to the Wuerttemberg Repertorium, especially a review of The Robbers in which, dissecting his own child with remorseless impartiality, he anticipated nearly everything that critics were destined to urge against the play during the next hundred years. Having left his post of duty and being a military officer, Schiller was technically a deserter and had reason to fear pursuit and arrest. At Mannheim his affairs went badly. The politic Dalberg was not eager to befriend a youth who had offended the powerful Duke of Wuerttemberg; so Fiesco was rejected and its author came into dire straits. Toward the close of the year he found a welcome refuge at Bauerbach, where a house was put at his disposal by his friend Frau von Wolzogen. Here he remained several months, occupied mainly with a new play which came to be known as Cabal and Love. He also sketched a historical tragedy, Don Carlos, being led to the subject by his reading of St. Real's historical novel Don Carlos. During the first part of his stay at Bauerbach Schiller went by the name of Dr. Ritter and wrote purposely misleading letters as to his intended movements. By the summer of 1783, however, it had become apparent that the Duke of Wuerttemberg was not going to make trouble. Relieved of anxiety on this score, and not having had very good success of late with his theatre, Dalberg reopened negotiations with Schiller, who was easily persuaded to emerge from his hiding-place and become theatre-poet at Mannheim under contract for one year.
During this year at Mannheim Fiesco and Cabal and Love were put on the stage and published. The former is a quasi-historical tragedy of intriguing ambition, ending—in the original version—with the death of Fiesco at the hands of the fanatical republican Verrina. While there is much to admire in its abounding vigor and its picturesque details, Fiesco lacks artistic finality and is the least interesting of Schiller's early plays. Much more important is Cabal and Love, a domestic tragedy that has held the stage to this day and is generally regarded as the best of its kind in the eighteenth-century German drama. Class conflict is the tragic element. A maid of low degree and her high-minded, aristocratic lover are done to death by a miserable court intrigue. Far more than in The Robbers Schiller was here writing with his eye on the facts. Much Wuerttemberg history is thinly disguised in this drastic comment on the crimes, follies and banalities of German court life under the Old Regime.
Notwithstanding his success as a playwright and his receipt of the honorable title of Councilor from the Duke of Weimar, Schiller was unhappy at Mannheim. Sickness, debt and loneliness oppressed him, making creative work well-nigh impossible. In June, 1784, when the sky was looking very black, he received a heartening letter from a quartet of unknown admirers in Leipzig, one of whom was Gottfried Koerner. Schiller was deeply touched. In his hunger for sympathy and friendship he resolved to leave Mannheim and seek out these good people who had shown such a kindly interest in him. Fortunately Koerner was a man of some means and was able to help not only with words but with cash. So it came about that in the spring of 1785 Schiller forsook Mannheim, which had become as a prison to him, and went to Leipzig. Thence, after a short sojourn, he followed Koerner to Dresden. The relation between the two men developed into a warm and mutually inspiring friendship. A feeling of jubilant happiness took possession of Schiller and soon found expression in the Song to Joy, wherein a kiss of love and sympathy is offered to all mankind.
During his two years' sojourn in Dresden Schiller was mainly occupied with the editing of a magazine, the Thalia, and with the completion of Don Carlos, the first of his plays in blank verse. Hitherto he had written with his eye on the stage, and in the savage spirit of the Storm and Stress. Now, however, the higher ambition of the dramatic poet began to assert itself. His views of life were changing, and his nature craved a freer and nobler self-expression than was possible in the "three hours' traffic of the stage." He had begun Don Carlos at Bauerbach, intending to make it a love-tragedy in a royal household and incidentally to scourge the Spanish inquisition. Little by little, however, the centre of his interest shifted from the lovesick Carlos to the quixotic dreamer Posa, and the result was that the love-tragedy gradually grew into a tragedy of political idealism with Posa for its hero. As finally completed in the summer of 1787, Don Carlos had twice the length of an ordinary stage-play and, withal, a certain lack of artistic unity. But its sonorous verse, its fine phrasing of large ideas, and its noble dignity of style settled forever the question of Schiller's power as a dramatic poet. The third act especially is instinct with the best idealism of the eighteenth century.
After Don Carlos Schiller wrote no more plays for some nine years, being occupied in the interval chiefly with history and philosophy. His dramatic work had interested him more especially in the sixteenth century. At Dresden he began to read history with great avidity and found it very appetizing. What he most cared for, evidently, was not the annals of warfare or the growth of institutions, but the psychology of the great man. He was an ardent lover of freedom, both political and intellectual, and took keen delight in tracing its progress. On the other hand, play-writing had its disadvantages. Thus far it had brought him more of notoriety than of solid fame, and his income was so small that he was dependent on Koerner's generosity. To escape from this irksome position he decided to try his fortune in Thuringia. Going over to Weimar, in the summer of 1787, he was well received by Herder and Wieland—Goethe was just then in Italy—and presently he settled down to write a history of the Dutch Rebellion. His plan looked forward to six volumes, but only one was ever written. It was published in 1788 under the title of The Defection of the Netherlands and led to its author's appointment as unsalaried professor of history at the University of Jena. He began to lecture in the spring of 1789.
Meanwhile he had taken up the study of the Greek poets and found them very edifying and sanative—just the influence that he needed to clarify his judgment and correct his earlier vagaries of taste. He was fascinated by the Odyssey and in a mood of fleeting enthusiasm he resolved to read nothing but the ancients for the next two years. He translated the Iphigenia in Aulis of Euripides and a part of The Phenician Women. Out of this newborn ardor grew two important poems, The Gods of Greece and The Artists; the former an elegy on the decay of Greek polytheism conceived as a loss of beauty to the world, the latter a philosophic retrospect of human history wherein the evolutionary function of art is glorified. At the same time he revived the dormant Thalia and used its columns for the continued publication of The Ghost-seer, a pot-boiling novel which he had begun at Dresden. It is Schiller's one serious attempt at prose fiction. His initial purpose was to describe an elaborate and fine-spun intrigue, devised by mysterious agents of the Church of Rome, for the winning over of a Protestant German prince. The story begins in a promising way, and the later portions contain fine passages of narrative and character-drawing. But its author presently began to feel that it was unworthy of him and left it unfinished.
On the 22d of February, 1790, Schiller was married to Lotte von Lengefeld, with whom he lived most happily the rest of his days. His letters of this period tell of a quiet joy such as he had not known before. And then, suddenly, his fair prospects were clouded by the disastrous breakdown of his health. An attack of pneumonia in the winter of 1790-1791 came near to a fatal ending, and hardly had he recovered from that before he was prostrated by a second illness worse than the first. He bade farewell to his friends, and the report went abroad that he was dead. After a while he rallied, but never again to be strong and well. From this time forth he must be thought of as a semi-invalid, doomed to a very cautious mode of living and expectant of an early death. It was to be a fourteen years' battle between a heroic soul and an ailing body.
For a while, owing to the forced cessation of the literary work on which his small income depended, he was in great distress for lack of money. His wife, while of noble family, had brought nothing but herself to the marriage partnership. And then, just as in the dark days at Mannheim in 1784, help seemed to come from the clouds. Two Danish noblemen, ardent admirers quite unknown to him personally, heard of his painful situation and offered him a pension of a thousand thalers a year for three years. No conditions whatever were attached to the gift; he was simply to follow his inclination, free from all anxiety about a livelihood. Without hesitation he accepted the gift and thus found himself, for the first time in his life, really free to do as he chose. What he chose was to use his freedom for a grapple with Kant's philosophy. Today this seems a strange choice for a sick poet, but let Schiller himself explain what lay in his mind. He wrote to Koerner:
"It is precisely for the sake of artistic creation that I wish to philosophize. Criticism must repair the damage it has done me. And it has done me great damage indeed; for I miss in myself these many years that boldness, that living fire, that was mine before I knew a rule. Now I see myself in the act of creating and fashioning; I observe the play of inspiration, and my imagination works less freely, since it is conscious of being watched. But if I once reach the point where artistic procedure becomes natural, like education for the well-nurtured man, then my fancy will get back its old freedom and know no bounds but those of its own making."
From these words we understand the nature of Schiller's enterprise—he wished to fathom the laws of beauty. It seemed to him that beauty could not be altogether a matter of changing taste, opinion, and fashion; that somehow or other it must be grounded in eternal laws either of the external world or of human nature. He felt, too, that a knowledge of these laws, could it once become second nature, would be very helpful to him as a dramatic poet. Whether he was right in so thinking is a question too large to be discussed here, nor can we follow him in the details of his esthetic speculation. The subject is too abstruse to be dispatched in a few words. Suffice it to say that a number of minor papers, the most important being On Winsomeness and Dignity (Ueber Anmut and Wuerde) and On the Sublime, prepared the way for a more popular exposition of his views in the Letters on Esthetic Education and in the memorable essay On Naive and Sentimental Poetry, which deserves to be called, next to Lessing's Laocoon, the weightiest critical essay of the eighteenth century. The Letters contain a ripe and pleasing statement of Schiller's philosophy in its relation to the culture-problems of his epoch.
Along with these philosophic studies Schiller found time for much work more closely related to his professorship of history. To say nothing of his minor historical writings, he completed, in 1793, his History of the Thirty Years' War. It appeared in successive numbers of Goeschen's Ladies' Calendar, a fact which in itself indicates that it was not conceived and should not be judged as a monument of research. The aim was to tell the story of the great war in a readable style. And in this Schiller succeeded, especially in the parts relating to his hero, the Swedish king Gustav Adolf. Over Schiller's merit as a historian there has been much debate, and good critics have caviled at his sharp contrasts and his lack of care in matters of detail. But the great fact remains that the Defection of the Netherlands and the Thirty Years' War are the earliest historical classics in the German language. Schiller was the first German to make literature out of history.
The year 1794 brought about a closer relation between Schiller and Goethe, an event of prime moment in the lives of both. On Goethe's return from Italy, in the summer of 1788, Schiller was introduced to him, but the meeting had no immediate consequences. In fact, Schiller had quietly made up his mind not to like the man whom, for a whole year, he had heard constantly lauded by the Weimar circle. He thought of Goethe as a proud, self-centred son of fortune, with whom friendship would be impossible. Goethe, on the other hand, was not drawn to the author of The Robbers. He looked on the popularity of the detestable play as a shocking evidence of depraved public taste and was not aware how its author had changed since writing it. So it came about that, for some six years, the two men lived as neighbors in space but strangers in the spirit. At last, however, an accidental meeting in Jena led to an interchange of views and prepared the way for the most memorable of literary friendships.
By this time Schiller had undertaken the editorship of a new literary magazine to be called Die Horen, which was to be financed by the enterprising publisher Cotta in Stuttgart. The plan was that it should eclipse all previous undertakings of its kind. But it was to eschew politics. Germany was just then agitated by the fierce passions of the revolutionary epoch, and this excitement was regarded by Schiller as ominous for the nation. There was need of esthetic education. So he proposed to keep the Horen clear of politics and try to divert the minds of men into the serener regions of letters and art. To Goethe, who also hated the Revolution, this was a highly acceptable program. So he readily undertook to write for the Horen, and thus he and Schiller soon became linked together in the public mind as allied champions of a cause. It is for this reason that the Germans are wont to call them the Dioscuri.
By way of signalizing their community of interest the Dioscuri presently began to write satirical distichs at the expense of men and tendencies that they did not like. For example:
Gentlemen, keep your seats! for the curs but covet your places, Elegant places to hear all the other dogs bark.
The making of these more or less caustic epigrams amused them. Sometimes one would suggest the topic and the other write the distich; again, one would do the hexameter, the other the pentameter. They agreed that neither should ever claim separate property in the Xenia, as they were called. The number grew apace, until it reached nearly a thousand. About half the number on hand were published in 1797 in Schiller's Musenalmanach and had the effect of setting all Germany agog with curiosity, rage or solemn glee. Some of those hit replied in kind or in vicious attacks, and for a little while there was great excitement. But having discharged their broadside Goethe and Schiller did not further pursue the ignoble warfare. They wisely came to the conclusion that the best way to elevate the public taste was not to assail the bad in mordant personal epigrams, but to exemplify the good in creative work.
After his nine years of fruitful wandering in other fields Schiller returned at last, in 1796, to dramatic poetry. Once more it came in his way to write for the stage, since Goethe was now director of the Weimar theatre. After some hesitation between Wallenstein and The Knights of Malta, both of which had long haunted his thoughts, he decided in favor of the former. It occupied him for three years and finally left his hands as a long affair in three parts. Yet it is not a trilogy in the proper sense, but a play in ten acts, preceded by a dramatic prelude. At first Schiller found the material refractory. The actual Wallenstein had never exhibited truly heroic qualities of any kind, and his history involved only the cold passions of ambition, envy, and vindictiveness. Whether he was really guilty of treason was a moot question which admitted of no partisan treatment. But Schiller's genius triumphed splendidly over the difficulties inherent in the subject. In the Camp we get a picturesque view of the motley soldatesca which was the basis of Wallenstein's power and prestige. In The Piccolomini we see the nature of the dangerous game he is playing, and in Wallenstein's Death the unheroic hero becomes very impressive in his final discomfiture and his pitiable taking-off. The love-tragedy of Max and Thekla casts a mellow light of romance over the otherwise austere political action.
During the years 1795-1800 Schiller wrote a large number of short poems in which he gave expression to his matured philosophy of life. His best ballads also belong to this period. Pure song he did not often attempt, his philosophic bent predisposing him to what the Germans call the lyric of thought. Perhaps his invalidism had something to do with it; at any rate the total number of his singable lyrics, such as The Maiden's Lament, is but small. As a poet of reflection he is at his best in The Ideal and Life, The Walk, The Eleusinian Festival, and the more popular Song of the Bell. The first-named of these four, at first called The Realm of Shades, is a masterpiece of high thinking, charged with warm emotion and bodied forth in gorgeous imagery. Its doctrine is that only by taking refuge in the realm of the Ideal can we escape from the tyranny of the flesh, the bondage of Nature's law, the misery of struggle and defeat. Yet it is not a doctrine of quietism that is here preached, as if inner peace were the supreme thing in life, but rather one of hopeful endeavor. The Walk, one of the finest elegies in the German language, is a pensive retrospect of the origins of civilization, loving contemplation of Nature giving rise to reflections on man and his estate. The Song of the Bell, probably the best known of all Schiller's poems, gives expression to his feeling for the dignity of labor and for the poetry of man's social life. Perhaps we may say that the heart of his message is found in this stanza of The Words of Illusion:
And so, noble soul, forget not the law, And to the true faith be leal; What ear never heard and eye never saw, The Beautiful, the True, they are real. Look not without, as the fool may do; It is in thee and ever created anew.
In 1797—Hermann and Dorothea was just then under way—Goethe and Schiller interchanged views by letter on the subject of epic poetry in general and the ballad in particular. As they had both written ballads in their youth, it was but natural that they should be led to fresh experiments with the species. So they both began to make ballads for next year's Musenalmanach. Schiller contributed five, among them the famous Diver and The Cranes of Ibycus. In after years he wrote several more, of which the best, perhaps, are The Pledge, a stirring version of the Damon and Pythias story, and The Battle with the Dragon, which, however, was called a romanza instead of a ballad. The interest of all these poems turns mainly, of course, on the story, but also, in no small degree, on the splendid art which the poet displays. They are quite unlike any earlier German ballads, owing nothing to the folk-song and making no use of the uncanny, the gruesome, or the supernatural. There is no mystery in them, no resort to verbal tricks such as Buerger had employed in Lenore. The subjects are not derived from German folk-lore, but from Greek legend or medieval romance. Their great merit is the strong and vivid, yet always noble, style with which the details are set forth.
We come back now to the province of art in which Schiller himself felt that his strength lay, and to which he devoted nearly all his strength during his remaining years. The very successful performance of the complete Wallenstein in the spring of 1799 added greatly to his prestige, for discerning judges could see that something extraordinary had been achieved. Weimar had by this time become the acknowledged centre of German letters, and its modest little theatre now took on fresh glory. Schiller had made himself very useful as a translator and adapter, and Goethe was disposed to lean heavily on his friend's superior knowledge of stage-craft. In order to be nearer to the theatre and its director, Schiller moved over to Weimar in December, 1799, and took up his abode in what is now called the Schillerstrasse. He was already working at Mary Stuart, which was finished the following spring and first played on June 14, 1800.
In Mary Stuart, as in Wallenstein, Schiller focused his light on a famous personage who was the subject of passionate controversy. But of course he did not wish to make a Catholic play, or a Protestant play, or to have its effect dependent in any way on the spectator's pre-assumed attitude toward the purely political questions involved. So he decided to omit Mary's trial and to let the curtain rise on her as a prisoner waiting for the verdict of her judges. This meant, however, according to his conception of the tragic art, a pathetic rather than a tragic situation; for the queen's fate would be a foregone conclusion, and she could do nothing to avert it. To give her the semblance of a tragic guilt he resorted to three unhistorical inventions: First, an attempt to escape, with resulting complicity in the act of the murderous Catholic fanatic Mortimer; second, a putative love on the part of Mary for Leicester, who would use his great influence to bring about a personal interview between her and Elizabeth; and, finally, the meeting of the two queens, in which Mary's long pent-up passion would get the better of her discretion and betray her into a mortal insult of her rival. In reality, however, the meeting of the two queens, while theatrically very effective, is not the true climax of the play. That comes when Mary conquers her rebellious spirit and accepts her ignominious fate as a divinely appointed expiation for long-past sins. The play thus becomes a tragedy of moral self-conquest in the presence of an undeserved death.
Next in order came The Maid of Orleans, expressly called by its author a romantic tragedy. It is a "rescue" of the Maid's character. Shakespeare had depicted her as a witch, Voltaire as a vulgar fraud. Schiller conceives her as a genuine ambassadress of God, or rather of the Holy Virgin. Not only does he accept at its face value the tradition of her "voices," her miraculous clairvoyance, her magic influence on the French troops; but he makes her fight in the ranks with men and gives to her a terrible avenging sword, before which no Englishman can stand. But she, too, had to have her tragic guilt. So Schiller makes her supernatural power depend—by the Virgin's express command—on her renunciation of the love of man. A fleeting passion for the English general Lionel, conceived on the battle-field in the fury of combat, fills her with remorse and the sense of treason to her high mission. For a while she is deprived of her self-confidence, and with it of her supernatural power. There follow scenes of bitter humiliation, until her expiation is complete. At last, purified by suffering, she recovers her divine strength, breaks her fetters, brings victory once more to the disheartened French soldiers, and dies in glory on the field of battle. One sees that it is not at all the real Jeanne d'Arc that Schiller depicts, but a glorified heroine invested with divine power and called to be the savior of her country. Here, for the first time in German drama, the passion of patriotism plays an important part.
After the completion of The Maid of Orleans Schiller was minded to try his hand on a tragedy "in the strictest Greek form." He had been deeply impressed by the art of Sophocles and wished to create something which should produce on the modern mind the effect of a Greek tragedy, with its simple structure, its few characters, and above all its chorus. But the choice of a subject was not easy, and for several months he occupied himself with other matters. He made a German version of Gozzi's Turandot and took notes for a tragedy about Perkin Warbeck. In the summer of 1802 he decided definitely to carry out his plan of vying with the Greeks. The Bride of Messina was finished in February, 1803. While he was working at it there arrived one day—it was in November, 1802—a patent of nobility from the chancelry of the Holy Roman Empire. It may be noted in passing that several years before he had been made an honorary citizen of the French Republic, his name having been presented at the same time with those of Washington, Wilberforce, and Kosciusko.
Among the later plays of Schiller The Bride of Messina is the one which shows his stately poetic diction at its best, but has proved least acceptable on the stage. As we have seen, it was an artistic experiment. A medieval prince of Messina has an ominous dream which is interpreted by an Arab astrologer to mean that a daughter to be born will cause the death of his two sons, thus making an end of his dynasty. When the child is born he orders it put to death. But meanwhile his queen has had a dream of contrary import, and thereby saves the life of her new-born daughter, but has her brought up remote from the court. In time the two quarrelsome brothers, ignorant that they have a sister, fall in love with the girl. One slays the other in a frenzy of jealous rage, the other commits suicide in remorse. This invention can hardly be called plausible. Indeed, so far as the mere fable is concerned, it is a house of cards which would collapse any moment at the breath of common sense. One must remember in reading the play that common sense was not one of the nine muses. The dreams take the place of the Delphic oracle, and the Greek chorus is represented by two semi-choruses, the retainers of the quarreling brothers, who speak their parts by the mouth of a leader, at one moment taking part in the action, at another delivering the detached comment of the ideal spectator. There is much splendid poetry in these pseudo-choruses, but it was impossible that such a scheme should produce the effect of the Greek choral dance.
Did Schiller feel that in The Bride of Messina he had wandered a little too far away from the vital concerns of modern life? Probably, for he next set to work on a play which should be popular in the best sense of the word—William Tell. It is his one play with a happy ending and has always been a prime favorite on the stage. The hero is the Swiss people, and the action idealizes the legendary uprising of the Forest Cantons against their Austrian governors. There are really three separate actions: the conspiracy, the love-affair of Bertha and Rudenz, the exploits of William Tell. All, however, contribute to the common end, which is the triumph of the Swiss people over their oppressors. The exposition is superb, there is rapidity of movement, variety, picturesqueness, the glamor of romance; and the feelings evoked are such as warm and keep warm the cockles of the heart. When the famous actor Iffland received the manuscript of the first act, in February, 1804, he wrote:
"I have read, devoured, bent my knee; and my heart, my tears, my rushing blood, have paid ecstatic homage to your spirit, to your heart. Oh, more! Soon, soon more! Pages, scraps—whatever you can send. I tender heart and hand to your genius. What a work! What wealth, power, poetic beauty, and irresistible force! God keep you! Amen."
With Tell off his hands Schiller next threw his tireless energy on a Russian subject—the story of Dmitri, reputed son of Ivan the Terrible. The reading, note-taking and planning proved a long laborious task, and there were many interruptions. In November, 1804, the hereditary Prince of Weimar brought home a Russian bride, Maria Paulovna, and for her reception he wrote The Homage of the Arts—a slight affair which served its purpose well. The reaction from these Russophil festivities left him in a weakened condition, and, feeling unequal to creative effort, he translated Racine's Phedre into German verse, finishing it in February, 1805. Then he returned with great zest to his Russian play Demetrius, of which enough was written to indicate that it might have become his masterpiece. But the flame had burnt itself out. Toward the end of April he took a cold which led to a violent fever with delirium. The end came on May 9, 1805.
No attempt can here be made at a general estimate of Schiller's dramatic genius. The serious poetic drama, such as he wrote in his later years, is no longer in favor anywhere. In Germany, as in our own land, the temper of the time is on the whole hostile to that form of art. We demand, very properly, a drama attuned to the life of the present; one occupied, as we say, with living issues. Yet Schiller is very popular on the German stage. After the lapse of a century, and notwithstanding the fact that he seems to speak to us from the clouds, he holds his own. Why is this? It is partly because of a quality of his art that has been called his "monumental fresco-painting"; that is, his strong and luminous portraiture of the great historic forces that have shaped the destiny of nations. These forces are matters of the spirit, of the inner life; and they persist from age to age, but little affected by the changing fashion of the theatre. The reader of Schiller soon comes to feel that he deals with issues that are alive because they are immortal.
Another important factor in his classicity is the suggestion that goes out from his idealized personality. German sentiment has set him on a high pedestal and made a hero of him, so that his word is not exactly as another man's word. Something of this was felt by those about him even in his lifetime. Says Karoline von Wolzogen: "High seriousness and the winsome grace of a pure and noble soul were always present in Schiller's conversation; in listening to him one walked as among the changeless stars of heaven and the flowers of earth." This is the tribute of a partial friend, but it describes very well the impression produced by Schiller's writings. His love of freedom and beauty, his confidence in reason, his devotion to the idea of humanity, seem to exhale from his work and to invest it with a peculiar distinction. His plays and poems are a priceless memento to the spirit of a great and memorable epoch. Hundreds of writers have said their say about him, but no better word has been spoken than the noble tribute of Goethe:
For he was ours. So let the note of pride Hush into silence all the mourner's ruth; In our safe harbor he was fain to bide And build for aye, after the storm of youth. We saw his mighty spirit onward stride To eternal realms of Beauty and of Truth; While far behind him lay fantasmally The vulgar things that fetter you and me.
* * * * *
[Footnote 1: Translated by Edward, Lord Lytton.]
[Footnote 2: This Sonnet, by the author of this sketch of Schiller's life, was written for the Chicago Schiller Celebration of 1905, but has not been printed before. EDITOR.]
* * * * *
[All poems in this section are translations by Edward, Lord Lytton, and appear by permission of George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., London.]
* * * * *
TO THE IDEAL (1795)
Then wilt thou, with thy fancies holy— Wilt thou, faithless, fly from me? With thy joy, thy melancholy, Wilt thou thus relentless flee? O Golden Time, O Human May, Can nothing, Fleet One, thee restraint? Must thy sweet river glide away Into the eternal Ocean Main?
The suns serene are lost and vanish'd That wont the path of youth to gild, And all the fair Ideals banish'd From that wild heart they whilome fill'd. Gone the divine and sweet believing In dreams which Heaven itself unfurl'd! What godlike shapes have years bereaving Swept from this real work-day world!
As once, with tearful passion fired, The Cyprian Sculptor clasp'd the stone, Till the cold cheeks, delight-inspired, Blush'd—to sweet life the marble grown: So youth's desire for Nature!—round The Statue so my arms I wreathed, Till warmth and life in mine it found, And breath that poets breathe—it breathed;
With my own burning thoughts it burn'd;— Its silence stirr'd to speech divine;— Its lips my glowing kiss return'd— Its heart in beating answer'd mine! How fair was then the flower—the tree!— How silver-sweet the fountain's fall! The soulless had a soul to me! My life its own life lent to all!
The Universe of things seem'd swelling The panting heart to burst its bound, And wandering Fancy found a dwelling In every shape, thought, deed, and sound. Germ'd in the mystic buds, reposing, A whole creation slumbered mute, Alas, when from the buds unclosing, How scant and blighted sprung the fruit!
How happy in his dreaming error, His own gay valor for his wing, Of not one care as yet in terror Did Youth upon his journey spring; Till floods of balm, through air's dominion, Bore upward to the faintest star— For never aught to that bright pinion Could dwell too high, or spread too far.
Though laden with delight, how lightly The wanderer heavenward still could soar, And aye the ways of life how brightly The airy Pageant danced before! Love, showering gifts (life's sweetest) down, Fortune, with golden garlands gay, And Fame, with starbeams for a crown, And Truth, whose dwelling is the Day.
Ah! midway soon lost evermore, Afar the blithe companions stray; In vain their faithless steps explore, As one by one, they glide away. Fleet Fortune was the first escaper— The thirst for wisdom linger'd yet; But doubts with many a gloomy vapor The sun-shape of the Truth beset!
The holy crown which Fame was wreathing, Behold! the mean man's temples wore, And, but for one short spring-day breathing, Bloom'd Love—the Beautiful—no more! And ever stiller yet, and ever The barren path more lonely lay, Till scarce from waning Hope could quiver A glance along the gloomy way.
Who, loving, lingered yet to guide me, When all her boon companions fled, Who stands consoling yet beside me, And follows to the House of Dread? Thine FRIENDSHIP—thine the hand so tender, Thine the balm dropping on the wound, Thy task the load more lightly to render— O! earliest sought and soonest found!
And Thou, so pleased, with her uniting, To charm the soul-storm into peace, Sweet TOIL, in toil itself delighting, That more it labored, less could cease; Tho' but by grains thou aid'st the pile The vast Eternity uprears, At least thou strik'st from Time the while Life's debt—the minutes, days and years.
* * * * *
THE VEILED IMAGE AT SAIS (1795)
A youth, whom wisdom's warm desire had lured To learn the secret lore of Egypt's priests, To Sais came. And soon, from step to step Of upward mystery, swept his rapid soul! Still ever sped the glorious Hope along, Nor could the parch'd Impatience halt, appeased By the calm answer of the Hierophant— "What have I, if I have not all," he sigh'd; "And giv'st thou but the little and the more? Does thy truth dwindle to the gauge of gold, A sum that man may smaller or less small Possess and count—subtract or add to—still? Is not TRUTH one and indivisible? Take from the Harmony a single tone A single tint take from the Iris bow— And lo! what once was all, is nothing—while Fails to the lovely whole one tint or tone!"
They stood within the temple's silent dome, And, as the young man paused abrupt, his gaze Upon a veil'd and giant IMAGE fell: Amazed he turn'd unto his guide—"And what Towers, yonder, vast beneath the veil?" "THE TRUTH," Answered the Priest. "And have I for the truth Panted and struggled with a lonely soul, And yon the thin and ceremonial robe That wraps her from mine eyes?" Replied the Priest, "There shrouds herself the still Divinity. Hear, and revere her best: 'Till I this veil Lift—may no mortal-born presume to raise; And who with guilty and unhallow'd hand Too soon profanes the Holy and Forbidden— He,' says the goddess."— "Well?" "'SHALL SEE THE TRUTH!'" "And wond'rous oracle; and hast thou never Lifted the veil?" "No! nor desired to raise!" "What! nor desired? O strange, incurious heart, Here the thin barrier—there reveal'd the truth!" Mildly return'd the priestly master: "Son, More mighty than thou dream'st of, Holy Law Spreads interwoven in yon slender web, Air-light to touch—lead-heavy to the soul!"
The young man, thoughtful, turn'd him to his home, And the sharp fever of the Wish to Know Robb'd night of sleep. Around his couch he roll'd, Till midnight hatch'd resolve— "Unto the shrine!" Stealthily on, the involuntary tread Bears him—he gains the boundary, scales the wall, And midway in the inmost, holiest dome, Strides with adventurous step the daring man.
Now halts he where the lifeless Silence sleeps In the embrace of mournful Solitude;— Silence unstirr'd—save where the guilty tread Call'd the dull echo from mysterious vaults!
High from the opening of the dome above, Came with wan smile the silver-shining moon. And, awful as some pale presiding god, Dim-gleaming through the hush of that large gloom, In its wan veil the Giant Image stood.
With an unsteady step he onward past, Already touch'd the violating hand The Holy—and recoil'd! a shudder thrill'd His limbs, fire-hot and icy-cold in turns, As if invisible arms would pluck the soul Back from the deed. "O miserable man! What would'st thou?" (Thus within the inmost heart Murmur'd the warning whisper.) "Wilt thou dare The All-hallow'd to profane? 'No mortal-born' (So spake the oracular word)—'may lift the veil Till I myself shall raise!' Yet said it not— The same oracular word—'who lifts the veil Shall see the truth?' Behind, be what there may, I dare the hazard—I will lift the veil—" Loud rang his shouting voice—"and I will see!" "SEE!" A lengthen'd echo, mocking, shrill'd again! He spoke and rais'd the veil! And ask'st thou what Unto the sacrilegious gaze lay bare? I know not—pale and senseless, stretch'd before The statue of the great Egyptian queen, The priests beheld him at the dawn of day; But what he saw, or what did there befall, His lips reveal'd not. Ever from his heart Was fled the sweet serenity of life, And the deep anguish dug the early grave "Woe—woe to him"—such were his warning words, Answering some curious and impetuous brain, "Woe—for her face shall charm him never more! Woe—woe to him who treads through Guilt to TRUTH!"
* * * * *
THE IDEAL AND THE ACTUAL LIFE (1795)
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.
Seek'st 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 pluck'd 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 each 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 cramp'd 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 pil'd, Chafed while confin'd, 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, bow'd 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 today, He went undaunted to the black-brow'd 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!
* * * * *
Do I believe, thou ask'st, the Master's word, The Schoolman's shibboleth that binds the herd? To the soul's haven is there but one chart? Its peace a problem to be learned by art? On system rest the happy and the good? To base the temple must the props be wood? Must I distrust the gentle law, imprest, To guide and warn, by Nature on the breast, Till, squared to rule the instinct of the soul,— Till the School's signet stamp the eternal scroll, Till in one mold some dogma hath confined The ebb and flow—the light waves—of the mind? Say thou, familiar to these depths of gloom, Thou, safe ascended from the dusty tomb, Thou, who hast trod these weird Egyptian cells— Say—if Life's comfort with yon mummies dwells!— Say—and I grope—with saddened steps indeed— But on, thro' darkness, if to Truth it lead!
Nay, Friend, thou know'st the golden time—the age Whose legends live in many a poet's page? When heavenlier shapes with Man walked side by side, And the chaste Feeling was itself a guide; Then the great law, alike divine amid Suns bright in Heaven, or germs in darkness hid— That silent law—(call'd whether by the name Of Nature or Necessity, the same), To that deep sea, the heart, its movement gave— Sway'd the full tide, and freshened the free wave. Then sense unerring—because unreproved— True as the finger on the dial moved, Half-guide, half-playmate, of Earth's age of youth, The sportive instinct of Eternal Truth. Then, nor Initiate nor Profane were known; Where the Heart felt—there Reason found a throne: Not from the dust below, but life around Warm Genius shaped what quick Emotion found. One rule, like light, for every bosom glowed, Yet hid from all the fountain whence it flowed. But, gone that blessed Age!—our wilful pride Has lost, with Nature, the old peaceful Guide. Feeling, no more to raise us and rejoice, Is heard and honored as a Godhead's voice; And, disenhallowed in its eldest cell The Human Heart—lies mute the Oracle, Save where the low and mystic whispers thrill Some listening spirit more divinely still. There, in the chambers of the inmost heart, There, must the Sage explore the Magian's art; There, seek the long-lost Nature's steps to track, Till, found once more, she gives him Wisdom back! Hast thou—(O Blest, if so, whate'er betide!)— Still kept the Guardian Angel by thy side? Can thy Heart's guileless childhood yet rejoice In the sweet instinct with its warning voice? Does Truth yet limn upon untroubled eyes, Pure and serene, her world of Iris-dies? Rings clear the echo which her accent calls Back from the breast, on which the music falls? In the calm mind is doubt yet hush'd—and will That doubt tomorrow, as today, be still? Will all these fine sensations in their play, No censor need to regulate and sway? Fear'st thou not in the insidious Heart to find The source of Trouble to the limpid mind?
No!—then thine Innocence thy Mentor be! Science can teach thee naught—she learns from thee! Each law that lends lame succor to the Weak— The cripple's crutch—the vigorous need not seek! From thine own self thy rule of action draw; That which thou dost—what charms thee—is thy Law, And founds to every race a code sublime— What pleases Genius gives a Law to Time! The Word—the Deed—all Ages shall command, Pure if thy lip and holy if thy hand! Thou, thou alone mark'st not within thy heart The inspiring God whose Minister thou art, Know'st not the magic of the mighty ring Which bows the realm of Spirits to their King: But meek, nor conscious of diviner birth, Glide thy still footsteps thro' the conquered Earth!
* * * * *
[Under this title Schiller arranged that more dignified and philosophical portion of the small Poems published as Epigrams in the Musen Almanach; which rather sought to point a general thought, than a personal satire.—Many of these, however, are either wholly without interest for the English reader, or express in almost untranslatable laconism what, in far more poetical shapes, Schiller has elsewhere repeated and developed. We, therefore, content ourselves with such a selection as appears to us best suited to convey a fair notion of the object and spirit of the class.—Translator]
* * * * *
MOTTO TO THE VOTIVE TABLETS.
What the God taught—what has befriended all Life's ways, I place upon the Votive Wall.
* * * * *
THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
The Good's the Flower to Earth already given— The Beautiful, on Earth sows flowers from Heaven!
* * * * *
VALUE AND WORTH
If thou hast something, bring thy goods—a fair return be thine; If thou art something, bring thy soul and interchange with mine.
* * * * *
To know thyself—in others self discern; Wouldst thou know others? Read thyself—and learn!
* * * * *
THE DIVISION OF RANKS
Yes, in the moral world, as ours, we see Divided grades—a Soul's Nobility; By deeds their titles Commoners create— The loftier order are by birthright great.
* * * * *
TO THE MYSTIC
Spreads Life's true mystery round us evermore, Seen by no eye, it lies all eyes before.
* * * * *
WISDOM AND PRUDENCE
Wouldst thou the loftiest height of Wisdom gain? On to the rashness, Prudence would disdain; The purblind see but the receding shore, Not that to which the bold wave wafts thee o'er!
* * * * *
Truth seek we both—Thou, in the life without thee and around; I in the Heart within—by both can Truth alike be found; The healthy eye can through the world the great Creator track— The healthy heart is but the glass which gives creation back.
* * * * *
THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS
All that thou dost be right—to that alone confine thy view, And halt within the certain rule—the All that's right to do! True zeal the what already is would sound and perfect see; False zeal would sound and perfect make the something that's to be!
* * * * *
Of the Nebulae and planets do not babble so to me; What! is Nature only mighty inasmuch as you can see? Inasmuch as you can measure her immeasurable ways, As she renders world on world, sun and system to your gaze? Though through space your object be the Sublimest to embrace, Never the Sublime abideth—where you vainly search—in space!
* * * * *
THE BEST GOVERNED STATE
How the best state to know?—It is found out, Like the best women—that least talked about.
* * * * *
What thy religion? Those thou namest—none! None! Why?—Because I have religion!
* * * * *
FRIEND AND FOE
Dear is my friend—yet from my foe, as from my friend, comes good; My friend shows what I can do, and my foe shows what I should.
* * * * *
LIGHT AND COLOR
Dwell, Light, beside the changeless God—God spoke and Light began; Come, thou, the ever-changing one—come, Color, down to Man!
* * * * *
FORUM OF WOMEN
Woman—to judge man rightly—do not scan Each separate act;—pass judgment on the Man!
* * * * *
Intellect can repeat what's been fulfill'd, And, aping Nature, as she buildeth—build; O'er Nature's base can haughty Reason dare To pile its lofty castle—in the air. But only thine, O Genius, is the charge, In Nature's kingdom Nature to enlarge!
* * * * *
Good out of good—that art is known to all— But Genius from the bad the good can call; Then, Mimic, not from leading-strings escaped, Work'st but the matter that's already shaped The already-shaped a nobler hand awaits— All matter asks a Spirit that creates!
* * * * *
The calm correctness, where no fault we see, Attests Art's loftiest or its least degree; Alike the smoothness of the surface shows The Pool's dull stagner—the great Sea's repose.
* * * * *
The herd of scribes, by what they tell us, Show all in which their wits excel us; But the True Master we behold, In what his art leaves—just untold.
* * * * *
EXPECTATION AND FULFILLMENT
O'er Ocean, with a thousand masts, sails forth the stripling bold— One boat, hard rescued from the deep, draws into port the old!
* * * * *
THE PROSELYTE MAKER
"A little earth from out the Earth-and I The Earth will move:" so spake the Sage divine. Out of myself one little moment—try Myself to take:—succeed, and I am thine!
* * * * *
THE CONNECTING MEDIUM
What to cement the lofty and the mean Does Nature?—What?—Place vanity between?
* * * * *
THE MORAL POET
[This is an Epigram on Lavater's work, called "Pontius Pilatus, oder der Mensch in Allen Gestalten," etc.—TRANSLATOR.]
"How poor a thing is man!" Alas, 'tis true I'd half forgot it—when I chanced on you!
* * * * *
THE SUBLIME THEME
[Also on Lavater, and alluding to the "Jesus Messias, oder die Evangelien und Apostelgeschichte in Gesaengen."—TRANSLATOR.]
How God compassionates Mankind, thy muse, my friend, rehearses— Compassion for the sins of Man!—What comfort for thy verses!
* * * * *
To some she is the Goddess great, to some the milch-cow of the field; Their care is but to calculate—what butter she will yield.
* * * * *
KANT AND HIS COMMENTATORS
How many starvelings one rich man can nourish! When monarchs build, the rubbish-carriers flourish.
* * * * *
THE MAIDEN FROM AFAR (1796)
Within a vale, each infant year, When earliest larks first carol free, To humble shepherds doth appear A wondrous maiden, fair to see. Not born within that lowly place— From whence she wander'd, none could tell; Her parting footsteps left no trace, When once the maiden bade farewell.
And blessed was her presence there— Each heart, expanding, grew more gay; Yet something loftier still than fair Kept man's familiar looks away. From fairy gardens, known to none, She brought mysterious fruits and flowers— The things of some serener sun— Some Nature more benign than ours.
With each, her gifts the maiden shared— To some the fruits, the flowers to some; Alike the young, the aged fared; Each bore a blessing back to home. Though every guest was welcome there, Yet some the maiden held more dear, And cull'd her rarest sweets whene'er She saw two hearts that loved draw near.
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THE GLOVE (1797)
Before his lion-court, To see the gruesome sport, Sate the king; Beside him group'd his princely peers; And dames aloft, in circling tiers, Wreath'd round their blooming ring. King Francis, where he sate, Raised a finger—yawn'd the gate, And, slow from his repose, A LION goes! Dumbly he gazed around The foe-encircled ground; And, with a lazy gape, He stretch'd his lordly shape, And shook his careless mane, And—laid him down again!
A finger raised the king— And nimbly have the guard A second gate unbarr'd; Forth, with a rushing spring, A TIGER sprung! Wildly the wild one yell'd When the lion he beheld; And, bristling at the look, With his tail his sides he strook, And roll'd his rabid tongue; In many a wary ring He swept round the forest king, With a fell and rattling sound;— And laid him on the ground, Grommelling! The king raised his finger; then Leap'd two LEOPARDS from the den With a bound; And boldly bounded they Where the crouching tiger lay Terrible! And he gripped the beasts in his deadly hold; In the grim embrace they grappled and roll'd; Rose the lion with a roar! And stood the strife before; And the wild-cats on the spot, From the blood-thirst, wroth and hot, Halted still! Now from the balcony above, A snowy hand let fall a glove:— Midway between the beasts of prey, Lion and tiger; there it lay, The winsome lady's glove!
Fair Cunigonde said, with a lip of scorn, To the knight DELORGES—"If the love you have sworn Were as gallant and leal as you boast it to be, I might ask you to bring back that glove to me!"
The knight left the place where the lady sate; The knight he has pass'd thro' the fearful gate; The lion and tiger he stoop'd above, And his fingers have closed on the lady's glove!
All shuddering and stunn'd, they beheld him there— The noble knights and the ladies fair; But loud was the joy and the praise, the while He bore back the glove with his tranquil smile!
With a tender look in her softening eyes, That promised reward to his warmest sighs, Fair Cunigonde rose her knight to grace; He toss'd the glove in the lady's face! "Nay, spare me the guerdon, at least," quoth he; And he left forever that fair ladye!
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THE DIVER (1797)
[The original of the story on which Schiller has founded this ballad, matchless perhaps for the power and grandeur of its descriptions, is to be found in Kircher. According to the true principles of imitative art, Schiller has preserved all that is striking in the legend, and ennobled all that is common-place. The name of the Diver was Nicholas, surnamed the Fish. The King appears, according to Hoffmeister's probable conjectures, to have been either Frederic I. or Frederic II., of Sicily. Date from 1295 to 1377.]
"Oh, where is the knight or the squire so bold, As to dive to the howling charybdis below?— I cast in the whirlpool a goblet of gold, And o'er it already the dark waters flow; Whoever to me may the goblet bring, Shall have for his guerdon that gift of his king."
He spoke, and the cup from the terrible steep, That, rugged and hoary, hung over the verge Of the endless and measureless world of the deep, Swirl'd into the maelstrom that madden'd the surge. "And where is the diver so stout to go— I ask ye again—to the deep below?" And the knights and the squires that gather'd around, Stood silent—and fix'd on the ocean their eyes;
They look'd on the dismal and savage Profound, And the peril chill'd back every thought of the prize. And thrice spoke the monarch—"The cup to win, Is there never a wight who will venture in?"
And all as before heard in silence the king— Till a youth with an aspect unfearing but gentle, 'Mid the tremulous squires—stept out from the ring, Unbuckling his girdle, and doffing his mantle; And the murmuring crowd as they parted asunder, On the stately boy cast their looks of wonder.
As he strode to the marge of the summit, and gave One glance on the gulf of that merciless main; Lo! the wave that forever devours the wave Casts roaringly up the charybdis again; And, as with the swell of the far thunder-boom, Rushes foamingly forth from the heart of the gloom.
And it bubbles and seethes, and it hisses and roars, As when fire is with water commix'd and contending, And the spray of its wrath to the welkin up-soars, And flood upon flood hurries on, never-ending. And it never will rest, nor from travail be free, Like a sea that is laboring the birth of a sea.
Yet, at length, comes a lull O'er the mighty commotion, As the whirlpool sucks into black smoothness the swell Of the white-foaming breakers—and cleaves thro' the ocean A path that seems winding in darkness to hell. Round and round whirl'd the waves-deeper and deeper still driven, Like a gorge thro' the mountainous main thunder-riven!
The youth gave his trust to his Maker! Before That path through the riven abyss closed again— Hark! a shriek from the crowd rang aloft from the shore, And, behold! he is whirl'd in the grasp of the main! And o'er him the breakers mysteriously roll'd, And the giant-mouth closed on the swimmer so bold.
O'er the surface grim silence lay dark; but the crowd Heard the wail from the deep murmur hollow and fell; They hearken and shudder, lamenting aloud— "Gallant youth-noble heart-fare-thee-well, fare-thee-well!" More hollow and more wails the deep on the ear— More dread and more dread grows suspense in its fear.
If thou should'st in those waters thy diadem fling, And cry, "Who may find it shall win it and wear;" God wot, though the prize were the crown of a king— A crown at such hazard were valued too dear. For never shall lips of the living reveal What the deeps that howl yonder in terror conceal.
Oh, many a bark, to that breast grappled fast, Has gone down to the fearful and fathomless grave; Again, crash'd together the keel and the mast, To be seen, toss'd aloft in the glee of the wave. Like the growth of a storm, ever louder and clearer, Grows the roar of the gulf rising nearer and nearer.
And it bubbles and seethes, and it hisses and roars, As when fire is with water commix'd and contending; And the spray of its wrath to the welkin up-soars, And flood upon flood hurries on, never ending; And as with the swell of the far thunder-boom Rushes roaringly forth from the heart of the gloom.
And, lo! from the heart of that far-floating gloom, What gleams on the darkness so swanlike and white? Lo! an arm and a neck, glancing up from the tomb!— They battle—the Man's with the Element's might. It is he—it is he! In his left hand, behold! As a sign!—as a joy!—shines the goblet of gold!
And he breathed deep, and he breathed long, And he greeted the heavenly delight of the day. They gaze on each other—they shout, as they throng— "He lives—lo the ocean has render'd its prey! And safe from the whirlpool and free from the grave, Comes back to the daylight the soul of the brave!"
And he comes, with the crowd in their clamor and glee, And the goblet his daring has won from the water, He lifts to the king as he sinks on his knee;— And the king from her maidens has beckon'd his daughter— She pours to the boy the bright wine which they bring, And thus spake the Diver—"Long life to the king!
"Happy they whom the rose-hues of daylight rejoice, The air and the sky that to mortals are given! May the horror below never more find a voice— Nor Man stretch too far the wide mercy of Heaven! Never more—never more may he lift from the sight The veil which is woven with Terror and Night!
"Quick-brightening like lightning—it tore me along, Down, down, till the gush of a torrent, at play In the rocks of its wilderness, caught me—and strong As the wings of an eagle, it whirl'd me away. Vain, vain was my struggle—the circle had won me, Round and round in its dance, the wild element spun me.
"And I call'd on my God, and my God heard my prayer In the strength of my need, in the gasp of my breath— And show'd me a crag that rose up from the lair, And I clung to it, nimbly—and baffled the death! And, safe in the perils around me, behold On the spikes of the coral the goblet of gold!
"Below, at the foot of the precipice drear, Spread the gloomy, and purple, and pathless Obscure! A silence of Horror that slept on the ear, That the eye more appall'd might the Horror endure! Salamander—snake—dragon—vast reptiles that dwell In the deep-coil'd about the grim jaws of their hell.
"Dark-crawl'd—glided dark the unspeakable swarms, Clump'd together in masses, misshapen and vast— Here clung and here bristled the fashionless forms— Here the dark-moving bulk of the Hammer-fish pass'd— And with teeth grinning white, and a menacing motion, Went the terrible Shark—the Hyena of Ocean.
"There I hung, and the awe gather'd icily o'er me, So far from the earth, where man's help there was none! The One Human Thing, with the Goblins before me— Alone—in a loneness so ghastly—ALONE! Fathom-deep from man's eye in the speechless profound, With the death of the Main and the Monsters around.
"Methought, as I gazed through the darkness, that now IT saw—the dread hundred-limbed creature-its prey! And darted—O God! from the far flaming-bough Of the coral, I swept on the horrible way; And it seized me, the wave with its wrath and its roar, It seized me to save—King, the danger is o'er!"
On the youth gazed the monarch, and marvel'd; quoth he, "Bold Diver, the goblet I promised is thine, And this ring will I give, a fresh guerdon to thee, Never jewels more precious shone up from the mine, If thou'lt bring me fresh tidings, and venture again To tell what lies hid in the innermost main?"
Then outspake the daughter in tender emotion "Ah! father, my father, what more can there rest? Enough of this sport with the pitiless ocean— He has served thee as none would, thyself has confest. If nothing can slake thy wild thirst of desire, Let thy knights put to shame the exploit of the squire!"
The king seized the goblet—he swung it on high, And whirling, it fell in the roar of the tide: "But bring back that goblet again to my eye, And I'll hold thee the dearest that rides by my side; And thine arms shall embrace, as thy bride, I decree, The maiden whose pity now pleadeth for thee."
In his heart, as he listen'd, there leapt the wild joy— And the hope and the love through his eyes spoke in fire, On that bloom, on that blush, gazed delighted the boy; The maiden-she faints at the feet of her sire! Here the guerdon divine, there the danger beneath; He resolves! To the strife with the life and the death!
They hear the loud surges sweep back in their swell, Their coming the thunder-sound heralds along! Fond eyes yet are tracking the spot where he fell: They come, the wild waters, in tumult and throng, Roaring up to the cliff—roaring back, as before, But no wave ever brings the lost youth to the shore.
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THE CRANES OF IBYCUS (1797)
From Rhegium to the Isthmus, long Hallow'd to steeds and glorious song, Where, link'd awhile in holy peace, Meet all the sons of martial Greece— Wends Ibycus-whose lips the sweet And ever-young Apollo fires; The staff supports the wanderer's feet— The God the Poet's soul inspires!
Soon from the mountain-ridges high, The tower-crown'd Corinth greets his eye; In Neptune's groves of darksome pine, He treads with shuddering awe divine; Nought lives around him, save a swarm Of CRANES, that still pursued his way. Lured by the South, they wheel and form In ominous groups their wild array.
And "Hail! beloved Birds!" he cried; "My comrades on the ocean tide, Sure signs of good ye bode to me; Our lots alike would seem to be; From far, together borne, we greet A shelter now from toil and danger; And may the friendly hearts we meet Preserve from every ill—the Stranger!"
His step more light, his heart more gay, Along the mid-wood winds his way, When, where the path the thickets close, Burst sudden forth two ruffian foes; Now strife to strife, and foot to foot! Ah! weary sinks the gentle hand; The gentle hand that wakes the lute Has learn'd no lore that guides the brand.
He calls on men and Gods—in vain! His cries no blest deliverer gain; Feebler and fainter grows the sound, And still the deaf life slumbers round— "In the far land I fall forsaken, Unwept and unregarded, here; By death from caitiff hands o'ertaken, Nor ev'n one late avenger near!"
Down to the earth the death-stroke bore him— Hark, where the Cranes wheel dismal o'er him! He hears, as darkness veils his eyes, Near, in hoarse croak, their dirge-like cries. "Ye whose wild wings above me hover, (Since never voice, save yours alone, The deed can tell)—the hand discover— Avenge!"—He spoke, and life was gone.
Naked and maim'd the corpse was found— And, still through many a mangling wound, The sad Corinthian Host could trace The loved—too well-remember'd face. "And must I meet thee thus once more? Who hoped with wreaths of holy pine, Bright with new fame—the victory o'er— The Singer's temples to entwine!"
And loud lamented every guest Who held the Sea-God's solemn feast— As in a single heart prevailing, Throughout all Hellas went the wailing. Wild to the Council Hall they ran— In thunder rush'd the threat'ning Flood— "Revenge shall right the murder'd man, The last atonement-blood for blood!"
Yet 'mid the throng the Isthmus claims, Lured by the Sea-God's glorious games— The mighty many-nation'd throng— How track the hand that wrought the wrong?— How guess if that dread deed were done, By ruffian hands, or secret foes? He who sees all on earth—the SUN— Alone the gloomy secret knows.
Perchance he treads in careless peace, Amidst your Sons, assembled Greece; Hears with a smile revenge decreed; Gloats with fell joy upon the deed. His steps the avenging gods may mock Within the very Temple's wall, Or mingle with the crowds that flock To yonder solemn scenic hall.
Wedg'd close, and serried, swarms the crowd— Beneath the weight the walls are bow'd— Thitherwards streaming far, and wide, Broad Hellas flows in mingled tide tide— A tide like that which heaves the deep When hollow-sounding, shoreward driven; On, wave on wave, the thousands sweep Till arching, row on row, to heaven!
The tribes, the nations, who shall name, That guest-like, there assembled came? From Theseus' town, from Aulis' strand— From Phocis, from the Spartans' land— From Asia's wave-divided clime, The Isles that gem the AEgean Sea, To hearken on that Stage Sublime, The Dark Choir's mournful melody!
True to the awful rites of old, In long and measured strides, behold The Chorus from the hinder ground, Pace the vast circle's solemn round. So this World's women never strode— Their race from Mortals ne'er began; Gigantic, from their grim abode, They tower above the Sons of Man!
Across their loins the dark robe clinging, In fleshless hands the torches swinging, Now to and fro, with dark red glow— No blood that lives the dead cheeks know! Where flow the locks that woo to love On human temples—ghastly dwell The serpents, coil'd the brow above, And the green asps with poison swell.
Thus circling, horrible, within That space—doth their dark hymn begin, And round the sinner as they go, Cleave to the heart their words of woe. Dismally wails, the senses chilling, The hymn—the FURIES' solemn song; And froze the very marrow thrilling As roll'd the gloomy sounds along.
And weal to him—from crime secure— Who keeps his soul as childhood's pure; Life's path he roves, a wanderer free— We near him not-THE AVENGERS, WE, But woe to him for whom we weave The doom for deeds that shun the light: Fast to the murderer's feet we cleave, The fearful Daughters of the Night.
"And deems he flight from us can hide him? Still on dark wings We sail beside him! The murderer's feet the snare enthralls— Or soon or late, to earth he falls! Untiring, hounding on, we go; For blood can no remorse atone I On, ever—to the Shades below, And there—we grasp him, still our own!"
So singing, their slow dance they wreathe, And stillness, like a silent death, Heavily there lay cold and drear, As if the Godhead's self were near. Then, true to those strange rites of old, Pacing the circle's solemn round, In long and measured strides—behold, They vanish in the hinder ground!
Confused and doubtful—half between The solemn truth and phantom scene, The crowd revere the Power, presiding O'er secret deeps, to justice guiding— The Unfathom'd and Inscrutable By whom the web of doom is spun, Whose shadows in the deep heart dwell, Whose form is seen not in the sun!
Just then, amidst the highest tier, Breaks forth a voice that starts the ear; "See there—see there, Timotheus, Behold the Cranes of Ibycus!" A sudden darkness wraps the sky; Above the roofless building hover Dusk, swarming wings; and heavily Sweep the slow Cranes, hoarse-murmuring, over!
"Of Ibycus?"—that name so dear Thrills through the hearts of those who hear! Like wave on wave in eager seas, From mouth to mouth the murmur flees— "Of Ibycus, whom we bewail! The murder'd one! What mean those words? Who is the man—knows he the tale? Why link that name with those wild birds?"
Questions on questions louder press— Like lightning flies the inspiring guess— Leaps every heart—"The truth we seize; Your might is here, EUMENIDES! The murderer yields himself confest— Vengeance is near—that voice the token— Ho!-him who yonder spoke, arrest! And him to whom the words were spoken!"
Scarce had the wretch the words let fall, Than fain their sense he would recall In vain; those whitening lips—behold! The secret have already told. Into their Judgment Court sublime The Scene is changed;—their doom is seal'd! Behold the dark unwitness'd Crime, Struck by the lightning that reveal'd!
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THE WORDS OF BELIEF (1797)
Three Words will I name thee—around and about, From the lip to the lip, full of meaning, they flee; But they had not their birth in the being without, And the heart, not the lip, must their oracle be! And all worth in the man shall for ever be o'er When in those Three Words he believes no more.
Man is made FREE!—Man, by birthright, is free, Though the tyrant may deem him but born for his tool. Whatever the shout of the rabble may be— Whatever the ranting misuse of the fool— Still fear not the Slave, when he breaks from his chain, For the Man made a Freeman grows safe in his gain.
And Virtue is more than a shade or a sound, And Man may her voice, in this being, obey; And though ever he slip on the stony ground, Yet, ever again to the godlike way, To the science of Good though the Wise may be blind, Yet the practice is plain to the childlike mind.
And a God there is—over Space, over Time; While the Human Will rocks, like a reed, to and fro, Lives the Will of the Holy—A Purpose Sublime, A Thought woven over creation below; Changing and shifting the All we inherit, But changeless through all One Immutable Spirit!
Hold fast the Three Words of Belief—though about From the lip to the lip, full of meaning, they flee; Yet they take not their birth from the being without— But a voice from within must their oracle be; And never all worth in the Man can be o'er, Till in those Three Words he believes no more.
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THE WORDS OF ERROR (1799)
Three Errors there are, that for ever are found On the lips of the good, on the lips of the best; But empty their meaning and hollow their sound— And slight is the comfort they bring to the breast.
The fruits of existence escape from the clasp Of the seeker who strives but those shadows to grasp— So long as Man dreams of some Age in this life When the Right and the Good will all evil subdue; For the Right and the Good lead us ever to strife, And wherever they lead us, the Fiend will pursue.
And (till from the earth borne, and stifled at length) The earth that he touches still gifts him with strength! So long as Man fancies that Fortune will live, Like a bride with her lover, united with Worth; For her favors, alas! to the mean she will give— And Virtue possesses no title to earth! That Foreigner wanders to regions afar, Where the lands of her birthright immortally are!
So long as Man dreams that, to mortals a gift, The Truth in her fulness of splendor will shine; The veil of the goddess no earth-born may lift, And all we can learn is—to guess and divine I Dost thou seek, in a dogma, to prison her form? The spirit flies forth on the wings of the storm! O, Noble Soul! fly from delusions like these, More heavenly belief be it thine to adore; Where the Ear never hearkens, the Eye never sees, Meet the rivers of Beauty and Truth evermore! Not without thee the streams—there the Dull seek them;—No! Look within thee—behold both the fount and the flow!
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THE LAY OF THE BELL (1799)
"Vivos voco—Mortuos plango—Fulgura frango." 
Fast in its prison-walls of earth, Awaits the mold of baked clay. Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth— THE BELL that shall be born today! Who would honor obtain, With the sweat and the pain, The praise that Man gives to the Master must buy!— But the blessing withal must descend from on high! And well an earnest word beseems The work the earnest hand prepares; Its load more light the labor deems, When sweet discourse the labor shares. So let us ponder—nor in vain— What strength can work when labor wills; For who would not the fool disdain Who ne'er designs what he fulfils? And well it stamps our Human Race, And hence the gift To UNDERSTAND, That Man within the heart should trace Whate'er he fashions with the hand.
From the fir the faggot take, Keep it, heap it hard and dry, That the gathered flame may break Through the furnace, wroth and high. When the copper within Seethes and simmers—the tin Pour quick, that the fluid that feeds the Bell May flow in the right course glib and well. Deep hid within this nether cell, What force with Fire is molding thus In yonder airy tower shall dwell, And witness wide and far of us! It shall, in later days, unfailing, Rouse many an ear to rapt emotion; Its solemn voice with Sorrow wailing, Or choral chiming to Devotion. Whatever Fate to Man may bring, Whatever weal or woe befall, That metal tongue shall backward ring The warning moral drawn from all.
See the silvery bubbles spring! Good! the mass is melting now! Let the salts we duly bring Purge the flood, and speed the flow. From the dross and the scum, Pure, the fusion must come; For perfect and pure we the metal must keep, That its voice may be perfect, and pure, and deep. That voice, with merry music rife, The cherished child shall welcome in, What time the rosy dreams of life In the first slumber's arms begin; As yet in Time's dark womb unwarning, Repose the days, or foul or fair, And watchful o'er that golden morning, The Mother-Love's untiring care! And swift the years like arrows fly— No more with girls content to play, Fast in its prison-walls of earth, Awaits the mold of baked clay. Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth— The BELL that shall be born to-day! Bounds the proud Boy upon his way, Storms through loud life's tumultuous pleasures, With pilgrim staff the wide world measures; And, wearied with the wish to roam, Again seeks, stranger-like, the Father-Home. And, lo, as some sweet vision breaks Out from its native morning skies, With rosy shame on downcast cheeks, The Virgin stands before his eyes. A nameless longing seizes him! From all his wild companions flown; Tears, strange till then, his eyes bedim; He wanders all alone. Blushing, he glides where'er she move; Her greeting can transport him; To every mead to deck his love, The happy wild flowers court him! Sweet Hope—and tender Longing—ye The growth of Life's first Age of Gold, When the heart, swelling, seems to see The gates of heaven unfold! O Love, the beautiful and brief! O prime, Glory, and verdure, of life's summertime!
Browning o'er, the pipes are simmering, Dip this wand of clay within; If like glass the wand be glimmering, Then the casting may begin. Brisk, brisk now, and see If the fusion flow free; If—(happy and welcome indeed were the sign!) If the hard and the ductile united combine. For still where the strong is betrothed to the weak, And the stern in sweet marriage is blent with the meek, Rings the concord harmonious, both tender and strong: So be it with thee, if forever united, The heart to the heart flows in one, love-delighted; Illusion is brief, but Repentance is long. Lovely, thither are they bringing, With her virgin wreath, the Bride! To the love-feast clearly ringing, Tolls the church-bell far and wide! With that sweetest holyday, Must the May of Life depart; With the cestus loosed—away Flies ILLUSION from the heart! Yet love lingers lonely, When Passion is mute, And the blossoms may only Give way to the fruit. The Husband must enter The hostile life; With struggle and strife, To plant or to watch, To snare or to snatch, To pray and importune, Must wager and venture And hunt down his fortune! Then flows in a current the gear and the gain, And the garners are filled with the gold of the grain, Now a yard to the court, now a wing to the centre! Within sits Another, The thrifty Housewife; The mild one, the mother— Her home is her life. In its circle she rules, And the daughters she schools, And she cautions the boys, With a bustling command, And a diligent hand Employed she employs; Gives order to store, And the much makes the more; Locks the chest and the wardrobe, with lavender smelling, And the hum of the spindle goes quick through the dwelling, And she hoards in the presses, well polished and full, The snow of the linen, the shine of the wool; Blends the sweet with the good, and from care and endeavor Rests never! Blithe the Master (where the while From his roof he sees them smile) Eyes the lands, and counts the gain; There, the beams projecting far, And the laden store-house are, And the granaries bowed beneath The blessed golden grain; There, in undulating motion, Wave the corn-fields like an ocean. Proud the boast the proud lips breathe:— "My house is built upon a rock, And sees unmoved the stormy shock Of waves that fret below!" What chain so strong, what girth so great, To bind the giant form of Fate?— Swift are the steps of Woe.
Now the casting may begin; See the breach indented there: Ere we run the fusion in, Halt—and speed the pious prayer! Pull the bung out— See around and about What vapor, what vapor—God help us!—has risen?— Ha! the flame like a torrent leaps forth from its prison! What friend is like the might of fire When man can watch and wield the ire? Whate'er we shape or work, we owe Still to that heaven-descended glow. But dread the heaven-descended glow, When from their chain its wild wings go, When, where it listeth, wide and wild Sweeps the Free Nature's free-born Child! When the Frantic One fleets, While no force can withstand, Through the populous streets Whirling ghastly the brand; For the Element hates What man's labor creates, And the work of his hand! Impartially out from the cloud, Or the curse or the blessing may fall! Benignantly out from the cloud, Come the dews, the revivers of all! Avengingly out from the cloud Come the levin, the bolt, and the ball! Hark—a wail from the steeple!—aloud The bell shrills its voice to the crowd! Look—look—red as blood All on high! It is not the daylight that fills with its flood The sky! What a clamor awaking Roars up through the street! What a hell-vapor breaking Rolls on through the street! And higher and higher Aloft moves the Column of Fire! Through the vistas and rows Like a whirlwind it goes, And the air like the steam from a furnace glows. Beams are crackling—posts are shrinking— Walls are sinking—windows clinking Children crying— Mothers flying— And the beast (the black ruin yet smoldering under) Yells the howl of its pain and its ghastly wonder! Hurry and skurry—away—away, The face of the night is as clear as day! As the links in a chain, Again and again Flies the bucket from hand to hand; High in arches up-rushing The engines are gushing, And the flood, as a beast on the prey that it hounds, With a roar on the breast of the element bounds. To the grain and the fruits, Through the rafters and beams, Through the barns and the garners it crackles and streams! As if they would rend up the earth from its roots, Rush the flames to the sky Giant-high; And at length, Wearied out and despairing, man bows to their strength! With an idle gaze sees their wrath consume, And submits to his doom! Desolate The place, and dread For storms the barren bed! In the blank voids that cheerful casements were, Comes to and fro the melancholy air, And sits despair; And through the ruin, blackening in its shroud, Peers, as it flits, the melancholy cloud. One human glance of grief upon the grave Of all that Fortune gave The loiterer takes—then turns him to depart, And grasps the wanderer's staff and mans his heart: Whatever else the element bereaves One blessing more than all it reft—it leaves The face that he loves!—He counts them o'er, See—not one look is missing from that store!