TO SCHILLER'S "SONG OF THE BELL."
[This fine piece, written originally
in 1805, on Schiller's
death, was altered and recast by Goethe in 1815, on the occasion
of the performance on the stage of the Song of the Bell. Hence
the allusion in the last verse.]
To this city joy reveal it!
Peace as its first signal peal it!
(Song of the Bell--concluding lines.)
AND so it proved! The nation felt,
That peaceful signal, and, with blessings
A new-born joy appear'd; in gladsome song
To hail the youthful princely pair
While in a living, ever-swelling throng
Mingled the crowds from ev'ry region
And on the stage, in festal pomp array'd
The HOMAGE OF THE ARTS * we saw displayed.
(* The title of a lyric piece composed
by Schiller in honour of
the marriage of the hereditary Prince of Weimar to the Princess
Maria of Russia, and performed in 1804.)
When, lo! a fearful midnight sound
That with a dull and mournful echo
And can it be that of our friend so dear
It tells, to whom each wish so fondly
Shall death overcome a life that all revere?
How such a loss to all confusion
How such a parting we must ever rue!
The world is weeping,--shall not we weep too?
He was our own! How social, yet how
Seem'd in the light of day his noble
How was his nature, pleasing yet sedate,
Now for glad converse joyously incline,
Then swiftly changing, spirit-fraught, elate,
Life's plan with deep-felt meaning
Fruitful alike in counsel and in deed!
This have we proved, this tasted, in our need.
He was our own! O may that thought
Overcome the voice of wailing and
He might have sought the Lasting, safe at rest
In harbour, when the tempest ceased
Meanwhile his mighty spirit onward press'd
Where goodness, beauty, truth, for
And in his rear, in shadowy outline, lay
The vulgar, which we all, alas, obey!
Now doth he deck the garden-turret
Where the stars' language first illuded
As secretly yet clearly through the air
On the eterne, the living sense it
And to his own, and our great profit, there
Exchangeth he the seasons as they
Thus nobly doth he vanquish, with renown,
The twilight and the night that weigh us down.
Brighter now glow'd his cheek, and
still more bright.
With that unchanging, ever-youthful
That courage which overcomes, in hard-fought fight,
Sooner or later, ev'ry earthly foe--
That faith which, soaring to the realms of light,
Now boldly Presseth on, now bendeth
So that the good may work, wax, thrive amain,
So that the day the noble may attain.
Yet, though so skill'd, of such transcendent
This boarded scaffold doth he not
The fate that on its axis turns the earth
From day to night, here shows he
to our eyes,
Raising, through many a work of glorious birth,
Art and the artist's fame up tow'rd
He fills with blossoms of the noblest strife,
With life itself, this effigy of life.
His giant-step, as ye full surely
Measured the circle of the will and
Each country's changing thoughts and morals too,
The darksome book with clearness
could he read;
Yet how he, breathless 'midst his friends so true,
Despaired in sorrow, scarce from
pain was freed,--
All this have we, in sadly happy years,
For he was ours, bewailed with feeling tears.
When from the agonizing weight of
He raised his eyes upon the world
We show'd him how his thoughts might find relief
From the uncertain present's heavy
Gave his fresh-kindled mind a respite brief,
With kindly skill beguiling ev'ry
And e'en at eve, when setting was his sun,
From his wan cheeks a gentle smile we won.
Full early had he read the stern
Sorrow and death to him, alas, were
Ofttimes recovering, now departed he,--
Dread tidings, that our hearts had
fear'd to own!
Yet his transfigured being now can see
Itself, e'en here on earth, transfigured
What his own age reproved, and deem'd a crime,
Hath been ennobled now by death and time.
And many a soul that with him strove
And his great merit grudged to recognise,
Now feels the impress of his wondrous might,
And in his magic fetters gladly lies;
E'en to the highest bath he winged his flight,
In close communion link'd with all
Extol him then! What mortals while they live
But half receive, posterity shall give.
Thus is he left us, who so long ago,--
Ten years, alas, already!--turn'd
We all, to our great joy, his precepts know,
Oh may the world confess their priceless
In swelling tide tow'rd every region flow
The thoughts that were his own peculiar
He gleams like some departing meteor bright,
Combining, with his own, eternal light.