An Evening - Frederick Engels

Submitted by pogo on May 3, 2015



An Evening by Frederick Engels



Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

An Evening


Written: in July 1840

First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 125, August 1840

Signed: Friedrich Oswald


To-morrow comes!

Shelley

1

I sit in the garden. ‘Neath the ocean’s rim

The old day’s sun has slowly slipped from sight,

And hidden shafts that draw their strength from him

Now fill the heavens with scintillating light.

But with day’s brilliance fading from the sky,

The flowers stand and grieve in silent sadness;

Meanwhile the birds, safe in the tree-tops high,

Carol their love-songs full of joy and gladness.

Ships that have traced the oceans with their wake

Now lie at anchor in the peaceful bay.

From end to end the timbered bridges shake

As the tired people trudge their homeward way.

The cool wine bubbles in the crystal glass.

I leaf through Caldetön’s great comedies,

Drinking my fill to very drunkenness

On heady wine and headier tragedies.

2

The radiance in the West is almost gone.

Patience! A new day’s coming — Freedom’s day!

The sun shall mount his ever-shining throne

And Night’s black cares be banished far away.

New flowers shall grow, but not in nursery beds

We raked ourselves and sowed with chosen seeds:

All earth shall be their garden full of light;

’ Written in English in the original. (Shelley, Queen Mab.)

All plants shall flourish in far alien lands.

The Palm of Peace shall grace the Northern strands,

The Rose of Love shall crown the frozen wight,

The sturdy Oak shall seek the Southern shore

To make the club that strikes the despot down,

And he who brings his nation peace once more

Shall wear upon his head the oak-leaf crown.

The Aloe, flourishing all over Earth,

Is like the People’s spirit everywhere,

As prickly, coarse, and lacking grace as they are,

Till, with a crash, there suddenly bursts forth

Through every obstacle a blossom bright —

The Freedom flame, that glowed concealed from sight;

Its scent is far more like to reach the Lord

Than all the incense of the pious fraud.

Only the Cypress-trees are left alone,

Abandoned in the grove, their meaning gone.

3

The birds on their green branches greet the dawn

With paeans of tumultuous song, and know

That when the drifting cloudlets have withdrawn

Their steamy summits to the vales below,

Then shall the sun begin to mount his throne —

These birds are minstrel singers, every one;

Their words fly free as the free winds that blow;

And winds and words as one united go.

These songsters do not haunt the castle walls

(Those stately homes have long since tumbled down),

But, in proud oaks unbent by howling squalls,

Boldly they look towards the rising sun,

Though they be dazzled when his brilliance falls

To ring the earth with radiant light around.

1, too, am one of Freedom’s minstrel band.

’twas to the boughs of Börne’s great oak-tree

I soared, when in the vales the despot’s hand

Tightened the strangling chains round Germany.

Yes, I am of those plucky birds that make

Their course through Freedom’s bright aethereal sea.

Though I be just a sparrow in their wake,

Rather that little sparrow would I be

Than the caged nightingale that can’t take wing

And only to a prince’s car may sing.

4

No longer does the cargo vessel press

Across the ocean to enrich the few

Or swell the greedy merchant’s revenue:

It bears the seeds of human happiness.

It is a noble stallion prancing high,

Whose rider slays all hypocrites and crawlers,

It is the fearless scourge of human dolours,

It is a thought that dreams of Liberty.

The flag bears not the royal coat of arms

For the ship’s frightened crew to tremble under;

It bears the cloud on which, after the thunder,

After the lightning bolts of raging storms,

The reconciling Freedom rainbow forms.

5

The bridge of Love shall throw its spans unseen

Across from heart to heart; between the piers

Runs Passion’s wild and ever-rushing stream,

The swiftly flowing torrent of the years.

The bridge is diamond hard: it will not sag.

Across goes Freedom’s bravely shining flag.

Across goes Man. Where'er his feet may lead him,

Wherever he may choose to cast his eye,

He sees a friendly roof against the sky

And knows that food and drink are there to meet him;

A very home from home awaits to greet him,

Wherever he may make his bed and lie.

A bridge of purer faith shall pierce the clouds.

Man shall ascend it, climbing without fear

Its heavenward steps to gaze on, humbly proud,

The Eternal Archetype of All the Spirits.

Out of his bosom issues forth Mankind,

And to his bosom Men return again,

All conscious links in the great spirit-chain

By which Eternal Matter is confined.

6

New wine shall fill your glasses to the brim,

Pure Freedom wine’s intoxicating brew:

Not the unwary senses to bedim,

But jaded senses to exchange for new,

That with revived perception you may hear

The spheres in heaven singing high and low;

That the blood coursing through your veins may clear,

Transformed into pure Aether, which flows through

The Infinities; that your eye-beams may spear

Primordial Space, like warriors bold that go

To storm the starry summits without fear.

Between, like jack-o'-Lanterns in the sky,

Images of past woe are gliding by.

7

And there shall rise another Calderön,

Pearl-fisher in the tide of poetry,

With images like flames ascending from

The layered wood of the sweet Cedar-tree.

With golden lyre, he shall exalt in song

The bloody stamping out of Tyranny.

Mankind shall hear proud Victory’s refrain,

And Peace shall flourish in the world again.

He too shall sing how Mankind made a stand

Against the cruel hordes of Tyranny

Upon Mantible Bridge* [88]; how that brave band

Fought on through levelled spears to victory

And so set foot on Freedom’s hallowed land;

How Doctor of His Honour** came to be

Man, like the Constant Prince,*** condemned to languish

In chains until deliverance from anguish;

How Freedom came, The Daughter of the Air,****

Descending earthwards from aethereal space

To sing her magic songs, so wondrous fair;

How Life became a Dream***** of joy and grace,

And how the Cup of Happiness shone clear

Of furious ferment showing not a trace;

And how the sun shall put the clouds to flight,

Bringing sweet April-and-May-Mornings****** light.

8

But say, when is the new sun going to rise?

When will the bad old times be cracked asunder?

We saw the old sun sinking in the skies —

How long must night’s oppression keep us under?

The melancholy moon peers through the cloud,

And white mists, bivouacked in the vales below,

Hide all that lives on earth beneath their shroud.

Like blind men tapping through the dark we go.

Patience! For look, already heavenward bound,

The sun would chase the gloomy clouds away.

The very mists that crawl along the ground

Are Spirits’ dawn-breeze-wakened roundelay.

The morning star dances his upward way.

The mists are pierced by shafts of blood-red fire.

Do not the flowers unfold to greet the day?

Do you not hear the joyful feathered choir?

Now half the heavens are filled with radiance bright.

The snow-capped mountains blaze with ruby light.

The golden clouds rear up their noble heads

Like the sun’s fiery chariot-drawing steeds.

Look yonder, where the densest light rays run

In joyous throng to greet the new-born sun!

Notes by Engels:

* La puente de Mantible.

** El midico de su honra..

*** El principe constante.

**** La hija del aire.

***** La vida es sueño.

****** Mañano do Abril y Mayo.