On the Death of Immermann - Frederick Engels

Submitted by pogo on May 3, 2015

On the Death of Immermann by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

On the Death of Immermann

Written: in September 1840

First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 243, October 10, 1840

Signed: Friedrich Oswald

In the camp’s finest tent we'd sat all night

And mingled Spanish wine with German song.

The fields were turning grey in dawn’s first light;

Our eyes were aching — we'd stayed up so long.

The sun’s rays peeped into our tent and found

Our sherry bottles drained, in disarray.

The hour was late. Time we were homeward bound.

Come, let us mount the horses and away!

We flew. After carousing all night long,

What bliss to feel the freshness of the morrow.

Still in our ears the sound of strings and song;

Still far away the long day’s care and worry.

The shades of night had vanished. From the sky

Light fell on river, trees, fields bathed in dew.

We all looked up to trace with joyful eye

The sun’s bright progress through the cloudless blue.

We're home. Our steeds coursed well. Now I stand here

Upon the threshold of work’s tribulations.

Here is the paper. Let me draw fresh cheer

By drinking from the well-spring of the nations.

Russia, Great Britain, Turkish catastrophes!

And now for Germany — does all go well?

Ah, here.... What? Dead? Can I believe my eyes?

You, Immermann, must also bid farewell?

Defiant heart, so full of noble scorn,

Must you depart, then, for eternity,

Now that we see the rose despite the thorn

And bow to you in all humility?

Now that, like Schiller, proudly you beheld

Your people hang on every word from you?

Now that the love within your bosom held

Had blossomed forth with shining rays anew?

Aloof in German poetry’s sacred grove,

You shunned your fellow bards’ vociferous throng,

And by the Rhine in solitude you wove

The images of many a gentle song.

The mob’s harsh clamour never came to hurt you

In the flower garden where you toiled away.

So few the stories they could spread about you;

Living, you were a legend in your day.

Because the maltitude, that never can

Conceive what power inspires the poet’s lays,

Why should they heed the silent, serious man

Who wanders far from their well-trodden ways?

But you, 0 Immermann, that now have died,

Wanted to wrestle with yourself, alone,

And all the bitter jarring strife inside

That you grew up with, master on your own.

So, meditating through the long dark night

That held in thrall our German poetry,

In solitude you fought the inner fight

And battled through to see the dawning day.

When far above your dwelling’s mossy stones

July’s wild thunder rolled away at last,

You sent into the world your Epigones,

That requiem for a generation past.

And yet you saw the rising generation,

Those in whose hearts the youthful fires blaze,

Speak loudly to defend your reputation,

Your right to wear the bard’s full crown of bays.

In your abode you saw us drawing nigh,

You saw us silent at your feet, as we

Looked up into your rapt and thoughtful eye

And listened to your rolling poetry.

Now that the people, who forgot your name,

Have welcomed you with shouts of joy, bestowing

On you your rightful laurels of acclaim,

0 Immermann, is this a time for going?

Farewell! Here in this land of Germany

Poets to match your skill are very few.

I settled down to work, and swore to be

As German, and as strong and firm as you.