Friday, August 20, 2010

''Song of the Fatherland''


Ernst Moritz Arndt

God, who gave iron, purposed ne'er
      That man should be a slave;
Therefore the sabre, sword, and spear
      In his right hand He gave.
Therefore He gave him fiery mood,
      Fierce speech, and free-born breath,
That he might fearlessly the feud
      Maintain through blood and death.

Therefore will we what God did say,
      With honest truth, maintain--
And ne'er a fellow-creature slay,
      A tyrant's pay to gain!
But he shall perish by stroke of brand
      Who fighteth for sin and shame,
And not inherit the German land
      With men of the German name.

O Germany! bright Fatherland!
      O German love so true!
Thou sacred land--thou beauteous land--
      We swear to thee anew!
Outlawed, each knave and coward shall
      The crow and raven feed;
But we will to the battle all--
      Revenge shall be our meed.

Flash forth, flash forth, whatever can,
      To bright and flaming life!
Now, all ye Germans, man for man,
      Forth to the holy strife!
Your hands lift upward to the sky--
      Your hearts shall upward soar--
And man for man let each one cry,
      Our slavery is o'er!

Let sound, let sound, whatever can--
      Trumpet and fife and drum!
This day our sabres, man for man,
      To stain with blood, we come;
With hangman's and with coward's blood,
      O glorious day of ire
That to all Germans soundeth good!--
      Day of our great desire!

Let wave, let wave, whatever can--
      Standard and banner wave!
Here will we purpose, man for man,
      To grace a hero's grave.
Advance, ye brave ranks, hardily--
      Your banners wave on high;
We'll gain us freedom's victory,
      Or freedom's death we'll die!


-trans. H.W. Dulcken
-German title: Vaterlandslied.

(Image shows the Arminius sculpture atop the Hermannsdenkmal near Detmold; photographed by the author during his latest pilgrimage to Germany, in August, 2009.)

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