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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Patriot’s Lament
By Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
 
Translation of Cornelius Conway Felton

“WHAT forgest, smith?”—“We’re forging chains; ay, chains!”—
  “Alas! to chains yourselves degraded are!”—
  “What plowest, farmer?”—“Fields their fruit must bear.”—
“Yes, seed for foes: the burr for thee remains!”
 
“What aim’st at, sportsman?”—“Yonder stag, so fat.”—        5
  “To hunt you down, like stag and roe, they’ll try.”—
  “What snarest, fisher?”—“Yonder fish so shy.”—
“Who’s there to save you from your fatal net?”
 
“What art thou rocking, sleepless mother?”—“Boys.”—
  “Yes: let them grow, and wound their country’s fame,        10
    Slaves to her foes, with parricidal arm!”—
  “What art thou writing, poet?”—“Words of flame:
    I mark my own, record my country’s harm,
Whom thought of freedom never more employs.”
 
  I blame them not, who with the foreign steel        15
    Tear out our vitals, pierce our inmost heart;
    For they are foes created for our smart,
  And when they slay us, why they do it, feel.
 
  But in these paths, ye seek what recompense?
    For you what brilliant toys of fame are here,        20
    Ye mongrel foes, who lift the sword and spear
  Against your country, not for her defense?
 
  Ye Franks, Bavarians, and ye Swabians, say—
    Ye aliens, sold to bear the slavish name—
  What wages for your servitude they pay.        25
    Your eagle may perchance redeem your fame;
  More sure his robber train, ye birds of prey,
    To coming ages shall prolong your shame!
 
 
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