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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 Power of Song
By Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)
 
Translation of Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton

A RAIN-FLOOD from the mountain riven,
  It leaps in thunder forth to-day;
Before its rush the crags are driven,
  The oaks uprooted whirled away!
Awed—yet in awe all wildly gladdening—        5
  The startled wanderer halts below;
He hears the rock-born waters maddening,
  Nor wits the source from whence they go:
So, from their high, mysterious founts, along,
Stream on the silenced world the waves of song!        10
 
Knit with the threads of life forever,
  By those dread powers that weave the woof,—
Whose art the singer’s spell can sever?
  Whose breast has mail to music proof?
Lo, to the bard a wand of wonder        15
  The herald of the gods has given;
He sinks the soul the death-realm under,
  Or lifts it breathless up to heaven,—
Half sport, half earnest, rocking its devotion
Upon the tremulous ladder of emotion.        20
 
As when in hours the least unclouded,
  Portentous, strides upon the scene
Some fate before from wisdom shrouded,
  And awes the startled souls of men,—
Before that stranger from another,        25
  Behold how this world’s great ones bow;
Mean joys their idle clamor smother,
  The mask is vanished from the brow:
And from truth’s sudden, solemn flag unfurled
Fly all the craven falsehoods of the world!        30
 
So Song—like Fate itself—is given
  To scare the idler thoughts away,
To lift the earthly up to heaven,
  To wake the spirit from the clay!
One with the gods the bard: before him        35
  All things unclean and earthly fly;
Hushed are all meaner powers, and o’er him
  The dark fate swoops unharming by:
And while the soother’s magic measures flow,
Smoothed every wrinkle on the brows of woe!        40
 
Even as a child, that after pining
  For the sweet absent mother, hears
Her voice, and round her neck entwining
  Young arms, vents all its soul in tears:
So by harsh custom far estranged,        45
  Along the glad and guileless track,
To childhood’s happy home unchanged
  The swift song wafts the wanderer back,—
Snatched from the cold and formal world, and prest
By the great mother to her glowing breast!        50
 
 
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