Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Extracts from ‘The Song of the Bell’
By Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)
Translation of William Henry Furness

  SEE the mold of clay, well heated,
    In the earth walled firmly, stand.
  Be the bell to-day created!
    Come, my comrades, be at hand!
      From the glowing brow        5
      Sweat must freely flow,
  So the work the master showeth;
  Yet the blessing Heaven bestoweth.
The work we earnestly are doing
  Befitteth well an earnest word;        10
Then toil goes on, more briskly flowing,
  When good discourse is also heard.
So let us then with care now ponder
  What through weak strength originates:
To him no reverence can we render,        15
  Who never heeds what he creates.
’Tis this indeed that man most graceth,
  For this ’tis his to understand,—
That in his inner heart he traceth
  What he produces with his hand….        20
  See how brown the pipes are getting!
    This little rod I dip it in;
  If it show a glazèd coating,
    Then the casting may begin.
      Now my lads, enough!        25
      Prove me now the stuff,
  The brittle with the tough combining,
  See if they be rightly joining.
For when the strong and mild are pairing,
The manly with the tender sharing,        30
Then is the concord good and strong.
  See ye, who join in endless union,
  If heart with heart be in communion!
For fancy’s brief, repentance long….
  Be the casting now beginning;        35
    Finely jaggèd is the grain.
  But before we set it running,
    Let us breathe a pious strain.
      Let the metal go!
      God protect us now!        40
  Through the bending handle hollow
  Smoking shoots the fire-brown billow.
Benignant is the might of flame,
When man keeps watch and makes it tame;
In what he fashions, what he makes,        45
Help from this heaven’s force he takes:
But fearful is this heaven’s force
When all unfettered in its course;
It steps forth on its own fierce way,
Thy daughter, Nature, wild and free.        50
Woe! when once emancipated,
  With naught her power to withstand,
Through the streets thick populated,
  Waves she high her monstrous brand!
By the elements is hated        55
  What is formed by mortal hand,…
          From the tower,
            Heavy and slow,
          Tolls the funeral
            Note of woe,        60
Sad and solemn, with its knell attending
Some new wanderer on the last way wending.
  Ah! the wife it is, the dear one,
  Ah! it is the faithful mother,
  Whom the angel dark is tearing        65
  From the husband’s arms endearing,
  From the group of children, far,
  Whom she, blooming, to him bare,
  Whom she on her faithful breast
  Saw with joy maternal rest;        70
  Ah! the household ties so tender
    Broken are for evermore,
  For the shadow-land now holds her,
    Who the household rulèd o’er!
  For her faithful guidance ceases;        75
    No more keepeth watch her care;
  In the void and orphaned places
    Rules the stranger, loveless there….
Woe! if, heaped up, the fire-tinder
  Should the still heart of cities fill,        80
Their fetters rending all asunder,
  The people work then their own will!
Then at the bell-ropes tuggeth riot;
  The bell gives forth a wailing sound,—
Sacred to peace alone and quiet,        85
  For blood it rings the signal round.
“Equality and Freedom” howling,
  Rushes to arms the citizen,
And bloody-minded bands are prowling,
  And streets and halls are filled with men;        90
Then women, to hyenas changing,
  On bloody horrors feast and laugh,
And with the thirst of panthers ranging,
  The blood of hearts yet quivering quaff.
Naught sacred is there more, for breaking        95
  Are all the bands of pious awe;
The good man’s place the bad are taking,
  And vice acknowledges no law.
’Tis dangerous to rouse the lion,
  Deadly to cross the tiger’s path,        100
But the most terrible of terrors
  Is man himself in his wild wrath.
Alas! when to the ever blinded
  The heavenly torch of light is lent!
It guides him not,—it can but kindle        105
  Whole States in flames and ruin blent.

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