Friedrich Schiller: The citizen is naught, the soldier all; rude hordes, lawless grown in lengthy war
Friedrich von Schiller
From Wallenstein’s Camp (1798)
Translated by Charles E. Passage
Amid these days we see the old fixed form
Disintegrate, which in its time a hundred
And fifty years ago a welcome peace
Imposed on Europe’s realms, the precious fruit
Acquired by thirty dismal years of war.
Now once again permit the poet’s fancy
To bring before your eyes that sombre age,
While more content you gaze about the present
And toward the hopeful distance of the future.
Into the middle of that war the poet
Now takes you. Sixteen years of devastation,
Of pillage and of misery have passed.
Dark masses of the world are still in ferment
And from afar there shines no hope of peace.
The Empire is a rumpus-field for weapons,
Deserted are the cities, Magdeburg
In ashes, art and industry are prostrate,
The citizen is naught, the soldier all,
Unpunished insolence makes mock of custom,
And rude hordes, lawless grown in lengthy war,
Make couches on the devastated ground,