Home > Uncategorized > Joseph Victor von Scheffel: The Muses heal what Mars has wrought

Joseph Victor von Scheffel: The Muses heal what Mars has wrought

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

German writers on peace and war

Joseph Victor von Scheffel: The wood of peace

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Joseph Victor von Scheffel
From The Trumpeter
Translated by Jessie Beck and Louise Lorimer

“Bitter war has on our country
Many bitter wounds inflicted,
And within our German borders
Rudeness has all too long flourished.
It is good, then, to repose us
In the Muses’ peaceful grottoes.
These revive, refresh, ennoble,
While they tame our savage spirits.
What upon the walls is painted
Tells me of no common effort.
What my ears have been regaled with
Causes me to think most highly
Of the men who have performed it.
Memories rose up before me
Of my young days, long forgotten,
When, in Rome, I loved to listen
To Cavalieri’s ‘Daphne,’
And, in soft, Arcadian longings
To expand my melting spirit.
Lay your offerings, good my masters,
Ever on Dame Music’s altar.
Let your notes ring fair together,
Hold aloof from brawls politic.
Would that such harmonious spirit
Over all the land would settle!”

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Many a one among us younger,
Later-born of human children,
Sees in dreams some peaceful islet
Where full gladly he would nestle,
And in calm would lave his spirit,
Calm of forests, peace of Sabbaths.
Many a one sets out with longing,
But if ever, as he wanders,
He draws near that vision country,
Straight it vanishes before him,
As recedes the wondrous mirrored
Image of the Fay Morgana.

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