• Translation

The Knight of Toggenburg (1797) by Friedrich Schiller

An original German illustration for Schiller's poem from the 1800s

Sir knight, I can a sister's love

Happily offer you,

But any other kind of love

Would not be true.

Softly I can appear to you,

And softly you may go,

But weeping eyes with flowery dew

Those I cannot know.

And this he hears as his heart tears

Openhis heart strings bleed!

He holds her dear, besieged with fears

Then rides upon his steed.

He gathers all his gallant men

In noble Switzerland;

Towards the holy grave they wend,

Crosses tightly fastened.

So many deeds were valiantly done

By his heroic arm,

His noble plumes blown through the storm

Made foes retreat from harm.

And the Toggenburger’s name

Scared every Saracen.

Yet, his heart from its lonely grave,

No longer can ascend.

For one long year he’s carried on,

But no more can he strive,

Thus losing hope he can’t hang on

To home he must now drive.

A ship he see’s on Jopa’s strand

Its sails are fiercely swelling,

It takes him back to his dear land

Where his love is dwelling.

At his beloved’s castle gate

He finds himself once more,

But ah! will this wonderous fate

Open her castle door?

“The one you seek now wears the veil,

Her vows are made to heaven;

The celebrations we did hail

Just yesterday at even.”

From father’s castle he departs

And this time forever,

No more to touch a sword or darts,

His beaver's noble feather.

Upon the solitary roads

The knight travels unseen,

As he sports his repentant robes

That cast a mournful sheen.

He sets out to erect his shed

Close to those monasteries

Where over each hill is spread

Those lovely linden trees.

From when the morning rays first race

Until at night they’ve flown,

Hope gently paints his youthful face

As he sits all alone.

He gazed upon the convent there,

There he looked for hours;

Through the window he did stare

In hope of starry showers,

In hope those twinkling eyes appear,

In hope of that fair face,

Ascending from that valley dear,

That look of angel-grace.

He happily lies himself down

And finally takes his rest,

For joyfully again tomorrow

Again to make his test.

And so he sits for many a day

Sitting for many years,

Until he sees that morning gay

When her sweet face appears.

In hope those twinkling eyes appear,

In hope of that fair face,

Ascending from that valley dear,

That look of angel-grace.

And so he lies, a corpse all pale,

Still many mornings there,

Towards that window now so frail,

With cold and silent stare.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

IllusTration by Arthur von Ramberg for the Prachtausgabe 1859