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  • Translation

The Commencement of a New Century by Friedrich Schiller


Dear friend! Alas, to where has peace now flown? When will true Freedom find a resting place? The century has vanished with the storm, A new one reveals its murderous face. The bonds of ancient lands withstand no more, Fleeting are hallowed custom and sign. The seas are no impediment to war, Nor are the Nile-god or the ancient Rhine. Two awesome nations choose to go to battle Over possession of a continent; Jettisoned are universal freedoms, Sundered by lightning bolts and trident.

Vast sums in tribute are from all requited, And just like Brennus in more savage tales, The Frank places his weighty saber on The universal justice scales. Like a creeping octopustentacles awhirl The Briton unleashes his swarm of ships Across a wide expanse of roaring seas, Entangling the world in its grips. He rages on his course unimpeded Amid a vast and starless southern pole; Each isle and rich exotic land surveyed: A trace of paradise still none behold. There is no sacred kingdom’s map where we Will find an untarnished blessed demesne, Where lush gardens spring eternally green And the fountain of youth flows endlessly. Before your gaze appears an endless world Where sails have never rustled in the wind, And yet, upon the countless raging fleets, No room is found for even ten fine men.

Refuge is only found within our hearts When the noble is chased away by throngs; Freedom only reveals itself in dreams And Beauty blossoms only in our songs.


Translation © David B. Gosselin

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