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Happy 248th Birthday
Friedrich Schiller!

By the LaRouche Youth Movement

November 2007


A Centennial Across Two Continents by Dean Andromidas

Excerpts from Wallenstein by William F. Wertz

Related Pages

In preparation for a November 10 Schillerfest, members of the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) set up a literature table at Frankfurt University, and took on MySpace, video games, etc. head on. The polemical pun we used on “studiKZ", which is the well-attended German equivalent of FaceBook, called StudiVZ, grabbed attention, because "KZ" is the German abbreviation for "concentration camp". Although many tried to defend it as a platform “for making friends”, most reacted reasonably when confronted with more jokes, with the fascist operation behind Facebook, and with a briefing on the physical economic collapse all around them. Hitting the students with the reality outside of cyberspace, combined with the humanist program we uniquely represent, proved to be very effective. One organizer communicated successfully the combined the MySpace versus cultural renaissance flank by tackling people with the question of mental slavery. Other organizers used the statement of American Patriot and Novelist James Fenimore Cooper on the importance of the work of Friedrich Schiller, which was on the invitation to the Schiller event, to great effect.

The next day the LYM dressed up two organizers: one as Schiller and one as Lafayette. With this outfit and reinforced by more LYM organizers, we took the main cafeteria and the biggest lecture halls by storm! Classics like the "Nazi Genocide" canon, combined with the "Ode To Joy" (conducted by Schiller himself!) created thunderous applause, with people grabbing for the Schiller invitation. It was truly uplifting!  Afterwards, a group toured the neighborhood where the fest was to be held, visiting the shops with leaflets. On Schiller's birthday itself, we dressed up again and sang at the bigger weekly market, getting tons of happy faces and leaflets out.

Schiller Birthday Celebration

On Saturday, November 10, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Founder and Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Schiller Institute Vice Chairwoman, organizers from Wiesbaden, Berlin and Essen, and friends of Schiller Institute/BüSo celebrated the 248th birthday of historian, playwright, Poet of Freedom and genius Friedrich Schiller.

The Fest was held in a nicely decorated big room and was moderated by Helga Zepp-LaRouche. She opened the celebration by referencing the Schiller Fests held in Germany and the U.S., citing the speech that William Cullen Bryant gave in N.Y. in 1859. She made clear to the audience that it is very important to keep Schiller's ideas alive.  The celebration included a prelude and interludes by Werner and Caroline Hartmann performing Dvorak's Sonata for piano and violin. Werner said that Dvorak actually went to the U.S. and incorporated native American music in his compositions.

The Fest started with 3 LYM presenting the 4th, 8th and 10th letter of Schiller's Aesthetical Letters. They counterposed the current youth culture and the lack of identity, to Schiller's idea of educating one's emotions and Empfindunsvermoegen in order to build real nations with real citizens. This led into Kasia and Kai- Uwe presenting the Rudenz and Bertha scene from Willhelm Tell. At this point the audience was pretty moved. Lotta sang two Lieder ("Sennenlied") and Hans Peter recited Tell's famous monologue. Daniel went through the laws of Solon and Lycurgus, contrasting this to the political circus in Berlin. The poem Hope was recited and Portia sang two different Schubert versions of the same poem. Amelia recited Longing and The Veiled Statue at Sais. Helga recited Longing in German. Ulla went through the introduction of The Decline of the Netherlands. The "nemesis group" ended the formal proceedings by reciting the Cranes of Ibykus and the Ring of Polycrates. The chorus sang the Ode to Joy, Oh Freedom, My Lord What a Morning and the German anthem.  All in all, the event was a beautiful demonstration of the power of ideas and the power of beauty in this time of crisis.


A Centennial Across Two Continents

by Dean Andromidas

November 2007

Excerpts from Wallenstein by William F. Wertz

Joan of Arc statue
Friedrich Schiller, Detroit, Michigan

In earlier times, wherever there were Germans, especially in the United States, there was an outpouring of love and admiration for Germany's Poet of Freedom, Friedrich Schiller, on the anniversary of his date of birth. Love and true freedom are universal sentiments, and Schiller's works draws universal admiration wherever mankind seeks after truth and the love of humanity.

This short report will draw on two centennial celebrations of Schiller's birth held in 1859, one in New York and one in Munich. The two events mark a very important link between Schiller's concept of republican freedom and the first modern republican state. This is not a deep study, but based on no more than six New York Times articles reporting on the event, and a little follow-up research. Although somewhat anecdotal, nonetheless the result reveals that the love of Schiller across two continents parallels that of the republican movement in both the United States and Germany. Especially if you consider that the documentation is from the New York Times. Here we see the citizens of the United States express their admiration for the German poet, and the German lovers of Schiller express their admiration for the United States.

The year 1859 is a very special year for both countries where the centennial for Schiller served as a powerful metaphor, for the struggle for republicanism on both sides of the Atlantic was at hand.

The United States of 1859 was the high water mark of the debate on the question of slavery, which would, within months, tear the nation into two. In Germany, despite the failure of the 1848 revolution, the struggle for the unity of the nation served as a cause for those who fought for a German republic in the image of the United States.

Schiller served as a unifying link between the fighters for the preservation of the union of the United States, and the elimination of slavery and the republican movement of Germany.

The New York City of 1859 was home to a large population of German Americans, many of whom arrived long before the American Revolution, and many who arrived after the collapse of the German Revolution of 1848. So large, influential, and politically active were the German citizens of the city, that the centennial celebrations lasted no less then four days. The ceremonies drew not only the German American community, but also Americans of all origins who loved Schiller, as the German Poet of Freedom.

The opening of the New York city centennial was a major event of the city, and held in the grand hall of the famous Cooper Institute, also known as Cooper Union, which still stands today. Cooper Union was modeled on the Ecole Polytechnic, and was a preeminent technical and scientific institute of the day. Its founder, David Cooper, was an outspoken opponent of slavery and an important political supporter of Lincoln in the 1860 Presidential campaign. Describing the "beautifully decorated" speakers platform, the New York Times wrote "In the center was a full length statuesque painting of Schiller, framed in a border of evergreens and immortalles, most tastefully interwoven. On each side of this picture the whole formed semi-circles...were busts of German and Italian poets standing on high front on the edge of the platform were the bust of Homer and Dante." In the center was "large circular painting representing the Genius of Liberty..."

After the opening address by the head of the Schiller Society, Dr. William Loewe, letters of greeting were read from the President of the United States, the governor of New York and venerable American author and patriot, Washington Irving, who, because of ill health, for he would die that same year, could not attend.

The Times devotes much of its reporting to the speech of William Cullen Bryant, literary figure, poet and editor of the New York Evening Post. Bryant, who toured Europe as a young man, wrote two poems related to Schiller, one entitled The Death Of Schiller, second, William Tell, a Sonnet. The Times published his entire presentation. A few excerpts are of interest.

William Cullen Bryant's Address

After introductory remarks on the love and veneration Schiller enjoys in Germany, Bryant declared: "We may therefore well say to the countrymen of Schiller: 'Schiller is yours, but he is ours also. It was your country may have given him birth, but the people of all nations have made him their countryman by adoption...' We of this country, too must honor Schiller as the Poet of Freedom. He was one of those who, if he could worship aught visible to the human eye shaped by the human fancy, he would rear an altar to liberty, and bring to it at the beginning and close of every day his offering of praise. Schiller began to write when our country was warring with Great Britain for its independence and his genius attained the maturity of manhood just as we had made peace with our powerful adversary and stood upon the earth a full-grown nation. It was then that the poet was composing his noble drama of Don Carlos, in which the Marquis of Posa is introduced as laying down to the tyrant Philip of Spain, the great law of Freedom. In the drama of the Robbers, written in Schiller's youth, we are sensible of a fiery vehement destructive impatience with society, on account of the abuses which it permits; and enthusiasm of reform, almost without plan or object; but in his works composed afterwards we find the true philosophy of reform calmly and clearly stated, The Marquis of Posa in an interview with Philip tells him, at the peril of his life, truths which he never heard before, exhorts him to lay the foundations of his power in the happiness and affections of his people, by observing the democratic precept that no tie should fetter the citizen save the respect for the rights of his brethren, as perfect and as sacred as his own, and prophesies the approaching advent of freedom, which unfortunately we are looking for still...that universal Spring which could yet make young the nations of the earth.

King Philip and Elizabeth
King Philip and Don Carlos
Don Carlos and the Queen
Click each image to view enlargement.

"Yet Schiller was no made innovator. He saw that society required to be pruned, but did not desire that it should be uprooted...he would have it reformed, but not laid waste. What was ancient in its usages and ordinances, and therefore endeared to many, he would where it was possible improve and adapt to the present wants of mankind..."

Bryant then illustrated this point by citing lines from Wallenstein. He then spoke of Schiller's "last great dramatic work" William Tell, writing, "He took a silent page from history, and, animating the personages of whom it speaks with the fiery life of his own spirit, and endowing them with his own superhuman eloquence, he formed it into a living protest against foreign domination, which yet rings throughout the world. Wherever there are generous hearts, wherever there are men who hold in reverence the rights of their fellow-men, wherever the love of country and the love of mankind coexist, Schiller's drama of William Tell, stirs the blood like the sound of the trumpet..."

Bryant wrote that it was not for him to analyze the literary merits of Schiller's great drama but concluded by stating that as a man of letters Schiller was "entitled to the veneration of Mankind" for "he was an earnest seeker after truth .. a man whose moral nature revolted at every form of deceit...that on the ascertainment and diffusion of truth the welfare of mankind largely depends. The office of him who labored in the field of letters he thought was to make mankind better and happier, by illustrating and enforcing the relations and duties of justice, beneficence, and brotherhood, by which men are bound to each other, and he never forgot this in anything he wrote. Immortal honor to him whose vast powers where employed to so worthy a purpose and may the next hundredth anniversary of his birth be celebrated with even warmer enthusiasm than this."

The Times wrote, "Bryant retired amid enthusiastic cheers..."

Another speaker was Judge C.P. Daily who began, "The question of the grave digger in Hamlet, 'Who builds stronger that the mason or the carpenter?' might be answered with perfect propriety and thought, the Poet..." For Schiller, the Poet, his "Chief merit was, that he touched the hearts and carried with him the earnest sympathies of all the people. He, only, is a great poet to whom the chorus of all humanity respond, and who touches the emotions of every breast... Schiller is readily comprehended, because he is free from mysticism, and, therefore more thoroughly reaches the heart. He is full, through of fidelity and manly earnestness....He was ever laboring to impart to others the knowledge of the Good, the Beautiful, the True. When the period approached in which he was to withdraw from the earth, in the language of our great national poet, who has come here today to pay his homage to his great predecessor — in the language of Mr. Bryant:

"when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but sustain'd and sooth'd
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

In the words of the Times, "The judge retired amid a storm of applause"

Almost a hundred and fifty years later, Amelia Boynton Robinson, the Vice Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, concluded her own eulogy on the passing of her friend and fellow civil rights fighter, Rosa Parks, with the above poem of Bryant.

Another event held during the four days of centennial events was held at the Music Academy where an orchestra performed Beethoven's Egmont. A fine bust of Schiller was placed on a pedestal on the stage. This bust can now, in 2007, be seen in Central Park. There was also a life-size statue of Schiller, as well as busts of other great poets including Homer, Shakespeare, Lessing, Euripides, Goethe, and others. Enacted were selected scenes from Schiller's The Robbers, Fiesco, Mary Stuart, and the camp scene from Wallenstein. There were also "living statues" of characters from various dramas including the Maid of Orleans, Don Carlos, and William Tell.

A few months later William Cullen Bryant would introduce, in this same hall at Cooper Union, someone who was not a poet, but nonetheless a Poet of Freedom, Abraham Lincoln.

A few weeks before the Schiller centennial, in October 1859, Abraham Lincoln, Presidential aspirant accepted an invitation to lecture at Henry Ward Beecher's Church in Brooklyn. A few months later, in February of 1860, the Young Men's Republican Union assumed sponsorship of the event. One of its leading members was William Cullen Bryant, who was instrumental in gaining this sponsorship with the purpose of introducing Lincoln into New York City Republican Party circles, with the hope that they would endorse Lincoln over the then New York backed candidate William Seward.

Lincoln arrived at Cooper Union to give the lecture on February 27, 1860, although not a "poet" but nonetheless a "poet of Freedom". Lincoln gave one of his most powerful speeches of the 1860 campaign. An eyewitness said of Lincoln's address, "when Lincoln rose to speak, I was greatly disappointed. He was tall, tall, — oh how tall! And so angular and awkward that I had for an instant a feeling of pity for so ungainly a man." But once into his powerful speech "his face lighted up as with inward fire; the whole man was transfigured. I forgot his clothes, his personal appearance and his individual peculiarities. Presently, forgetting myself, I was on my feet like the rest, yelling like a wild Indian, cheering this wonderful man."

This is not the place to detail that speech, but let it be said that Lincoln, in a speech running 7,500 words, thoroughly devastated one the great lies of the South's biggest sophist ideologue, Senator Stephen Douglas. The absolute lie that the founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution would not have allowed the Federal Government to act on slavery, Lincoln systematically documented how the vast majority of the 39 signers of the Constitution, in fact supported the Federal Government's right to act against slavery. Lincoln ended his speech with the words, "Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between right and wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of 'don't care' on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did. "Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let Us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

Schiller Fest in Munich

In Germany, the homeland of Schiller, the Centennial was celebrated throughout the land in a grandeur whose description an American journalist could not improve, and therefore serves no purpose to review here. But an American journalist, one who sees himself as a member of the first modern republic, might see beyond the pageantry to see that in celebrating Schiller's birthday the people celebrate their desire for freedom and truth. As the New York Times wrote, Schiller was their "best beloved bard, Beloved, for though some may admire Goethe more, they cannot love him as much."

On November 8,1859 the Times took note, "The Schiller Celebration, it is impossible not to see, has other bearings than those of a merely literary nature. ..In fact the present extraordinary interest and simultaneous action of all parts of Germany find their primary cause in the general desire for a united Fatherland. The fortunate occurrence of this anniversary has been seized upon as a means for arousing and expressing the national feeling. In this fact lies the secret of the opposition which the celebration has met in various circles. Most governments have felt themselves obliged to countenance the movement, because the popular desire is too strong to be withstood." The New York Times reports Prussia, claiming the "critical condition of of His Majesty's health", banned all public celebrations. Nonetheless an absurd compromise was effected where "the foundation stone of a new Schiller monument will be laid; but the popular demonstration dispensed with! These, and other symptoms seem to indicate that the Prussian Government does not desire, at the preset time, a free expression of the people's hopes and wishes; for such, in fact will the Schiller's fest become..."

Meanwhile in Bavaria, "The shrewder Catholic interest of the large towns has eagerly taken this occasion to show their love for "the man of progress" as a contrast to the 'bigotry of Protestantism' manifested in Prussia. In this way they hope to make the breach between North and South Germany still wider." But our author writes despite all these attempts to manipulate the celebrations there continues a "strong feeling which lies in the German people, and which is not so much (at present) revolutionary sentiment as a bitter contempt of their petty princes (in general, if not personally,) an a readiness to slip from under the yoke with the first peaceful opportunity." In this same article the author details a campaign in the press with articles planted "sometimes by the authorities who hope to check the tide of emigration [to America] in this way!" on the alleged horrible and lawless conditions that prevail throughout the United States.

Our correspondent in a long article dated November 12 gave a full and detailed account of the varied centennial events held on the last day of the Schiller festival in Munich which were sponsored by old King Ludwig. But in an article dated November 18 R.W.R., after writing how in Vienna, as in Munich, the event was sponsored by the Monarch, whose censor carefully reviewed each proposed speech to ensure that all part deemed seditious were "scratched out", in some cases the even the word Freiheit (freedom), can one imagine speaking of Schiller and unable to utter the word Freiheit!

In Vienna, with all the "soldiery 'out of sight' it doesn't follow that they were 'out of mind,'. On the contrary, every man knew that they stood under arms in the caserne, and that their invisibility was a sign of their readiness.." In Munich the Court took over the proceedings, so the court poet wrote the poems of dedication, the court orators wrote all the speeches, the court newspapers praised them the court actors performed the dramas, "The sole event left free for the popular sentiment was — a crowd, and a hurrah."

Our journalist then describes the great dinner where all the cities' luminaries were present, including U.S. Councilor General Mr. Ten Brooke. Of course the event was carefully stage managed to present a "harmonious" display complete with court "flops", censored speeches on the various aspects of Schiller, the dramatist, the historian, the idealist, the man and even the politician, but the unfortunate reciter of the last had to cut his speech short because he found no way to get past the censor.

Then our correspondent writes, "just as everything seemed to be proceeding to such a "harmonious" termination .. what was the consternation of the contrivers to see old Dr. Neumann rise to speak.

"The Doctor was suspended from his Professorship in 1852, principally on account of the wit and ability which which he lectured on Modern History, (bringing his remarks under that thread to the very year in which he lectured, and, consequently, pretty close home.) Since that time he has won himself a much greater audience as author and his special talent will find its fitting exponent in his present undertaking — the History of the United States. This, by way of reminding you who it was that so disarranged the plan of the old fogies.

" It was Professor Neumann's first political speech since eleven years; but his talent for stump oratory is truly American, and seems not to have rusted by disuse. His remarks, though extemporaneous were, by far, the most striking and interesting of the evening. The anxiety of the "harmonious" became painful as he proceeded, after a humorous introduction and the relation of several anecdotes of Schiller, to take up the stitch which had been so awkwardly dropped, and consider Schiller as a politician, closing with a parallel between Schiller and Goethe, in which he claimed that the former was the Poet of the People, the latter the Poet of the Artists. He said that, when a young man, he once asked Baron William Humboldt why it was that the celebrated correspondence between these two greatest poets of Germany, which took place at the most interesting period of her history, when she suffered under the oppression of the foreigner, not a word was to be found about the condition of the Fatherland; only discussions as to whether Mlle.----, in dancing, held her foot so or so, and other purely aesthetic matter. In reply to which the Baron gave him to understand that Schiller would willingly have brought political matters into the correspondence, but 'the minister' declined to agree to it. It is not to be denied that after Goethe became connected directly with the Court, he chose no more popular subjects for his dramas. Egmont, the hero of the Netherlands finds no counterpart in such ideal creations as the Iphigenia. And Hermann and Dorothea is perhaps, the only work of Goethe where Nature seems stronger than Art.

Joan of Arc statue
View enlargement
Joan of Arc, Place du Parvis, Reims, France

"On the other hand, Schiller paints a Wallenstein basely treated by a tyrant Emperor; a Tell , a Joan of Arc, leaders of the people; a patriot Don Carlos, a martyr, Marie Stuart, yes, he is the People's poet."

"Such a train of thought roused the most violent opposition," our New York Times correspondent wrote, but nonetheless old Professor Neumann, "completely came off conquerer over his opponents." The author then writes that he spent so much time on this event because the theme of the contrast between Schiller as Poet of the People and Goethe the "poet of the artist" had repeated itself throughout Germany.

In showing the demonstration of how the theme of German unity pervaded the festivities, despite the manipulation of the oligarchy, our correspondent quotes a statement by a professor at the university of Wurtzburg to his student during the period of the Centennial.

"It is your turn now, you that are young. You are the hope of the Fatherland — its support for the future. We old men have labored in the cause; much is already accomplished for Freedom and for Union; it is yours to complete the good work. Do not stand aloof! Let today's solemn festivity be a symbol of the German unity. One in this spirit, we bring our heartfelt greeting to the manes of Schiller, and lay, together with the millions who like us love and honor him, the wreaths of Frame and Gratitude — the gratitude of a nation — yes, a world upon his grave!"

In 1863, the American Civil War was raging, and Old Professor Karl Freidrich Neumann published his History of the United States, which was the first such history to have been written in Germany. He dedicated it to Lincoln followed by the following quote from Benjamin Franklin, "America best cultivates what Germany brought forth." In his foreword, Neumann writes that the American Constitution should form the basis for a constitution for the German "Fatherland." It goes without saying that throughout the Civil War, Neumann was one of Germany's most passionate supporters of Lincoln and the Union struggle.


Excerpts from Wallenstein

by William F. Wertz

November 2007

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Friedrich Schiller portrait
Friedrich Schiller
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In celebration of Friedrich Schiller's birthday, we publish translations of Schiller's Prologue to the Wallenstein trilogy and Wallenstein's soliloquy in Wallenstein's Death. These selections are especially relevant in light of Lyndon LaRouche's recent piece on the Force of Tragedy. In his soliloquy, Wallenstein identifies the enemy of humanity as this and, by implication, other great moments in history when decisive action is required, as an invisible force, which he refers to as the force of custom — the eternal yesterday.

The purpose of Schiller's trilogy is to incite in the audience the revolutionary capacity to effectively overcome the cultural habits which led Europe during the 30 Years War to its self-destruction, until the conflict was ended with the Treaty of Westphalia based on the contrary, anti-entropic principle of the advantage of the other.

Prologue to Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein

Spoken at the reopening of the theater in Weimar in October 1798

The play of jesting and of earnest masks,
To which you've lent a willing ear and eye
So often, devoted your tender souls,
Unites us once again within this hall —
And look! It's been rejuvenated, art
Has beautified it as a cheerful temple,
And an harmonic lofty spirit speaks
To us out of this noble column order
And animates the mind with festive feelings.

Yet this is still the theater of old,
The cradle of so many youthful powers,
The pathway of so much arising talent,
We're still our same old selves, who have been trained
With ardent drive and zealousness before you.
A noble master stood upon this place,
Enchanting you by his creative genius
Unto the cheerful summit of his art.
Oh! May this room's new dignity attract
The worthiest of all into our midst,
And may one hope, which we have long preserved,
Appear to us in radiant fulfillment.

A great example wakens emulation
And gives unto our judgment higher laws.
So let this circle stand, the brand-new stage
As evidence of the perfected talent.
Where might it also rather test its powers,
Rejuvenate and recreate its former fame,
Than here before a well-selected circle,
Which, sensitive to each enchanting stroke
Of art, with gently moving feeling snatches
The mind in its most transient appearance?

For rapidly and tracelessly the art
Of mimes, the wonderful, fades from our mind,
Whereas the chisel's figure and the song
O'th' poet after centuries live on.
But here the magic dies off with the artist,
And as the sound trails off within the ear,
The moment's swift creation dies away,
And no enduring work preserves its fame.
Hard is the art, and fleeting is its prize,
For the mime, posterity entwines no garlands;
Therefore, he must be greedy for the present,
Fulfill the moment, which is his, completely,
Assure himself of his contemporaries,
And in the feelings of the best and worthiest,
Erect a living monument-Thus, in
Advance he takes his name's eternity.
For who has done sufficient for the best
Of his own time, has lived for all the ages.

The modern era, which for Thalia's art
Begins today upon this stage, has made
The poet also bold, the old course leaving,
To transfer you from out the narrow sphere
Of bourgeois life unto a higher scene,
Not undeserving of the sublime moment
Of time, in which we're moved aspiringly.
For only subjects of great import can
Excite the deep foundation of mankind;
In the narrow sphere the mind becomes more narrow,
But man grows greater with his greater aims.

And now upon the century's earnest end,
Where actuality itself is turned
To poetry, where we behold the struggle
Of potent natures which is undertaken
For an important goal and for great issues
Of humankind, for mastery and freedom--
Now art may too engage in higher flight
Upon its shadow stage, indeed it must,
Lest it be put to shame by life's own stage.

Within these days we see the old fixed form
Collapse, which once a hundred fifty years
Ago bestowed upon the realms of Europe
A welcome peace, the costly fruit derived
From thirty woeful years of war. Now once
Again permit the poet's fantasy
To bring that melancholy time before you,
And gaze more happily into the present
And towards the hopeful distance of the future.

Into the middle of that war the poet
Puts you now. Sixteen years of desolation,
Of theft, of misery have flown away,
In gloomy masses ferments still the world,
And from afar no hope of peace shines forth.
The Empire is a romper-field of weapons,
Deserted are the cities, Magdeburg
In ruins, art and industry lie low,
The citizen is naught, the soldier all,
Unpunished insolence makes fun of morals,
And brutal hordes, made wild in lengthy war,
Encamp upon the devastated earth.

Upon this gloomy background is depicted,
An undertaking of bold arrogance
And also an audacious character.
You know him-the creator of bold armies,
The idol of the camp and scourge of nations.
The pillar and the terror of his Emperor,
Felicity's adventurous adopted son,
Who, born aloft by the favor of the times,
Scaled rapidly the highest rungs of honor
And, never sated striving always further,
Fell victim to his unrestrained ambition.
Confused by the favor and the hate of parties,
In history our image of him wavers;
But art shall bring him closer as a man
Before your eyes and also to your heart.
For art, which binds and limits everything,
Reduces everything extreme to nature,
It sees this man amid the throng of life
And shifts the greater portion of the blame
From him unto his inauspicious stars.

It is not he, who will appear upon
This stage today. But in the daring troops,
Which his command with might directs, his spirit
Inspires, you will confront a shadow-image,
Until the bashful Muse herself shall dare
To place him in his living form before you;
For 'tis his power, which seduces his heart,
His camp alone elucidates his crime.

Therefore, forgive the poet, if he does
Not pull you all at once with rapid steps
Unto his story's goal, but only dares
To unroll his enormous subject-matter
Before your eyes, in an array of paintings.
May this day's play gain vict'ry o'er your ear
And o'er your heart for unaccustomed tones;
May it return you to that period of time,
Back to that foreign theater of war,
Which soon our hero with his actions will

And if today the Muse, unshackled
Goddess of dancing and of song, should claim
In modesty her ancient German right
Once more, the play of rhyme-do not rebuke her!
Yes, thank her, that she transfers the dire image
Of truth into the cheerful realm of art,
Herself uprightly destroys the deception,
Which she creates, and does not substitute
Fallaciously its semblance for the truth;
Life is in earnest, art's serenely cheerful.

****************** Act I. Scene 4 of Wallenstein's Death ******************

WALLENSTEIN (speaking to himself):

Were't possible? Could I no more, as I wished?
No more return, as't pleases me? I must
Perform the deed, because I thought of it,
Drove the temptation not from me — my heart
Did nourish with this dream, for an uncertain
Accomplishment have laid aside the means,
Have merely kept my pathways to it open? —
By the great God o'th' Heavens! I was not
In earnest, 'twas ne'er a decided thing.
Myself I merely flattered with the thought;
The freedom and capacity enticed me.
Was it not right, for me to take delight
In the deceptive hope of royalty?
Did not free will remain within my breast,
And saw I not the good path at my side,
Which always kept return open to me?
Where then see I myself led suddenly?
Pathless lies it behind me and a wall
Is erected by my own endeavors,
Which towering doth impede my turning back! —
(He remains standing deep in thought)
Culpable I seem, and I can not shake
The guilt from me, however I may try;
The ambiguity of my life indicts me,
And — even my pure deed of pious source
Suspicion will, with wicked meaning, poison.
Was I, as I am held to be, the traitor,
I would have kept up good appearances,
A mantle had I drawn around me tightly,
Ne'er lent a voice to anger. Conscious of
The innocence of my unseduced will,
I gave way to my temper, to my passion —
Bold were the words, because the deed was not.
Now, what occurred without a plan, they will
Knit together, farseeing, as fully planned,
And what my anger, and my joyous spirit
Let me speak i'th' profusion of my heart,
They will join to me in an artful web,
And make thereof a fearful accusation,
Which I must face in silence. Thus have I
Fatally ensnared myself with my own net,
And but a violent act can rip it free.
(Again standing still)
How different! then the free impulse of courage
Drew me to the bold act, which harshly bidding
Need, preservation now demand of me.
Grave is the appearance of necessity.
Not without a shudder dips the hand of man
Into the mysterious urn of destiny.
Within my bosom was my deed yet mine:
Once released from out the protected corner
Of my heart, its maternal origin,
Sent forth into the foreign lands of life,
It belongs unto those malicious powers,
Which no man's art can make reliable.
(He paces intensely through the room, then he stands still
again in thought)
And what is thy beginning? Hast thou even
Acknowledged honestly to thy self? Thou would'st
Shake the tranquil, securely reigning power
Which in deep-rooted, sanctified possession,
In ancient custom rests firmly grounded,
Which to the people's pious childhood faith
Is fastened with a thousand stubborn roots.
This will not be a war of strength with strength:
That fear I not. With any foe I'll venture,
Whom I can see and look into the eye,
Who, full of courage, kindles mine in turn.
It is a foe invisible, whom I feared,
Who in the breast of men opposes me,
By cowardly fear alone to me appalling —
Not what proclaims itself alive and forceful,
Is dangerously terrible. 'Tis what's
Quite common, the eternal yesterday,
What always was and always reappears,
And tomorrow's good, because today 'twas good!
For out of what is common is man made,
And force of habit he doth call his nurse,
Woe's him, who moves his worthy ancient household
Effects, the precious heirlooms of his forebears!
The year exerts a consecrating force,
What's gray from age, that is to him divine.
Be in possession and thou dwellst i'th' right,
And sacredly the crowd will guard it for thee.
(To the page, who enters)
Is it the Swedish Colonel? Now, he comes.
(The page exits. Wallenstein has fixed his glance pensively
on the door)
Yet, it is pure — as yet! The crime has not
Come o'er this threshold yet — So narrow is
The boundary, which life's two paths divide!

Related Pages:

About Friedrich Schiller

Biography of Friedrich Schiller

Translations of Schiller’s Work

Lessons of Wallenstein- Let's Put Out the Flames of the 30 Years War (2005)

The Beauty of Rosa Parks by Amelia Boynton Robinson