Das Buch der Deutschen in America: Pages 398 - 402

His moods and his subjects are original and gripping. The themes are great and powerful, mostly drawn from antiquity or with historical settings such as the burning of Rome, Persepolis, Lucretia, Hannibal, Napoleon and Cleopatra. With a clever grasp he chooses just the right moment in the lives of his heros and he clothes his song in glowing verse.

It is bearly possible to do justice to the poet in the confines of these few sentences. It seems only advisable to introduce a few of his most prominent poems. Above all, there is the masterful and therefore famous Roman Night. Like all of Brachvogel's poems it is relatively long. Our poet seems to be of Poe's mind, that a poetic work of art must have a length of about a hundred verses in order to work properly. Much can be said for this principle if one can not also admit that here and there the length becomes a bit tiresome, yet the passionate language used by Brachvogel transports us past this. The blond favorite of Nero recites Virgil to him:

"Suddenly the voice of the favorite stilled
Before the emperor he lowered his head —
"Alas, I can recite no more poetry,
For the poet's muse has died in me,
To truly sing the song that I learned
First I must see how Troy burned — —"
Nero said as he furrowed his brow,
Boy, cease with this nonsense right now."

And while Rome went up in flames, the young singer took up his lyre:

"Now I can understand Virgil."

The poet powerfully knows how to use pyrotechnic effect is his less famous work, Persepolis. Here Ammonide promises the courtesan Thais that before he leaves her he will cast a spell to bring back the red of the evening sky with the burning of the city.

"And the earth will scream in terror
 but you heart will rejoice."

Roses on the Nile is worthy of being ranked among these compositions although here the effect all to often is far fetched. However there are lines in the poem, which fill one with astonishment and wonder worthy of a queen, who

"bore Rome twice over in her hair
 at a celebration of Anthony."

In form, Capua is perhaps the most excellent of Brachvogel's poems and contains a singularly new effect:

"The defiant peaks
 unsullied by Alpine snow,
 orange blossoms hunch over
 and cover you now."

If Brachvogel's poems seem, as they must, to make great use of imagery, you are not mistaken. They all have a peculiar charm, a stark individuality and perhaps we can do nothing better than conclude with a few lines of a Brachvogel poem titled The Scented Candles, which wonderfully characterizes the grandiose soaring of his poetry:

"I see before me as myrtles shimmer
 Out of the cave of my fantasy
 rises the splendor of antiquity
 the echo, like a prayer,
 cries from the temple ruin."

            G. S. Viereck

To Friends visiting the Garden

In the world all I find
is warfare and travail
but closed off by my garden fence
peace and harmony prevail.

My flowers never wage war
they've never been suppressed
they know nothing of weaponry
others to oppress.

Thus I hold their company dear
alone with them I'd remain
For they bear the yoke of Christ
without causing others pain.
            Franz Daniel Pastorius

How shall I describe
the wonderment inside
So much more than love,
this burning in my heart.
How shall I reveal
the love that I feel
I am smitten, I can't help it
O, pure and chaste bride of heaven!
I will tell all of your love
as it was entrusted to my soul,
for your truth has moved me.
I devote everything to you.
You have drawn me to yourself
and permeated my senses.
            Conrad Beissel

O torturous love! O sweet plague!
Quicken the time! Let the hour come!
Delay the day no longer,
Contemplate the true communion;
Proclaim it for all the world to hear!
            Johann Kelpius

To Mary
(South Carolina, 1849)

The sound of your name — life is so troubled,
people forget— not divided by quarrel
or misunderstanding, or in purposeful avoidance.
Oh, they'll put forth a token effort
to bring you a lovely bouquet
counting on a blessing for each blossom.
They see each year how the rift grows
'til one soul no longer joins with another.
They well regard the rich casings of love
yet let the true essence decay, carelessly
letting unravel what should be tightly bound;
thus hearts forget how to nourish each other.
They can no longer hold off that sorrow,
whose forgetting cannot be forgotten.
            Franz Lieber

Almost All Alone (January 1877)

How often among my circle of friends
so many years ago.
Time flew amidst heightened emotion,
joking response and serious word.

There were so many good men
closely bonded with me.
We all worked towards the same goals.
We were united in mind and hand.

Where have they all gone?
Now they seem distant; once they were so near;
As I still travel the earth
I ask "am I the only one left?"

So long ago that time flew away
My soul reflects and questions.
Should I continue to struggle on alone,
to live, to breathe, to strive?

When will my time come
I've seen so many leave.
I will not falter and lose heart,
as I remain almost alone.

I'm not complaining, all things
must pass — all things decline;
Let the wind scatter my ashes.
Another will take my place.
            Friedrich Münch

Set Sail

Motto: Turn around and see in the distance
Only water and the sky's reflection
But look up to the stars
There resides the father of nature

Surrounded by waves of white-capped foam,
jettisoned from our homes by the wind;
accompanying us on our way to peace,

The masts reach up to the heavens
the keel sits deep with its load;
above and below the decks abound
with passengers.

Those, who witness the fatherland's ills
and can tolerate them no longer;
those, who would flee the yoke of slavery,
move on.
            Paul Schmidt

I am a Pennsylvanian

I am a Pennsylvanian
Of this I am pleased and proud
The land is lovely; the people, friendly
By gosh, I'll wager
There's no finer place in the world.

I am of German descent
Of this I am justly proud
Germans are steadfast people,
Thrifty, industrious, the salt of the earth;
There are no finer people in this world.

Take a peek in any of the fields
Of the land we call Pennsylvania.
Everything grows large and fine
Everyone is healthy and strong.
There is no finer land in the world!

And it's not just what's above the ground
That grows large and fine;
Down below there's so much more:
Coal, iron, more precious than gold.
There's no finer land in the world.
            Ludwig August Wollenweber

At Niagara (1852)

(Under the Rock Ledge)

From rocks water trickles one drop at a time
In a steady and uniform act;
But a cauldron seethes in these eyes of mine
The blustering cataract. —
High above the rock tower wall
A canopy for the head,
Pencil to hand, I describe it all
As the mist dampens the ledge.

What a poet's chair, for feet below
the bubbling waterworld lies!
Battling the rock ledge with its undertow
With a hero's wild, enraged cries.
Constant conflict grown forever louder
As it makes its path to the sea;
Veils of mist like exploded gunpowder
Thundering a victor's decree.

Alone amid this pummeling frustration
I sit on a rocky perch
And ponder the battle's duration
As well as man's struggle on earth.
Niagara's course, man's emancipation
An eternal fight for a path;
The way to full liberation
To wit both strive in their wrath.

To the bottom the river crashes,
Rock dissolved to shards by the steam.
Waves clash and foam splashes
Then recede and flow downstream.
No limits, no boundries, no stopping,
No stone in its way stands a chance.
To the ocean so proudly flowing,
Victorious in its advance.

No landslide or lake can slow it down
Flowing past cities at its silvery strand
Skirting 'round mountains and meadows,
To the east departing the land.
Through rapids and caves, both day and night,
Its course majestic and free,
Swinging past ships in dancing delight
Bringing treasures down to the sea.

So too for humanity, in battle and need
Victoriously forging its path
To an unfettered future in word and deed
Forgetting the strife and the wrath.
Niagara is thundering in my ear
To my heart it imparts inspiration.
I write out this poem so that you may hear,
Dear warriors, the hope in this dedication!
            Caspar Butz


Reality unites with illusion,
In the mirror the old appear young,
The dead seem to be living,
We call this "remembering".
            Karl Heinzen

Cloudy Days

Gray and overcast, fog-filled days
Are good and bad for the soul,
Suited well to melancholy
Caused by love gone cold.

If only the wicked sunshine
Left depression undisturbed
Then mournful eyes could relase
Their torrent of hot tears.

Oh sun, you bitter, evil thing,
burning such blazing light
You make fun of my sorrow
And the poetry I write.
            Friedrich Hassaureck

A Wish

Let my body be consumed on the funeral pyre
Once death takes my breath away.
I shudder to think of lying in decay,
In the cold earth feeding the worms.

Grant the ultimate honor to me
See that my spirit is cleaned
From haughty and servile nature redeemed
As a rain of fire sets me free.

When the sun sets each evening,
Torches mimic the light
Until it returns in the morning.

After my death, let torches burn bright,
So flames may consume by being
And release me for the heavenward flight.
            Eduard Dorsch

For the Turners (Gymnasts)

Tumble and stretch with all your might
Fight to stay in shape.
Even while climbing, consider
What you have in common with an ape.

To a Satirist

If you don't have the intellect
Don't crack a satirical whip;
You can't be a Mephisto
If you don't have the wit!

To a "Humorist"

So many think they're funny
With written and spoken words;
But every now and then we see,
They're only poisonous toads.
            Otto Brethauer

The Empire's Banner (1870)

Welcome, black, red and white banner
We follow you with sorrowful pride
Into battle as victory's winner!
For your bloody laurel crown
Onward! To the French throne.
Soon it will lie in wreck and ruin
Onward now and off to battle! In the end it will be
A united Germany, strong and free!

What we hoped but dared not say
Our foes have joked about anyway!
A united Germany lives once more!
No Prussian, Baden or Bavarian border
From Rhine to North Sea, all one order,
All now German Brothers!
Onward now and off to battle! In the end it will be
A united Germany, strong and free!

Whether black, red, white or black, red, gold
The German banner is unrolled.
Danger may threaten from afar.
We'll pay no heed, but call us to fight
We'll swing and hack for Germany's right
We'll die for the Fatherland!
Onward now and off to battle! In the end it will be
A united Germany, strong and free!
            Friedrich Otto Dresel

To My Fatherland

I own not one tree from your forests,
Not a single blade of rye from your fields.
You've driven me out, defenseless.
In my youth I didn't understand
How to love myself more and you much less,
But I love you anyway, my Fatherland!

Where is there a heart in which no longer resides
The sweet dream of youth's first love,
And holier than love was this ifre
Which once blazed for you in my heart
More fervently than a groom for his bride
This you were to me, beloved Fatherland!

Hasn't enough manna rained from the sky?
Hasn't heaven bestowed on you enough blessing?
I've seen the wonders of the southern zones
Since I last stood on your shores
But more beautiful than palms and lemons
Are the apple trees of my Fatherland!

Oh land of my fathers but no longer mine!
No holier realm lives than thine.
The vision will never depart my soul,
I'm still tied to you by a vital band
And when death exacts its final toll
I'll lie beneath you, my Fatherland!

If only those who remain at home
Loved you as much as those who must roam
Such a vast empire you'd become
Your children could link hand in hand
Making yours the greatest kingdom
The best you could be, O Fatherland!
            Conrad Krez

Then and Now

Once I dreamed of a romantic land
Where I was a knight on a steed.
I fought with giants and dragons;
I sailed the shimmering sea.

I saw gnomes living in the forest,
Water nymphs singing on the shore,
Elves lightly dancing in the moonlight,
Alas, these dreams live no more.

The page of life has turned for me,
Larger than life fantasies are dead.
Now, like a German Philistine,
I fight for my daily bread.

All the goblins have moved away
From the bush, the hills and the grotto.
They've been replaced by two little boys
In the house, the yard and the meadow.

So sweetly their mother calls to them;
Like elves furiously dashing,
They run through the house and jump in the tub,
Joyfully kicking and splashing.

The magic of the romantic woods
Is replaced by the Christmas tree,
For when six eyes look up in hope,
The heavens smile down upon me.
            Edmund Märklin


There's never been an earthly dream
Full of hope and happiness,
That didn't have within it
Some pain and hopelessness.
Unless you're willing to close your heart
Which carries so much grief,
You'll never feel the passion,
Which brings redemption and relief.

There has never been a joyful eye
Which didn't sometimes hold a tear.
There's never been a ray of light,
Which wasn't cast on a funeral bier.
We see beautiful buds blossom,
Wilt and then fade away.
We look to the stars, then behold
As night succumbs to day.

There has never been a noble heart,
A spirit of power and worth,
Who did not, amid his striving,
Bring pain upon the earth. —
How often has the laurel crown,
Woven for the hero's head,
Brought doubt rather than certainty
And broken his spirit instead?

There never has been on this earth,
And there will never be,
A time without passion and folly
When mankind will be free.
All things change, this is true
But it seems dreadfully unjust
That centuries of words and deeds
Are nothing more than dust.
            Adolph Wallich

Leaving Germany

"We were moving down the Rhine.
Others sang and said goodbye
But I felt great sadness,
As tears filled my eye.

Others joyously drank the wine,
One person played a zither
I could feel my heartstrings break
And the wine tasted quite bitter."
            Adolph Puckner

The Wanderer's Fate

How often a young man has hoped and planned,
To flee from his fathers' home
To dream of the singular path he'll roam
To seek out the fairytale land.

Touring about, perhaps finding fortune too!
Was this the dream, which led you away?
You forsook your home; if you go back today
Will anyone be there to embrace you?

I could have settled for less instead of wanting more.
I would rather have remained in the fatherland,
Immersing my soul in the sweet air of home.

But treasure abounded on the foreign shore.
I'm forever cut off on a distant strand
Homesick and doomed to die all alone.
            Julius Dresel

Stand On Your Own

Stand on your own! Never leave it to another
To carry a burden, which is meant for you.
A child places one foot in front of the other
When learning to walk, holding onto a stool.
But in order to take those first firm strides
You must stand erect with your hands at your sides.

Stand on your own! In peaceful self reliance
Take hold of the rudder, steer your own course.
It takes strong arms to counter the currents
To reach the safe harbor, to face the storm's force.
But if you rely on another to be your guide
Then your journey ends badly when you capsize.

Stand on your own! Humans are a fickle breed.
If they see your happiness, they'll take it away.
Even those indebted by your good deed
Would abandon you to misfortune today.
Most people are full of lies and trickery
Having no care for anyone else's destiny.

Stand on your own! Take on no one else's chains,
Even those forged of finest gold will enslave you.
You can save yourself only by using your brains,
And although a beggar, you'll be a rich man too.
Fate deals many heavy blows but when your time is nigh
You'll find you can leave this earth with your head held high.
            August Steinlein

To Spring - a Rondeau

O gentle spring, you bestow your blessing
Once again on the fields and pastures.
After fiercest winter you hasten to bring
The joy of life's renewed raptures.
The blustering winds bid their adieu,
And gentle breezes beckon anew.
As birds twitter their happy tunes
And meadows abound with colorful blooms,
Aglisten with pearly morning dew.
By you alone all life resumes,
O, gentle spring.

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Text provided by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks