Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
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Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
 
War and Peace
By Detlev von Liliencron (1844–1909)
 
’MID flower beds I chanced to stand,
And gazed upon a gorgeous land
That blooming wide before me lay
Beneath the harvest sun’s hot ray;
And in the apple-tree’s fair shade        5
My host and I together stayed
And listened to a nightingale,
And peace was over hill and dale.
There whizzed, the distant rails along,
A train that brought a happy throng.        10
What magic! And besides it bore
Of blessèd goods a heavy store.
But once I saw the iron track
Destroyed and torn for miles. Alack—
And here where flowers now abound        15
Was then a barren, stirred-up ground.
 
A summer morn was glowing bright,
Like this one: down from every height,
With bag and knapsack all day long,
From ambuscades there poured a throng        20
Prepared to storm, a dazzling sea,
The army of the enemy.
I stood as though of iron cast,
Upon my sabre leaning, fast.
With lips apart and open-eyed        25
Into the mouth of hell I spied.
“Quick fire!” “Stand still!” Now they are there!
High waves the flag through smoky air!
And up and down go men in rows,
And many sink in deadly throes.        30
Now someone stabs me as I fall,
Stabs hard—I have no strength at all.
Before, beneath me, round about,
A frightful struggle, rage and rout.
And o’er this tangle wild, in fear        35
I see a shying war horse rear.
The hoof I see like lightning whir,
The clotted scar from pricking spur,
The girth, the spattered mud, the red
Of nostrils swelling wide with dread.        40
Between us now with clanging sound
The bombshell bursts its iron bound;
A dragon rears, the earth is rent—
Down falls the whole wide firmament!
They wail and moan, and dust is spread        45
Upon the laurels and the dead.
 
’Mid flower beds I chanced to stand
And gazed upon a gorgeous land
That far and wide before me lay
Beneath the peace-fan’s lulling sway.        50
And in the apple-trees’ fair shade
My host and I together stayed
And hearkened to the nightingale;
And roses bloomed on hill and dale.
 
 
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