Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
Men and Boys
Karl Theodor Körner (1791–1813)
 
From the German by Charles Timothy Brooks

THE STORM is out; the land is roused;
Where is the coward who sits well housed?
Fie on thee, boy, disguised in curls,
Behind the stove, ’mong gluttons and girls!
    A graceless, worthless wight thou must be;        5
    No German maid desires thee,
    No German song inspires thee,
    No German Rhine-wine fires thee.
        Forth in the van,
        Man by man,        10
    Swing the battle-sword who can!
 
When we stand watching, the livelong night,
Through piping storms, till morning light,
Thou to thy downy bed canst creep,
And there in dreams of rapture sleep.
    A graceless, worthless wight, etc.
        15
 
When, hoarse and shrill, the trumpet’s blast,
Like the thunder of God, makes our heart beat fast,
Thou in the theatre lov’st to appear,
Where trills and quavers tickle the ear.
    A graceless, worthless wight, etc.
 
When the glare of noonday scorches the brain,        20
When our parchèd lips seek water in vain,
Thou canst make champagne corks fly
At the groaning tables of luxury.
    A graceless, worthless wight, etc.
 
When we, as we rush to the strangling fight,
Send home to our true-loves a long “Good-night,”        25
Thou canst hie thee where love is sold,
And buy thy pleasure with paltry gold.
    A graceless, worthless wight, etc.
 
When lance and bullet come whistling by,
And death in a thousand shapes draws nigh,
Thou canst sit at thy cards, and kill        30
King, queen, and knave with thy spadille.
    A graceless, worthless wight, etc.
 
If on the red field our bell should toll,
Then welcome be death to the patriot’s soul!
Thy pampered flesh shall quake at its doom,
And crawl in silk to a hopeless tomb.        35
    A pitiful exit thine shall be;
    No German maid shall weep for thee,
    No German song shall they sing for thee,
    No German goblets shall ring for thee.
        Forth in the van,        40
        Man for man,
    Swing the battle-sword who can!
 
 
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