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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Karl Theodor Körner (1791–1813)

Translation of Charles Timothy Brooks

MY people, wake! The signal-fires are smoking;

Bright breaks the light of Freedom from the north;

’Tis time thy steel in foemen’s hearts was reeking.

My people, wake! The signal-fires are smoking;

The fields are white: ye reapers, hasten forth!

The last, the highest hope lies in the sword;

Home to thy bleeding breast their lances strain;

Make way for Freedom! Let thy blood be poured,

To cleanse thy German land from every stain.

Ours is no war of which crowned heads are dreaming;

’Tis a crusade, a holy war we wage!

Faith, virtue, conscience, truth, and honor mourn;

These has the tyrant from thy bosom torn;

Thy Freedom’s victory saves them from his rage.

The moanings of thy aged cry, “Awake!”

Thy homes in ashes curse the invading brood,

Thy daughters in disgrace for vengeance shriek,

The ghosts of slaughtered sons shriek wild for blood.

Break up the plowshare, let the chisel fall,

The lyre be hushed, the shuttle cease its play;

Forsake thy courts, leave giddy Pleasure’s hall:

He in whose sight thy banners flutter, all,

Will see his people now in war’s array.

For thou shalt build a mighty altar soon

In his eternal Freedom’s morning sky;

With thy good sword shall every stone be hewn;

On heroes’ graves the temple’s base shall lie.

Ye maidens and ye wives, for whom the Lord

Of Hosts the dreadful sword hath never steeled,

When ’mid your spoilers’ ranks we gladly leap,

And bare our bosoms to the strife, why weep

That you may not stand forth on glory’s field?—

Before God’s altar joyfully repair;

The pangs of anxious love your wounds must be;

To you He gives, in every heartfelt prayer,

The spirit’s pure and bloodless victory.

Then pray that God would wake the slumbering fire,

And rouse his old heroic race to life;

And oh, as stern avenging spirits, call

The buried German martyrs, one and all,

As holy angels of the holy strife!

Spirit of Ferdinand, lead thou the van!

Louisa, faithful to thy spouse, be nigh!

And all ye shades of German heroes, on,

With us, with us, where’er our banners fly!

The might of Heaven is with us; Hell must cower:

On, valiant people! on! ’Tis Freedom’s cry!

Thy heart beats high, high up thy old oaks tower:

Heed not thy hills of slain in victory’s hour;

Plant Freedom’s banner there to float on high.

And now, my people, when thou standest free,

Robed in the brightness of thy old renown,

Let not the faithful dead forgotten be,

And place upon our urn the oaken crown!