No Comment — December 5, 2007, 12:10 am

Heine’s ‘Silesian Weavers’

kollwitz_weavers_on_the_march-1897

Im düstern Auge keine Träne,
Sie sitzen am Webstuhl und fletschen die Zähne:
Deutschland, wir weben dein Leichentuch,
Wir weben hinein den dreifachen Fluch -
–Wir weben, wir weben!

Ein Fluch dem Gotte, zu dem wir gebeten
In Winterskälte und Hungersnöten;
Wir haben vergebens gehofft und geharrt,
Er hat uns geäfft und gefoppt und genarrt -
–Wir weben, wir weben!

Ein Fluch dem König, dem König der Reichen,
Den unser Elend nicht konnte erweichen,
Der den letzten Groschen von uns erpreßt
Und uns wie die Hunde erschießen läßt -
–Wir weben, wir weben!

Ein Fluch dem falschen Vaterlande,
Wo nur gedeihen Schmach und Schande,
Wo jede Blume früh geknickt,
Wo Fäulnis und Moder den Wurm erquickt -
–Wir weben, wir weben!

Das Schiffchen fliegt, der Webstuhl kracht,
Wir weben emsig Tag und Nacht -
Altdeutschland, wir weben dein Leichentuch,
Wir weben hinein den dreifachen Fluch,
–Wir weben, wir weben!

In sad eyes there sheds no tear,
They sit at the loom and grind their teeth:
Germany, we weave your shroud;
And into it we weave a threefold curse–
–We weave; we weave.

One curse upon the God to whom we prayed
In Winter’s chill and hunger’s despair;
In vain did we hope and persevere,
He mocked, hoaxed and ridiculed us–
–We weave; we weave.

A curse upon the king, the rich man’s king
Who did naught to soften our misery,
Who pried the last penny from our hands
And had us shot like dogs–
–We weave; we weave.

A curse upon the false fatherland,
Where nothing thrives but disgrace and shame,
Where every flower buckles before its day,
Where rot and mold hasten the worm’s work–
–We weave; we weave.

The shuttle flies, the loom creaks,
Assiduously we weave day and night–
Old Germany, we weave your shroud,
We weave into it a three-fold curse,
–We weave; we weave!

Heinrich Heine, Die schlesischen Weber in Deutschland: Ein Wintermärchen (1844) in Sämtliche Schriften, vol. 4, p. 455 (K. Bliegreb ed. 1971)(S.H. transl.)

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