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Kein Eroberungskrieg! So scholl das heilige Wort einst,
Das ihr uns gabt, verehret, als nie verehret ein Volk ward;
Und (so deucht’ es uns) Stimmen Unsterblicher wiederholten:
Künftig nicht mehr Eroberungskrieg.
Und jetzt führet ihr ihn, den allverderbenden, seyd gar
Große Krieger, ersteigt mit schlagendem Herzen, mit heißem
Durste nach Ruhm, im Orkan der Leidenschaft, des Kampfspiels
Schimmernde Höh, die . . . Abgrund ist.
Lernet den Schauplatz kennen, auf dem ihr groß seyd: Auf ihm brüllt
Beifall der Löwe euch zu, heult euch vom Triumph der Wolf vor,
Schreit mit der feinen neronischen Stimm euch von nievergeßnem
Ewigen Namen der Geier vor.
Wenn ihr auch ganz das Gebäu des Staats umstürzetet, mußte
Dennoch die nievernommene, die menschliche, edle Verheissung
Unerschüttert stehn in der Mitte der großen Trümmer,
Stehn wie der Fels im Ozean!
No wars of aggression! So rang once the sacred word
Given to us, honored as never a people was honored;
And (so it seemed to us) the voices of the immortals repeated:
Let there be no more wars of aggression!
And yet now you conduct one, a war that brings destruction everywhere; indeed you are
Great warriors, scaling with pounding hearts, with hot
Thirst for fame, in a storm of passion, the shimmering heights of
This war game, which… is a precipice.
Get to know that stage upon which you are great:
The lion roars at you there, the wolf howls in triumph before you,
The vulture screams to you with its fine Neronian voice
About unforgettable, eternal fame.
True you may topple the organs of the state,
But will that humane, that most noble promise not stand
Unshaken in the middle of the vast ruins,
Like a rock rising up from the ocean!
–Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Das Versprechen (1795) in: Werke, vol. 2 (Oden), pp. 185-86 (Göschen ed. 1798)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Price of ten pencils made from “recycled twigs,” from the Nature Company:
A loggerhead turtle in a Kobe aquarium at last achieved swimming success with her twenty-seventh set of prosthetic fins. “When her children hatch,” said the aquarium’s director, “well, I just feel that would make all the trauma in her life worthwhile.”
In Colombia, U.N. delegates sent to serve as impartial observers of the peace process aimed at ending the half-century-long war between the FARC and the Colombian government were chastised after they were filmed dancing and getting drunk with FARC fighters at a New Year’s Eve party.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."