No Comment — December 21, 2007, 7:00 am

Klopstock’s No Wars of Aggression!

david-napoleon

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.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

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

Burn Pits

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.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2017

Black Like Who?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Matter of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

City of Gilt

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tyranny of the Minority

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Texas is the Future

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Family Values

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Texas is the Future·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Itchy Nose·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Artwork (detail) © The Kazuto Tatsuta/Kodansha Ltd
Article
A Matter of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Edwin Tse
Article
Black Like Who?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Number of Supreme Court justices in 1984 who voted against legalizing the recording of TV broadcasts by VCR:

4

A Spanish design student created a speech-recognition pillow into which the restive confide their worries, which are then printed out in the morning.

Greece evacuated 72,000 people from the town of Thessaloniki while an undetonated World War II–era bomb was excavated from beneath a gas station.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"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."

Subscribe Today