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EWALD, Johannes



When I Was Ill


Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis – Horace:


Happy the man, who far from life’s allure

Is not too rich – and likewise not too poor

Whose soul untroubled then can contemplate,

The being too that it should emulate!

Should fools’ acclaim and glory’s empty shell –

Should heaps of gleaming metal and their spell –

Should golden chains – a slave that has been crowned –

The world – as dear as our own soul be found?

Why did your once strong soul sink helplessly,

You first of men – deep – to inconstancy?

Why did you quail at the Almighty’s hand?

Distraction your wise spirit not withstand?

For all distraction marks the soul’s demise,

At anger’s voice all thoughts are scattered wide

In great confusion they now reel about

Midst things both good and bad weave in and out,

Soul hold to blessedness! – ’tis yours today!

By dust you are from heaven called away!

Chimera swallows all the dust you saw!

Your own thoughts you do not know any more!

Ah! – when devotion – when my prayers are warm,

When I uplifted – high – on mercy’s arm,

Spread God abroad – and feel divinely blessed,

Why does Dorine then come to my breast?

And when I found pure love in its full flush

The fire at which no wise man e’er would blush,

Why does a thought of Homer then wrench free

My soul from that fair Helen whom I see?

Ah! were our thoughts but constant, good and wise

Our soul would find – and stay in paradise!

For blessedness reflection can espy

It feels it but is not attached thereby.

Oh child of Adam! – oh unhappy one!

Why do you seek distraction you should shun?

Why are you faint? – Behold the maelstrom – quake!

Think now! – is not your precious self at stake?

Happy the man who’s not by clink so gay

Of brimful glass – nor by the sirens’ lay

Nor the enslaving voice of gold – nor clash

Of murd’rous steel, nor by some herald brash

Nor false friends’ mocking tones – nor wretches’ tears

The tedium of bores – fools’ counsel’s snares

Nor by foes’ mighty roar – or weak men’s cries,

Deprived of God – joy – sense – himself likewise!

Welcome you poison raging in my breast!

Welcome all pain that has my joy suppressed!

And lack – you who it was took my last friend,

Welcome! – since you gave me myself again.

Since my Creator only can know pure delight,

And without others’ help be happy quite,

I will then honour him – my self stay nigh,

Forget all fame – and gold – each roar – and cry!


The Delights Of Rungsted. An Ode


You shadows refreshing,

You darkness from roses now stealing;

Where busily nesting

The songstress her home is revealing –,

Where streams whose carousing

Now lulls, now is rousing

The Muses’ best darling, the sentient bard,

With murmurings close to the heart –


Where cattle are lowing,

At woodland-sons’ fleet gallivanting,

And breathe hard at knowing

The plenty in which they are panting –

Where reapers are singing,

Midst golden stacks swinging,

And count out their treasure and let cries resound

To him who their hope now has crowned.


Where, skittishly playing,

Waves wash o’er the roamer, who quick-eyed

First finds his gaze straying

At Helsinge’s grey-shaded hillside

Then wond’ringly hastens

Through forests of masts and

Inspects, then makes out foreign flags straight away,

Forgetting the fast-waning day. –


Where balm of the lonely,

Sweet slumber so gently relieving,

Louise oft solely

Could help one forget the heart’s grieving –

Where joys offer home, a

Repose for the roamer,

Where Rungsted encloses delights pure and chaste:

There did the muse fill my breast.


Where pain and affliction,

With joy found your imprint, Oh High One,

The pure heart’s depiction

By every compassionate eye won –

Where friendship adds worth to

The strictest of virtues;

There did my song grow; and the forest in awe

Re-echoed the Great Maker’s law.


I saw your thrones gleam too,

Almighty! – my gaze all aquiver –

But tones divine passed through

The strings with each shiver –

Each leaf where I sighted

The High One ignited

My soul – and exulted at which my song swelled! –

The mighty sound could not be quelled! –


Oh all the Worlds’ Father! –

So sang I – You Strong One! – You Wise One!

God! Whom myriads are

Now praising as do heaven’s prized ones!

See, how dust can carry

Your plenty, your glory,

Your goodness, oh Father! – so sang I – and joy

My lips’ quaking sound did employ. –


O poet most blissful,

That gladness bade come to his dwelling;

To duties most cheerful,

To freedom, though virtues compelling! –

All cherubs while winging

His bold voice hear ringing,

And heavens are gathered around him; and joy

Unfolds in man’s breast, ne’er to cloy.


But you, you alone drew

From anguish such joy beyond measure

Say! – has my muse power to

Unfold in your heart greatest pleasure?

O sweet friend, recite me! –

Can song’s goddess lightly

With soft-melting notes the lap then reward

That me such delight did afford? –