Supplementary Appendix 279.4

Anonymous Dedicatory Poem to Schelling [*]

Dedication to Schelling

Perpetually must a nation climb upward, higher,
It cannot return to childhood:
Poetry's first, youthful dance
Has long passed by, long flown swiftly by:
Sophists came, poetry began to fall silent,
Gradually loosening the golden ties;
But your striving subdued those sober ones,
And thus do you inflame new life.

What German strength achieved in this age,
Belongs to you, and inclines to your image,
And yours above all be this light song,
Which you received with noble gentleness,
Assembling round about its earliest confession,
Of women and men a beauteous guild:
Be it that the people now repays it with fame,
You let it live for the first time!

Now may songs assemble one after th' other into a song,
Story upon story, legend upon legend,
All yearn to devote themselves to you,
Which I yet concealed in my soul do bear,
To you, who listened, with kind forbearance,
The earliest tones of my own youngest days,
When I yet sang of pride's courageous drives,
And that most burning one: for fame and love.

Yet ne'er did the heart feel quite at home
In this life's earthly paradises,
The love that it, overcome with love,
Offered up to people, did but elicit laughter,
And early I felt, in lonely hours,
Abandoned to my own dark self,
And early began an unspeakable yearning
My breast to expand through sighs.

But that is over! I learned to bear much pain,
I feel the strength to renounce all,
And to bear in my lightly agile heart
A world of serenity and jest;
Rarely will the profound torment in my heart
Pour itself out into such enormous lament,
And may every listener then feel with quaking
What a sad present is this life!

Thus was I hardened and prepared
For deeds that I no longer could postpone;
My courage, gradually fatigued through torment,
Will for soft love never beg.
Perhaps, when hour couples with hour,
My ardent activity may succeed such
That one day, when the German word I master,
I may inspire the whole youth of this people.


[*] Caroline makes the following remarks in her letter to Schelling on 2 January 1800 (letter 279):

You do indeed quite squarely play to my weakness by sending me the announcement of your greatness; I am horrifically eager to read about it, and this particular example seems to be expressed quite elegantly and to be composed with considerable understanding. Do you know who wrote it?

Waldemar von Olshausen, “Neues aus dem Caroline-Kreis,” Euphorion 28 (1927), 350–62, here 354–56, tentatively identifies this “example” with the following poem and — equally tentatively — attributes the poem to Stefan August Winkelmann (see also Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 18 November 1800 [originally letter 271, dated to October 1800; now letter 274d, redated to 18 November 1800]):

Our question here is whether at some time or other Winckelmann gave poetic expression to his confession to Schelling. Perhaps earlier or perhaps now, after Schelling’s new, victorious appearance in Jena [in October 1800]? That something of this sort did indeed happen during the course of the winter [1800–1801] we learn from a remark Caroline makes in her letter to Schelling (no. 279) in early January 1801 . . .

Although we do not have Schelling’s response, and although even Erich Schmidt’s comprehensive knowledge was unable to provide an explanation of what she means here, a decorative page with thin pink bordering from our literary estate may perhaps enlighten the situation — perhaps! For Caroline’s question whether Schelling knows the author is, of course, striking enough if she genuinely did have these verses before her that bear the title “Zueignung an Schelling” (“Dedication to Schelling”) and that apparently represent the early attempts of a young poet. It seems obvious enough that Schelling had to know the author, who does, after all, thank Schelling for having provided support and encouragement.

Be that as it may, however, because the dedicatory poem of this unknown poet is not without at least some biographical significance, I will communicate it here. As far as its dating is concerned, one must consider that after Caroline’s death, Schelling’s family ties to the descendants of Johann David Michaelis came to an end. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott