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It treats of the old and ever new theme of unhappy love in its various shades, and this circumstance imparts to the poems a certain unity.
Prolog. Es war' mal, etc. The poetical vision contained in the Prolog originally appeared in the tragedy of,,Almansor," where it is sung by a harp-player. In 1822 it was published in a Musenalmanach under the heading of Das Lied vom blöden Ritter, but when embodying the prisches Intermezzo in the Buch der Lieder, Heine placed it under its present title at the beginning.
P. 41, No. 3. Bronne, poetical for "source." P. 42, No. 4. Stanza 2. So muß, etc. This line simply expresses the height of emotion felt by the poet on hearing the joyful assurance that he is loved. P. 44, No. 9. Auf Flügeln, etc. This celebrated poem, like several others in the present collection, is the outcome of Heine's enthusiasm for India, which is supposed to have been kindled by the description of that country by the celebrated Sanscrit scholar Franz Bopp. Heine felt a natural longing for the Indian dreamland, and the language of his Indian poems is throughout in harmony with that land of fairy tales.1 P., No. Stanza 2. The red-flowering lotus (Nelumbo) is the most beautiful of those water-lilies to which the Indians ascribe a mysterious and sacred character.
P. 45, No. 10. Die Lotosblume, etc. It is a fact that the lotus-flower shrinks from the glare of the sun, and droops in the day-time.
P. No. 11. Im Rhein, etc. A picture of the Virgin Mary (painted on wood) is in the Cologne Cathedral. ,,Die Figur der Madonna, says Hessel, ,,hat auf dem Dombild zum Hintergrund einen blumendurchwirkten, von Engeln gehaltenen Goldteppich.“
1,Heine sehnte sich nach Indien," says George Brandes,,,wie Goethe nach Italien; geistig war er an den Ufern des Ganges heimisch, wie Goethe an denen der Tiber."
Ein Wanderbursch, mit dem Stab in der Hand,
Der Bursche und schüttelt den Staub vom Fuß.
Ein Thränlein hängt ihm an der braunen Wang'.
‚Gott grüß' Euch!"—so spricht er und sonst nichts mehr.
Doch sich das Mütterchen schluchzet voll Lust:
,,Mein Sohn!"—und sinkt an des Burschen Brust. Wie sehr auch die Sonne sein Antlig verbrannt, Das Mutteraug' hat ihn doch gleich erkannt.
It is the honourable characteristic of Poetry that its materials are to be found in every subject which interests the human mind.' This weighty saying of Wordsworth found its practical application on a large scale in the ballad-literature of Germany during the third stage of its development. If the antiquarian notion that the old ballad alone has a claim to be considered as a ballad had been rigidly accepted, narrative poetry would have been confined to a very narrow compass. Fortunately the barrier was broken, first by the great luminaries of German poetry, Goethe and Schiller, and subsequently by Uhland and Heine, whose examples were considered maszgebend, and excited a lively emulation among their contemporaries and successors. This was the case to such a degree that every theme capable of being treated as a short narrative in verse, was considered as a legitimate topic for a ballad. There arose consequently such a great variety of ballads that during the Third Period of German ballad poetry they had lost entirely the stamp of uniformity, and there was in fact only one poet whose productions in this branch were 'epoch-making.' This poet was Ferdinand Freiligrath.
The great merit of Freiligrath's poems, both lyrical and narrative, consists in the novelty of his subjects, in the vigour of his language, in his many-coloured images, and in the picturesqueness of his details. His muse left the homely village-green, so to speak, and wandered forth into untrodden regions. His fancy carried him to the deserts of Syria and Africa, and the primeval forests of America, and his descriptions of people and scenery were quite in harmony with his exotic topics. Even his rhymes were not of the ordinary kind. They were new, like the subjects he