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57. Scepter is generally used as a neuter in accordance with the gender it bears in Greek and Latin (σкŵπτроv, sceptrum), but we find it also as a masc.: der Scepter. Comp. e.g. the following passage in JungStilling's Life (p. 470, ed. Reclam): Alle diese Verklärten führen dich dann vor den Thron des Allerbarmers, er neigt den Scepter aller Welten gegen deine Stirne. And it may be observed that foreign words are apt to change their gender in German, e.g. das Labyrinth=¿ λaßúpiv0os, der Punct=punctum, der Altar=altare (n.), der Pact=pactum, etc., or French la rencontre as compared with Germ. das Rencontre.
60. gnügt instead of genügt.
61. Twice before the Emperor Louis had been compelled to abdicate by his rebellious sons.
67. den Kampf bestehen, 'to pass honourably through a struggle.' 72. Comp. v. 47.
After the decease of the last Carlovingian (911), Conrad of Franconia was elected king of Germany. He reigned until 918. On his deathbed he is said to have directed the vassals to carry the crown to his most powerful adversary, Henry, Duke of Saxony, surnamed der Finkler or Vogler, 'the Fowler.' The (legendary) reason of this surname is related in the present poem: Henry, being very fond of the sport of netting birds, is said to have been engaged in it when messengers came to apprise him of his having been elected king. Carlyle calls him 'the grand old Henry' in his Frederick the Great, b. II. ch. 1.
2. wohlgemuth: see n. on 5, 199.
3. Perlen denotes the pearly dew-drops.
8. The song of the nightingale is usually connected with the evening, although it does sing during the day.
11. Was gilt's? literally, 'what is it worth?' Hence, 'what do you give for it?' Used in betting, 'what are the odds?' here as an exclamation.-'nen = einen.
12. lugen, 'to spy,' akin to E. look.-Himmelszelt is a poetical term denoting the sky' as a tent stretched above the earth; comp. v. 34.
15 sq. The construction is was für eine Reiterschaar sprengt dènn dort herauf ? denn is expressive of surprise and, to some extent, of indignation.
19. Daß Gott, an elliptic phrase, to be completed by such words as es ihnen vergelte.
21. der Troß: see n. on 2, 4.
26. The complete construction is (Wir suchen) unsern Herrn.
32. In prose: Es ist des deutschen Reiches Wille.
36. wie Dir's gefällt, (be it) as thou pleasest.
Henry I. reigned from 919-936. He was a wise and energetic prince, who founded many towns and obtained a splendid victory over the wild Hungarian hordes at Merseburg, 933. Henry's son, Otho I. or the Great (936-973), surpassed even his father in energy and power. He endeavoured to break the power of the vassal dukes whose influence had become too great for their sovereign. Eberhard, the duke of Franconia, felt offended by a fine imposed on him, and contrived to seduce Otho's brothers, Thankmar and Henry, to rebel against the king. Thankmar was killed in this rebellion, and Henry was forced to submit in 939; but the pardon granted to him by the generous Otho could not render him faithful to his brother. He conspired again with the Archbishop of Mayence and some dissatisfied nobles to stab the king at Quedlinburg, about Easter, 940. The conspiracy was, however, discovered, and the Archbishop and Henry were imprisoned. Then it was that repentance awoke in the heart of the misguided youth; he escaped from the prison, which he could not endure, and in penitential garb he threw himself at his brother's feet in the Cathedral Church at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, and obtained pardon and reconciliation, for which he prayed fervently. The concord and agreement of the brothers remained undisturbed ever after. It will be seen that there is a slight inaccuracy in the present ballad, in which the scene of the reconciliation is laid at Quedlinburg, instead of Frankfort. There is another error in the title given to Otho. Previous to the year 962, in which he was crowned Roman Emperor, Otho bore no other title but that of King, König.
3. Macht is used here in the sense of military force; translate 'with the puissant array of his knights.'
The common form is Weihnacht. Comp. v. 48. 6. Comp. 4, 31.
10. In prose we should more commonly say, er hat die Feinde (acc.) abgewehrt.
13. For the plural Lande see our note on Goethe's Hermann and
Dorothea, I, 204.
14. This phrase is very common with the negation: das will mir nicht in den Sinn, I cannot get myself to believe this.
16. was weshalb, warum.
18. The Roman Catholic Church considers the consecration of the host as a renewed sacrifice of the Lord.-die Messe, the mass, Lat. missa, said to be derived from the old form of dismissing the congregation, 'Ite, missa est' (sc. congregatio). Messe also means 'a fair.' 20. brünstig, see n. on 6, 40.
Das Hemde is the old form, while in modern German das Hemd is more usual.
24. ihm is dativus ethicus; in English this should be translated as if it were seine Kniee.
25. der Fehl is poetical instead of der Fehler, though always with a more emphatic meaning, = Verbrechen or Vergehen. This word is repeatedly used by Luther in his translation of the Bible. Comp. St Matth. vi. 15: so ihr den Menschen ihre Fehle nicht vergebet, so wird euch euer Vater eure Fehle auch nicht vergeben.
26. The construction is, hier liege ich dir zu Füßen.-In prose we should either say um Lerzeihung flehen or Verzeihung erflehen.
30. Otho had pardoned his brother, granting him his life after the conspiracy, and merely sentencing him to imprisonment, By his escape from prison Henry had forfeited his life and pardon.
35. The expression is proverbial. To denote absolute stillness we also say man hätte eine Nadel zu Boden fallen hören können, 'you might have heard a pin drop to the ground.'—Laub=leaf, commonly Blatt. In modern German Laub is commonly used as a collective.
41 sqq. The passage referred to in the following verses runs as follows in Luther's translation:-Da trat Petrus zu ihm und sprach: Herr, wie oft muß ich denn meinem Bruder, der an mir sündiget, vergeben? Ist es genug siebenmal? Jesus sprach zu ihm: Ich sage dir, nicht siebenmal, sondern fiebenzigmal siebenmal. St Matth. xviii. 21 and 22.
45. The tears are called unbewußt, 'unconscious,' as they start into the Emperor's eye without his knowing it.
Otho the Great was succeeded by his son Otho II. who reigned until 983. His wife was a Greek princess, Theophano, by whom he had a son, Otho III., a highly talented youth, but unfortunately destitute of resolution and energy. Otho III., whose whole mind was bent upon the revival of the splendour of the imperial titles, reigned until 1002, and sank into an early grave, worn out with the struggles and toils of his reign. In the year 999, he had ordered the tomb of Charlemagne at Aachen to be opened, and had descended into it in order to revive his flagging enthusiasm by the sight of the dead Emperor, whose majestic appearance is said to have produced an overwhelming impression on the mind of the phantastic youth.
3. Otho III. died in the castle of Paterno, near mount Soracte, not far from Rome. He had not yet completed his twenty-second year. 7. Lenz (comp. lent) is poetical instead of Frühling; comp. our note on Schiller's Maid of Orleans, Prol. 2, 14.
15. Rome is built upon seven hills.
16. In Danish and Swedish hav (haf) means the sea in general, but in the north of Germany this name has been restricted to three large bays of the Baltic-or rather three lakes close to the Baltic; though connected with the sea by a channel, they contain sweet water and are separated from the ocean by a long narrow strip of sandhills (Nehrung): 1. das Kurische Haff at the mouth of the Niemen; 2. das frische Haff at the mouth of the Nogat, an arm of the Vistula; 3. das Pommersche or Stettiner Haff at the mouth of the Oder: all three on the coast of Prussia.
17. Das Seelenreich = Tortenreich, 9, 34.
Harren is construed with the genitive, after the analogy of
Crescentius, a Roman patrician, had broken his faith to Otho III., expelled Gregory V. whom Otho had placed on the papal see, and put John (who had formerly been Otho's tutor in Greek) in his place. When Otho took Rome in 998, John was terribly mutilated and blinded by the exasperated German warriors, while Crescentius was beheaded in the Castel San Angelo, in which he had defended himself. Gregory died in the year after these atrocities, 999, and his death was ascribed by the people to divine vengeance for his cruelty towards the unfortunate John.
27. Otho II. died when his son was about three years old.
30. The strong formation of the imperf. of fragen is less usual in modern German than the weak. In the works of the classical writers, frag occurs in not a few passages.
31. The poet himself has the note: Otto II. liegt bekanntlich in der Peterskirche begraben.
33. Comp. the expression Volksberather, 4, 4.
35. Aeltervater=Urgroßvater, Henry I.
39. Mathilde was the queen of Henry I.
44. The logical order of words would be schon als Kind.
46. Atóm=aтoμov, the small particles out of which, according to some philosophers, the world is composed.
47. eine nichtige Sache, res nihili.
52. Der kaiserliche Staub means the dead body of the young Emperor. 58. Das Panier is derived from the Fr. la bannière, which has also passed into the German language in the shape of das Bánner.
60. Kaiserzier kaiserliche Pracht, imperial splendour.
64. barg, instead of verbarg, in the sense of verhüllte or bedeckte.
66 sq. Otho's dead body was escorted across the Alps by his faithful Germans through the opposing hosts of the hostile Italians; then deposited in its final resting place at Aachen.
71. thatenlos, 'void of deeds'; thatenreich, 'rich in deeds' (comp. 1 Tim. vi. 18).
"The Church of Rome has raised Henry II. to a place among her Saints, and legendary tales describe this king as a monk in purple, a crowned penitent, scarcely able to drag along his weary flesh. But History shows a different portrait of King Henry. It attests that he was one of the most active and energetic rulers that ever sat on the German throne; it teaches us to recognise his acute mind and a great talent for organisation, such as was rarely seen in those days." Giesebrecht, History of the German Emperors, II. 95 sq. The same writer relates the subject of the present poem in the following manner :— "In 1008 there appeared a strange vision to the king, as the legend goes. He fancied that he was in the monastery of St Emmeran at Regensburg, praying at the tomb of his former teacher, Wolfgang; this one-he thought-came up to him and pointed to some writing on the wall close by. There the king saw the mysterious words, 'After six.' He thought that he was destined to die after six days, and therefore devoted himself entirely to works of charity and piety. The six