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The Heinrich Heine Prophecy January 20, 2013

Posted by cantueso in history, WWII.
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“German thunder is of course slow. Yet it is bound to come, and one day you will hear it crash unlike anything that has ever crashed in the history of this world. When that happens

“… … the eagles in the skies will fall down dead, and the lions in remotest Africa will be terrified and hide in their royal caverns. A drama will be staged in Germany such as will make the French Revolution look like an episode of romantic charm.”

Here is a more complete quote in German with a translation into English:

heine prophet

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Notice “the royal caverns” where the lions hide? That is typical Heine, the often soothing and careful irony even on images of death or war.

This was in 1834.  His prose is a tumble mix and not elegant, and the lyrics he wrote when he was dying in his “mattress grave” are not readily available in translation.They are part of the greatest lyrics of the German language. — .

The prophecy is in “On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany” free at Project Gutenberg:
http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/heine/religion/religion.htm : Zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland.

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Goethe more or less ignored Heine. Heine tried in vain to to get some response from Goethe, begged to be allowed to come and see him. Goethe did not even answer. Heine was young and a fugitive; Goethe was old and world famous.

Now, Goethe is still considered Germany’s Nr 1 poet, but no longer widely read. Heine is read even by kids.

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Below is Heine’s poem on the death of Salomon with my prose translation. In its solemnity it is not a typical Heine. His greatest poetry is much more spontaneous and story-telling, more like a Dylan ballad or a rapper’s uneven text, impossible to translate without loss of both charm and depth.

The drawing is by Raphael Wuensch.

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