Die Schlacht
The Battle


Heavy, louring,
A thunder cloud,
The line of march comes roiling
Across the green plain.
The open land stretches further than sight
To the savage, iron-cast game of dice.
Men’s gaze slinks to earth,
Men’s hearts beat against their ribs.
Passing hollowed out, dead faces
The Major gallops down to the front:
And regiments are curbed by the stark command;

The front line stands in silence.

Magnificent in the glow of dawn,
What is that flashing from the hills?
D’you see the fluttering enemy flags?
We see the fluttering enemy flags!
God be with you, wives and children!
Rejoice! Do you hear the song?
The drum rolls, the sound of pipes
Enters into our limbs;
How it surges with a glorious savage beat!
Surges through bone to the marrow.

God be with you, Brothers!
We’ll meet again in a different world!

Now, it all takes off - like sheet-lightning,
There, and already the rumbling roar of thunder,
Here, the blink of an eye and a loud crack,
The battle-cry roaring from corps to corps -
Roar away - in God’s name,
Already, in our breast, we can breathe more freely.

Death sets to – already the fight is in spate,
Iron resolve in the cloud of powder-smoke,
The fall of the dice cast in iron.

Close now, the men embrace,
Ready! the cry goes from platoon to platoon;
On their knees,
Those up ahead fire, many do not rise again,
Gaps are rent by the strafe of bullets,
The men behind scramble onto the backs of those in front,
Devastation right and left and again and again
Battallions are crushed by death.

The sun goes out – the slaughter burns red hot,
Black, the night lies over the army.
May God help you, Brothers!
We’ll meet again in a different world.

We’re up to our necks in spurting blood,
The living replace the dead, feet
Stumble over corpses –
‘So, you too, Franz?’ – ‘My friend, give my love to my dear Lotte!’
The conflict rages ever more intensely,
‘I’ll give ...’ – in heaven’s name, comrades, see
There behind us, that shell exploding!
‘I’ll give your love to your Lotte, dear friend!
Sleep in peace. I, alone now, will plunge
Into the field where the rain of bullets is being sown.’

The battle pitches this way and that,
Even more darkly the night is lying over the army.
Go with God, Brothers!
We’ll meet again in a different world!

But listen, what is that galloping past?
The Adjutants are flying,
The Dragoons are rattling into the enemy.
And its thunder has stopped.
Victory, Brothers!
Fear is tugging at their cowardly limbs.
And their flag droops –

The bitter battle has been concluded,
Daylight peers victoriously through the night!
Listen! Drum rolls, the sound of pipes!
Already voicing the song of triumph!
Farewell, you Brothers who have stayed!
We’ll meet again in a different world.