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Sibylla Schwarz
Sibylla Schwarz A Song Against Envy Departure from Greifswald Choir of the Muses The Sonnets: Is Love a Fire? Tho' Love is blind Now All is Gone 'Tis Chaste to Love? Gods fall Love should never An epithalamion Heaven indulge you Here my most

Poems by Sibylla Schwarz (1621-1638)

Translated into English
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A Song Against Envy

Gesang wider den Neid

Malevolence sticks out at me
A thousand, and a thousand tongues,
And though they try to silence me,
I'm not afraid to call out wrongs:
Whoever trusts in God's great might
Will conquer world and death and spite.

I hear around me, all around,
The captivating siren's song,
But pleasant poison, sweetest sound,
Won't conquer me, I will be strong,
I'll block my ears against her call,
And I'll float by, too free to fall.

If you don't like the way I write,
The noble power of my pen,
Then leave off reading, stop it quite,
You will not feel uneasy then.
What I have writ right from the start
No spurious friend will take to heart.

You prattle on to make me leave,
The tuneful lyre against my will,
But this shall never make me grieve:
A busy bee cannot stand still.
'Tis you should leave off calumny,
You only think you rattle me.

I know that you were born to whine,
You could not like the muses less:
My Phoebus never lost his shine
For all your ploys and artfulness.
And always virtue will shine on
When you and all are long since gone.

A currish beast that gave you birth,
A goddess born of fiercest hell
Then gave you suck from her breast's dearth.
Your father's Momus, I can tell:
Your home's a desert, fraught with risks,
The home of owls and basilisks.

Is it for your sake I should hate
Mount Helicon, the ever-green?
Should I then sink to your low state,
The wages would indeed be lean.
No, I'll stay on Parnassus' heights
You may prefer old Hades' slights.

What would my darling Phoebus say
Were I to tear the laurel wreath
Right off my head, to throw away
My crown into the dust beneath?
Euterpe would be much displeased
To find her maid's attendance ceased.

Thalia would be quite unkind,
And Clio doubtlessly irate
Were I to leave the lyre behind,
Because I favoured lies and hate.
Now cease to hurt my tender years
With your intrigues, your spite and fears,

And even though you think it's wrong
That members of the female sex
Should revel in great Pindar's song,
It's right that we our wings should flex.
When we approach him humbly, thus,
Great Phoebus will approve of us.

I am forbid now to proceed
Unless I prove what I aver,
The muses will I call, indeed,
Since maids they are, it's you who err.
Whoever lives, should virtue love,
No loving soul is spurned above.

All Holland will no doubt agree
To celebrate their flower's fame,
Ask Mr. Cats if you doubt me:
Through him I got to know her name.
Cleobulina will hold sway,
To her, pens have homage to pay.

Great Sappho was a woman, too,
As were so many I salute,
Read up on her and others, do:
I know full fifty-eight to boot
Whose names will never disappear,
Next to the stars they shine so clear.

Should I the needle hold as high
And higher still than my own verse?
One more sagacious far than I
Agrees that all, all will disperse,
Factitious yarn no one can wind
It breaks, and so you'll always find.

Take anything that e'er was made
By skillful hand, long to abide,
That people thought would never fade:
Traverse this globe, go far and wide,
You'll see, a thousand years it stood,
And then decayed, now gone for good.

What happened to Diana's fane?
Jupiter's image has long gone,
A long time, they were on the wane,
The crumbling walls of Babylon.
What long was everlasting thought
Is dust and ashes, dearly bought.

But Ovid's words, bequeathed in books,
And Aristotle's works survive,
Until today, where'er one looks,
Their words remain, they are alive,
They are alive albeit they're dead,
For evermore, they will be read.

With words, the wise have turned the tide:
Transmitted by those mighty pens,
Fame's trumpet spread them far and wide
Until today, they still make sense.
They will be praised by all as just,
Till all mankind must turn to dust.

If our terrestial globe were filled
With soot black liquid ink galore,
That would not blacken, if it spilled,
The words of those who came before,
Of those wise heads whose words took wing
And wisdom's path will ever sing.

My Opitz, to whom praise is due,
For he it was whose pen took on
To make the German lyre sing true
To our tongue's renown, and won,
Him all who cherish grace and art
Will now put first, and praise his heart.

His accolades are never done,
No envy clouds deservéd praise,
Around the globe now everyone
Is boasting of his skillful phrase.
I wish I could sing half as well,
My lyre had such tunes to tell.

So leave off, spite, your calumny,
Without your hate I know just when
To leave my songs to destiny,
I write this for the future, then.
Right into time myself I write
You shan't subdue me, hateful spite.

I'll trust in God, Him I adore,
Of Him my poetry shall sing
And then I'll never fear you more,
I still will flex my lyre's wing:
Whoever trusts in God's great might
Will conquer world and death and spite.

On Her Departure from Greifswald: A Song

Abschied aus Greifswald

Because that monster, war, will now
No longer suffer me to stay,
I leave you, Greifswald – but allow
My heart to cling despite the fray!

Where do you stray now, sense? Take leave,
Since Europe’s wars are everywhere
There’s nothing gained but brief reprieve:
Leave one to find a new one there.

Fretow's where I crave to be,
Where Phoebus with his daughters plays,
Fretow’s engraved, for all to see,
In time’s eternal book of days.

There I’d be glad and free from grief,
There would I read, and write, and rhyme,
There would I spent with unfeigned truth
In faith the rest of my life’s time.

But warfare now supremely reigns,
At Fretow, no one now dares pause,
No place is free from strife and pains
That you and I and they do cause.

I sing and wail this darkest hour,
The long, long night that’s passing by,
Since I have been denied my bower,
Thrown out of doors, and left to cry.

Of no use is my dirge, I know,
Hot tears will never bring relief
Will never lift this heavy yoke
Will never ease this lonely grief.

Since grieving only leads to pain,
Let rough winds blow, now let them blow,
Let all those die whom death must claim,
Who wants to see Death, let him go!

To human life a goal is set
That man can never override,
For death you need not call or fret,
He follows you on ev’ry side.

Whoever breathes is in pain,
Not one feels comfort now, unfree,
The very question we restrain:
Where may the way to Fretow be?

But now good night, o fatherland
I loved to see while you were mine,
I have to take Poseidon’s hand
And trust to Thetis’ salty brine.

My dear and honoured tribe, farewell,
My in-law brothers, sisters all,
Who will now walk, oh who can tell,
With you in Dannen’s woods in fall?

If ever you are well again,
And tears of joy return to you,
Think of your Lybis now and then,
And wonder what I’m doing, too.

Choir of the Muses

Chor der Musen

The fire got out of hand so fast
It swept all Helicon at last
Consumed that lovely hill entire
That some just wanted to admire.

We nine then left and went our way
Since no one there did help us stay
The flames, fetch water, anything
That grim blaze to an end to bring.

Was ever so much balefulness
Were ever gods in such distress
Did ever run in agony
The sisters‘ choir of three times three?

We had to run with ragtag crowd,
Rushed out the gate, all screamed aloud,
It’s seemlier perhaps to stay,
Yet maids, they shouted, run away!

Whatever was there left to say?
Thus put to flight, we ran away.
Since father Phoebus had gone out
His daughters all were put to rout.

We ran away half dressed that day
Euterpe’s gown was blown away
Thalia’s apron proved but fleet
Melpomene stood in bare feet

Erato’s hairband stayed behind
We barely could our own selves find
In all that sea, our skirts so wet,
We barely feel we made it yet.

We were not given enough time
To grab our lyres, think of rhyme,
Or plaintively sing a lament,
We had to leave, by pressure bent.

We left our violins behind,
A wreath to wear we did not find,
Green laurels in the dust we found,
Cast ignominously aground.

There never were times quite like these
We’re laughed at by our enemies.
Oh, oh, dear good old Helicon
The muses’ home, forever gone.

Poor us, now that we are cast out!
What has Apollo been about?
See, he wants to sink and hide
No more can he that woe abide.

Of trust itself we are bereft,
Towards Utopia it left,
In Nowhereland it has been seen,
Our in-laws’ rights are in-between.

Them spite will ridicule and mock
And turn into a laughing stock
But all such evils will pass by
While there’s a star up in the sky.

And yet, their Fretow shall persist
Destroyed by fire, it does exist:
What we have known is never doomed
Though it may burn, it’s not consumed.


Is Love a Fire?

Ist Lieb ein Feur?

Is love a fire, and can it iron bend?
Then I am fire-full, and full of pain.
To know my love's heart's cast is vain,
It is not iron: that my sighs would rend

It is not gold, for gold I know I'd blow
With my heart's blaze; were it a stone,
It were a stone of flesh and blood, alone
A simple stone could not betray me so.

Is it then made of frost and ice and snow?
How so, when I with love's sweat glow?

Her heart I think is made of laurel leaves
That cannot e'er by thunderbolts be torn
She, she, Cupid, laughs your bolts to scorn
She's free from thunderstorms and lovers' griefs.

Tho' love is blind

Die Lieb ist blind

Tho' love is blind, it certainly can see:
Fair sight it owns, to then starblind to prove,
Considered great, forever child to be,
It's quite agile, and yet it cannot move.

To understand, we have to think anew:
It's blind because its mind's in disarray
And since its heart's own eye does look askew
It cannot see that it has gone astray.

But what it loves seems ever blemish-free
Though more than flawed, that flaw it cannot see,

But what it loves escapes infirmity.
Bus as in truth a fault we'll always find,
I do conclude that love is standing blind:
Can't see itself, but yet gives sight to see.

Now all is gone

Mein Alles ist dahin

Now all is gone. My comfort both in joy and pain,
My other self is gone, my life, my grace, away,
My most beloved in this world, she would not stay.
(Love bitter is, but parting is the bitt'rest strain.)

I cannot be away from you, I cannot leave you be,
O dearest Dory, out of self, I am without a clue,
I am not who I am, now that I'm not with you.
O hours, run, run on, you cannot envy me?

Oy Phoebus, let those stallions go, let go,
And go, slow days, instead let moonshine glow!

A day is like a year, in which I cannot see
My sunshine self, now go, o idle, sluggish time,
Heave out! Full sails! return that love of mine.
When she is here, then, time, you may lazy be.

'Tis chaste to love?

Ist Lieben keusch?

'Tis chaste to love? Whence comes adultery?
If love is good, and nothing ill as such,
How come love's fires ignite so much?
If love is light, who added gravity?

Who loves to love sails on a sea of lust,
And lets himself be caught in deadly nets
That can't be ripped; on sin his heart he sets,
Loves vanity but virtue lacks and trust.

Eternity defies, who dies a knave,
Sees danger only when he sees his grave.

Then he who's found in love's most brutish heat
Had better fly, and hate her he adores:
If love is sweet, with bitterness he scores,
He'd better leave to th'dogs love's bitter meat.

Gods fall under love's sweet spell

Liebe schont der Götter nicht

Gods fall under love's sweet spell.
Love transcends the will of men,
Binds both heart and eye just when
Their clear light has served love well.

Even Phoebus' heart once fell
Suddenly in love, and then
Gone were ease and quiet den,
How that dart stung who can tell.

Jupiter has long been found,
Hercules himself is bound
By this bittersweetest pain.

How then should mere human hearts
Fight the pangs of piercing darts?
These to miss is hope in vain.

Love should never just stand by

Lieben ist nicht müßig stehen

Love should never just stand by.
Love must run all night all day,
Heart in love must crash away,
Toil and strive and all but die.

Love is never idleness.
It's alert – asleep, awake –
For beloved's favour's sake,
Winds blow by love's willingness.

Any strain to love is brief
But the pangs of lover's grief.

'Lover' is an arduous state
Cupid's is a fiery yoke:
Gentle breeze that fire stoke
Else too much would deflagrate.

An epithalamion on the bride's name (inverted):

Elisabeth von Stetten

What is it, virgin bride? What's up? I bet your heart
Is clamouring: Oh let us go to bed! You start,
But give in to your heart, and I have won my bet
Before your mouth says no, and so you fret,
But give in to your heart, and let your mouth say ‘tut',
Your eyes are very tired, and will quite soon stay shut.
Now give in to your heart! See, Hymen bids you wed,
He's lit the bridal torch and lights you to your bed.
Go, give in to your heart! We celebrate the wife,
And wish you both a happy, a long and fruitful life!
God bless you all good night! Sleep mends most lesions best,
Therefore abstain no more from pleasurable rest.
Love is the best tenant if you collect the rent,
In learning where and when, a happy life is spent.

Heaven indulge you, dear belovéd, in your lust

Der Himmel gönnet Euch, Ihr Lieben, Eure Lust

Heaven indulge you, dear belovéd, in your lust,
Why should not you and we appear all happiness
We share your sense of bliss, and Venus, too, will bless
You with her joys (unknown as yet to me), we trust.

The sun is shining bright, the sheep are frolicsome,
We can't do more than wish you well wholeheartedly,
Your heart's desire may you enjoy, a life painfree,
And when you live in bliss, do think of me again,

Of Faunus think, o virgin bride, how he may be,
Who's sadly glad, and as it were, laughs tearfully,

Think of your friend, his pain, with baited breath,
Who would have hoped, who could have said, have known,
That one true mind would be rewarded but with pain
Now fare you well, and now and then think of my death.

Here my most ardent longing now I face

Hier hab ich nun mein sehnliches Verlangen

Here my most ardent longing now I face:
Here lies my love, my other self I see,
Here happiness is captured just for me,
Here could I many times my love embrace,

Here could I kiss his cheeks, right in this place,
Cupid has heard my inner moan at last
And now he wants to be of help, and fast,
Now I can sport my happiness apace,

Now Venus shows me a good aim up front
Only I don’t want what in fact I want

Oh stupid bashfulness, now leave me quite!
As long as you are here my pain won’t go,
Who wants to love should never be that slow:
To gain love’s pay, be forward in love’s sight.