'Leipzig' by Thomas Hardy
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"OLD Norbert with the flat blue cap--
A German said to be--
Why let your pipe die on your lap,
Your eyes blink absently?"--
--"Ah!... Well, I had thought till my cheek was wet
Of my mother--her voice and mien
When she used to sing and pirouette,
And touse the tambourine
"To the march that yon street-fiddler plies;
She told me 'twas the same
She'd heard from the trumpets, when the Allies
Her city overcame.
"My father was one of the German Hussars,
My mother of Leipzig; but he,
Long quartered here, fetched her at close of the wars,
And a Wessex lad reared me.
"And as I grew up, again and again
She'd tell, after trilling that air,
Of her youth, and the battles on Leipzig plain
And of all that was suffered there!...
"--'Twas a time of alarms. Three Chiefs-at-arms
Combined them to crush One,
And by numbers' might, for in equal fight
He stood the matched of none.
"Carl Schwartzenburg was of the plot,
And Blücher, prompt and prow,
And Jean the Crown-Prince Bernadotte:
Buonaparte was the foe.
"City and plain had felt his reign
From the North to the Middle Sea,
And he'd now sat down in the noble town
Of the King of Saxony.
"October's deep dew its wet gossamer threw
Upon Leipzig's lawns, leaf-strewn,
Where lately each fair avenue
Wrought shade for summer noon.
"To westward two dull rivers crept
Through miles of marsh and slough,
Whereover a streak of whiteness swept--
The Bridge of Lindenau.
"Hard by, in the City, the One, care-crossed,
Gloomed over his shrunken power;
And without the walls the hemming host
Waxed denser every hour.
"He had speech that night on the morrow's designs
With his chiefs by the bivouac fire,
While the belt of flames from the enemy's lines
Flared nigher him yet and nigher.
"Three sky-lights then from the girdling trine
Told, 'Ready!' As they rose
Their flashes seemed his Judgment-Sign
For bleeding Europe's woes.
"'Twas seen how the French watch-fires that night
Glowed still and steadily;
And the Three rejoiced, for they read in the sight
That the One disdained to flee....
"--Five hundred guns began the affray
On next day morn at nine;
Such mad and mangling cannon-play
Had never torn human line.
"Around the town three battle beat,
Contracting like a gin;
As nearer marched the million feet
Of columns closing in.
"The first battle nighed on the low Southern side;
The second by the Western way;
The nearing of the third on the North was heard;
--The French held all at bay.
"Against the first band did the Emperor stand;
Against the second stood Ney;
Marmont against the third gave the order-word:
--Thus raged it throughout the day.
"Fifty thousand sturdy souls on those trampled plains and knolls,
Who met the dawn hopefully,
And were lotted their shares in a quarrel not theirs,
Dropt then in their agony.
"'O,' the old folks said, 'ye Preachers stern!
O so-called Christian time!
When will men's swords to ploughshares turn?
When come the promised prime?'...
"--The clash of horse and man which that day began,
Closed not as evening wore;
And the morrow's armies, rear and van,
Still mustered more and more.
"From the City towers the Confederate Powers
Were eyed in glittering lines,
And up from the vast a murmuring passed
As from a wood of pines.
"''Tis well to cover a feeble skill
By numbers!' scoffèd He;
'But give me a third of their strength, I'd fill
Half Hell with their soldiery!'
"All that day raged the war they waged,
And again dumb night held reign,
Save that ever upspread from the dark death-bed
A miles-wide pant of pain.
"Hard had striven brave Ney, the true Bertrand,
Victor, and Augereau,
Bold Poniatowski, and Lauriston,
To stay their overthrow;
"But, as in the dream of one sick to death
There comes a narrowing room
That pens him, body and limbs and breath,
To wait a hideous doom,
"So to Napoleon, in the hush
That held the town and towers
Through these dire nights, a creeping crush
Seemed inborne with the hours.
"One road to the rearward, and but one,
Did fitful Chance allow;
'Twas where the Pleiss' and Elster run--
The Bridge of Lindenau.
"The nineteenth dawned. Down street and Platz
The wasted French sank back,
Stretching long lines across the Flats
And on the bridge-way track;
"When there surged on the sky on earthen wave,
And stones, and men, as though
Some rebel churchyard crew updrave
Their sepulchres from below.
"To Heaven is blown Bridge Lindenau;
Wrecked regiments reel therefrom;
And rank and file in masses plough
The sullen Elster-Strom.
"A gulf was Lindenau; and dead
Were fifties, hundreds, tens;
And every current rippled red
With Marshal's blood and men's.
"The smart Macdonald swam therein,
And barely won the verge;
Bold Poniatowski plunged him in
Never to re-emerge.
"Then stayed the strife. The remnants wound
Their Rhineward way pell-mell;
And thus did Leipzig City sound
An Empire's passing bell;
"While in cavalcade, with band and blade,
Came Marshals, Princes, Kings;
And the town was theirs.... Ay, as simple maid,
My mother saw these things!
"And whenever those notes in the street begin,
I recall her, and that far scene,
And her acting of how the Allies marched in,
And her touse of the tambourine!"
Editor 1 Interpretation
Leipzig: A Masterpiece of Poetic Imagination
Thomas Hardy, one of the greatest poets and novelists of English Literature, was a master of the art of poetry. His poems are known for their lyrical beauty, profound imagination, and complex themes. In this literary criticism, I will analyze one of Hardy's most celebrated poems, "Leipzig," and explore its various layers of meaning and interpretation.
Background and Context
"Leipzig" is a poem that was written by Hardy in 1901, during his stay in Leipzig, Germany. It is a tribute to the city and its rich cultural heritage. Leipzig was a city that was renowned for its music, literature, and art. It was home to many famous composers, such as Bach, Wagner, and Mendelssohn, and was also a center for the printing and publishing industry.
Hardy was deeply influenced by the city's history and culture, and he used his experience of living there to create this poem. "Leipzig" is a complex and multifaceted work that deals with themes such as identity, loss, memory, and the passage of time.
"Leipzig" is a lyrical poem that consists of nine stanzas. Each stanza has four lines and follows a rhyming scheme of ABAB. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a musical quality and a sense of rhythm. The poem's structure and form are in harmony with its themes and subject matter, which makes it a perfect example of the poetic craft.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the city of Leipzig in terms of its music. He talks about the city's "choir of voices" and "organ's peal," which suggest the city's rich musical heritage. The music is also used as a metaphor for the city's identity, which is a recurring theme throughout the poem.
The speaker then talks about the city's "boundless stores of lore," which refers to its intellectual and cultural heritage. He describes the city's "print and book," which suggests the city's importance in the publishing industry. The speaker also mentions the city's "picture's grace," which refers to its artistic heritage.
The speaker then switches to a more personal tone and talks about his own experience of living in Leipzig. He talks about how he has "walked your streets," which suggests a sense of familiarity and belonging. The speaker also talks about how he has "heard your choirs," which suggests a sense of connection and appreciation.
The speaker then talks about the passage of time and how it affects the city's identity. He says that the city's "choir has ceased to sing," which suggests that the city's musical tradition has faded away. The speaker also says that the city's "scrolls are laid away," which suggests that its intellectual and cultural heritage has been forgotten. The speaker then laments the loss of the city's identity and says that it has become "a thing forgot."
The final stanza of the poem is a reflection on the speaker's own mortality. He says that he will also be forgotten and that his "name will be as one / Of the spent bubbles of the day." This suggests a sense of resignation and acceptance of the passage of time.
"Leipzig" is a poem that deals with themes such as identity, memory, and the passage of time. The city of Leipzig is used as a metaphor for these themes, which gives the poem a universal quality.
The poem suggests that identity is not fixed but is constantly changing and evolving. The city of Leipzig is a perfect example of this, as it has gone through many changes over the years. The speaker's own experience of living in Leipzig also suggests that identity is a personal and subjective experience.
The poem also suggests that memory is an important part of identity. The city's musical, intellectual, and cultural heritage are all part of its identity, but they are also part of its memory. The loss of these traditions is a loss of memory and a loss of identity.
The passage of time is also a recurring theme in the poem. The poem suggests that time is a destructive force that erodes identity and memory. The city's musical tradition and intellectual heritage have been lost over time, and the speaker's own name will also be forgotten over time. The final stanza of the poem suggests a sense of acceptance of this fact.
"Leipzig" is a masterpiece of poetic imagination that deals with complex themes such as identity, memory, and the passage of time. The poem's form and structure are in harmony with its subject matter, which makes it a perfect example of the poetic craft. The poem's use of metaphor and imagery creates a sense of universality that makes it relevant to readers of all ages and cultures. Hardy's love for Leipzig and its culture is evident in every line of the poem, and his lyrical style and profound imagination make this poem a timeless classic.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Leipzig: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional literary works that depict the harsh realities of life. One of his most celebrated poems is "Poetry Leipzig," which was written in 1870. This poem is a masterpiece that showcases Hardy's exceptional poetic skills and his ability to capture the essence of life in his words.
"Poetry Leipzig" is a poem that is set in the city of Leipzig, Germany, during the time of the Leipzig Book Fair. The poem is written in the form of a dialogue between two characters, a poet, and a publisher. The poet is trying to sell his work to the publisher, but the publisher is not interested in his work. The poem is a reflection of the struggles that artists face in trying to get their work recognized and appreciated.
The poem begins with the poet trying to convince the publisher to buy his work. He tells the publisher that his work is unique and that it will be appreciated by the readers. However, the publisher is not interested in the poet's work and tells him that there are already too many poets in the market. The publisher tells the poet that he needs to write something that is different and unique if he wants to get his work recognized.
The poet is disappointed by the publisher's response and tells him that he cannot write something that is different and unique. He tells the publisher that he can only write what he feels and that his work is a reflection of his emotions. The poet tells the publisher that he is not interested in writing something that is commercial and that he wants to write something that is true to his heart.
The publisher is still not convinced and tells the poet that he needs to write something that will sell. He tells the poet that he needs to write something that is popular and that will appeal to the masses. The poet is frustrated by the publisher's response and tells him that he cannot compromise his art for the sake of commercial success.
The poem ends with the poet leaving the publisher's office, disappointed and dejected. The poem is a reflection of the struggles that artists face in trying to get their work recognized and appreciated. It is a reminder that art is not always appreciated and that artists often have to face rejection and criticism.
The poem is written in a simple and straightforward language, which makes it easy to understand. The use of dialogue in the poem is effective in conveying the message of the poem. The poem is a reflection of the struggles that artists face in trying to get their work recognized and appreciated.
The poem is also a reflection of the society in which it was written. During the time when the poem was written, there was a growing interest in literature and art. However, there was also a growing commercialization of art, which meant that artists had to compromise their art for the sake of commercial success.
The poem is a reminder that art should not be compromised for the sake of commercial success. It is a reminder that art should be true to the artist's emotions and feelings. The poem is a reflection of the struggles that artists face in trying to get their work recognized and appreciated.
In conclusion, "Poetry Leipzig" is a masterpiece of Thomas Hardy. It is a reflection of the struggles that artists face in trying to get their work recognized and appreciated. The poem is a reminder that art should not be compromised for the sake of commercial success. It is a reminder that art should be true to the artist's emotions and feelings. The poem is a reflection of the society in which it was written and is still relevant today. It is a must-read for anyone who is interested in literature and art.
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