Then follows Dietrich’s only poetic attempt, which Basnage calls a ‘carmen ineptum, foolish ballad,’ and most unfairly, as all readers should say, if I had any hope of doing justice in a translation to this genial fragment of an old dramatic ballad, and its simple objectivity, as of a writer so impressed (like all true Teutonic poets in those earnest days) with the pathos and greatness of his subject that he never tries to ‘improve’ it by reflections and preaching at his readers, but thinks it enough just to tell his story, sure that it will speak for itself to all hearts:—
Quibus valefaciens cum moerore
Commisit suis fratribus natos cum uxore:
Matremque deosculatos filiali more,
Vix eam alloquitur cordis prae dolore,
Illis mota viscera, corda tremuerunt,
Dum alter in alterius colla irruerunt,
Expetentes oscula, quae vix receperunt
Propter multitudines, quae eos compresserunt.
Mater tenens filiuin, uxorque maritum,
In diversa pertrahunt, et tenent invitum,
Fratres cum militibus velut compeditum
Stringunt, nec discedere sinunt expeditum.
Erat in exercitu maximus tumultus,
Cum carorum cernerent alternari vultus.
Flebant omnes pariter, senex et adultus,
Turbae cum militibus, cultus et incultus.
Eja! Quis non plangeret, cum videret flentes
Tot honestos nobiles, tam diversas gentes,
Cum Thuringis Saxones illuc venientes,
Ut viderent socios suos abscedentes.
Amico luctamine cuncti certavere,
Quis eum diutius posset retinere;
uidam collo brachiis, quidam inhaesere
Vestibus, nec poterat cuiguam respondere,
Tandem se de manibus eximens suorum
Magnatorum socius et peregrinorum,
Admixtus tandem, caetui cruce signatorum
Non visurus amplius terram. Thuringorum!
Surely there is a heart of flesh in the old monk which, when warmed by a really healthy subject, can toss aside Scripture parodies and professional Stoic sentiment, and describe with such life and pathos, like any eye-witness, a scene which occurred, in fact, two years before his birth.
’And thus this Prince of Peace, ’he continues, ’mounting his horse with many knights, etc. . . . about the end of the month of June, set forth in the name of the Lord, praising him in heart and voice, and weeping and singing were heard side by side. And close by followed, with saddest heart, that most faithful lady after her sweetest prince, her most loving spouse, never, alas! to behold him more. And when she was going to return, the force of love and the agony of separation forced her on with him one day’s journey: and yet that did not suffice. She went on, still unable to bear the parting, another full day’s journey. . . . At last they part, at the exhortations of Rudolph the Cupbearer. What groans, think you, what sobs, what struggles, and yearnings of the heart must there have been? Yet they part, and go on their way. . . . The lord went forth exulting, as a giant to run his course; the lady returned lamenting, as a widow, and tears were on her cheeks. Then putting off the garments of joy, she took the dress of widowhood. The mistress of nations, sitting alone, she turned herself utterly to God—to her former good works, adding better ones.’