Hans Breitmann
by Charles G. Leland. 1889

Breitman's Going to Church

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"Vides igitur, Collega carissime, visitationem canonicam esse rem haud ita periculosam, sed valde amoenam, si modo vinum, groggio et cibi praesto sunt."
- Novissimae Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, Berolini F. Berggold, 1869. Epistola xxiii., p. 63.

D'VAS near de state of Nashfille,
In de town of Tennessee,
Der Breitmann vonce vas quarderd
Mit all his cavallrie.
Der Sheneral kept him glose in gamp,
He vouldn't let dem go;
Dey couldn't shdeal de first plack hen,
Or make de red cock crow.

Und virst der Breitmann vildly shmiled,
Und denn he madly shvore;
"Crate h--l, mit shpoons und shinsherbread,
Can dis pe makin war?
Verdammt pe all der discipline!
Verdammt der Shenerál!
Vere I vonce on de road, his will,
Vere wurst mir und egâl. [19]

"Oh vhere ish all de plazin roofs
Dat claddened vonce mine eyes?
Und vhere de crand plantaschions
Vhere ve gaddered many a brize?
Und vhere de plasted shpies ve hung
A howlin loud mit fear?
Und vhere de rascal push-whackers
Ve shashed like vritened deer?

"De roofs are shtandin fast and firm
Mit repels blottin oonder;
De crand blantaschions lie round loose
For Morgan's men to ploonder!
De shpies go valkin out und in,
Ash sassy ash can pe;
Und in de voods de push-whackers
Are makin foon of me!

"Oh vere I on my schimmel grey
Mein sabre in mein hand,
Dey should drack me py de ruins
Of de houses troo de land.
Dey should drack me py de puzzards
High sailen ofer head,
A vollowin der Breitmann's trail
To claw de repel dead."

Outspoke der bold Von Stossenheim,
Who had théories of Gott:
"O Breitmann, dis ish shoodgement on
De vays dat you hafe trot.
You only lifes to joy yourself,
Yet you, yourself moost say,
Dat self-defelopment requires
De réligiös Idée."

Dey sat dem down and argued id,
Like Deutschers vree from fear,
Dill dey schmoke ten pounds of knaster,
Und drinked drei fass of bier.
Der Breitmann go py Schopenhauer,
Boot Veit he had him denn;
For he dook him on de angles
Of de moral oxygen.

Der Breitmann 'low, dat 'pentence,
Ish known in efery glime,
Und dat to grin und bear it
Vas healty und soopline.
"For mine Sout German Catolicks,
Id vas pe goot, I know;
Likevise dem Nordland Luterans,
If vonce to shoorsh dey go.

"Boot how vas id mit oders
Who dinks philosophie?
I don't begreif de matter,"
Said Stossenheim: "Denn see.
De more dat shoorsh disgoostet you,
Und make despise und bain,
De crater merid ish to go,
Und de crater ish your gain.

"I know a liddle shoorsh mineself,
Oopon de Bole Jack road:
(De rebs vonce shot dree Federals dere,
Ash into shoorsh dey goed.)
Dere you might make a bilcrimage,
Und do id in a tay:
Gott only knows vot dings you mighdt
Bick oop, oopon de vay."

Denn oop dere shpoke a contrapand,
Vas at de tent id's toor-
"Dere's twenty bar'ls of whiskey, hid,
In dat tabernacle, shore.
A rebel he done gone and put
It in de cellar, true,
No libin man dat secret knows,
'Cept only me an' you."

Der Stossenheim, he grossed himself,
Und knelt peside de fence,
Und gried: "O Coptain Breitmannn, see,
Die finger Providence."
Der Breitmann droed his hat afay,
Says he, "Pe't hit or miss,
I'fe heard of miragles pefore,
Boot none so hunk ash dis."

"Wohlauf mine pully cafaliers,
Ve'll ride to shoorsh to-day,
Each man ash hasn't cot a horse
Moost shteal von, rite afay.
Dere's a raw, green corps from Michigan,
Mit horses on de loose,
You men ash vants some hoof-irons,
Look out and crip deir shoes."

All brooshed und fixed, de cavallrie,
Rode out py moonen shine,
De cotton fields in shimmerin light,
Lay white as elfenbein.
Dey heard a shot close py Lavergne,
Und men who rode afay,
In de road a-velterin his his ploot,
A Federal picket lay.

Und all dat he hafe dimes to say,
"Vhile shtandin at my post,
De guerillas got first shot at me,"
Und so gafe oop de ghost.
Denn a contrapand, who helt his head,
Said: "Sah - dose grillers all
Is only half a mile from hy'ar,
A dancin at a ball."

Der Breitmann shpoke and brummed it out
Ash if his heart tid schvell:
"I'll gife dem music at dat pall
Vill tantz dem into hell."
Hei! - arrow-fast - a teufel's ride!
De plack man led de vay,
Dey reach de house - dey see de lights-
Dey heard de fiddle blay.

Dey nefer vaited for a word
Boot galloped from de gloom,
Und, bang! - a hoonderd carpine shots
Dey fired indo de room.
Oop vent de groans of vounded men,
De fittlin died away:
Boot some of dem vere tead pefore
De music ceased to blay.

Denn crack und smack coom scotterin shots
Troo vindow und troo door,
Boot bang and clang de Germans gife
Anoder volley more.
"Dere - let 'em shlide. Right file to shoorsh!"
Aloudt de orders ran.
"I kess I paid dem for dat shot,"
Shpeak grim der Breitemann.

All rosen red de mornin fair
Shone gaily o'er de hill,
A violet plue de shky crew teep
In rifer, pond, und rill;
All cloudy grey de limeshtone rocks
Coom oop troo dimmerin wood;
All shnowy vite in mornin light
De shoorsh pefore dem shtood.

"Now loudet vell de organ, oop,
To drill mit solemn fear;
Und ring also dat Lumpenglock
To pring de beoples here.
Und if it prings guerillas down,
Ve'll gife dem, py de Lord,
De low-mass of de sabre, and
De high-mass of de cord.[20]

"Du, Eberlé aus Freiburg,
Du bist ein Musikant,
Top-sawyer on de counterpoint
Und buster in discánt,
To dee de soul of musik
All innerly ish known,
Du canst mit might fullenden
De art of orgel-ton.

"Derefore, a Miserére
Vill dou, be-ghostet, spiel,
Und vake be-raiséd, yearnin,
Also a holy feel:-
Pe referent, men - rememper
Dis ish a Gotteshaus-
Du Conrad - go along de aisles
Und schenk de whiskey aus!:

Dey blay crate dings from Mozart,
Beethoven, und Méhul
Mit chorals of Sebastian Bach
Soopline und peaudiful.
Der Breitmann feel like holy saints,
De tears roon down his fuss;
Und he sopped out, "got verdammich - dis
Ist wahres Kunstgenuss!"[21]

Der Eberlé blayed oop so high,
He maket de rafters ring;
Der Eberlé blayed lower, und
Ve heardt der Breitmann sing
Like a dronin wind in piney woods
Like a nightly moanin sea:
Ash de dinked on Sonntags long agone
Vhen a poy in Germany.

Und louder und mit louder tone
High oop de orgel blowed,
Und plentifuller efer yet
Around de whiskey goed.
Dey singed ash if mit singin, dey
Might indo Himmel win:-
I dink in all dis land soosh shprees
Ash yet hafe nefer peen.

Vhen in de Abendsonnenschein,
Mit doost-clouds troo de door,
All plack ash night in golden lighdt
Der shtood ein schwartzer Mohr,
Dat contrapand so wild und weh,
Mit eye-palls glaring roun,
Who cried "For Gott's sake, hoory oop!
De reps ish gomin down!"

Und while he yet was shpeakin,
A far-off soundt pegan,
Down rollin from de moundain
Of many a ridersmann.
Und vhile de waves of musik
Vere rollin o'er deir heads,
Dey heard a foice a schkreemin,
"Pile out of thar, you Feds!

"For we uns ar' a comin
For to guv to you uns fits,
And knock you into brimstun
And blast you all to bits"-
Boot ere it done ids shpeakin,
Der vas order in de band,
Ash Breitmann, mit an awfool stim
Out-dondered his gommand.

Und ash fisch-hawk at a mackarel
Doth make a splurgin flung,
Und ash eagles dab de fish-hawks
Ash if de gods vere young,
So from all de doors and vindows,
Like shpiders down deir webs
De Dootch went at deir horses,
Und de horses at de rebs.

Crate shplendors of de treadful
Vere in dat pattle rush,
Crate vights mit swords und carpine,
Py efery fence and bush.
Ash panters vight mit crislies
In famished morder fits-
For de rebs vere mad ash boison,
Und de Dootch vere droonk ash blitz.

Yet vild ash vas de pattle,
So quickly vas it o'er,
O, vhy moost I forefer
Pestain mine page mit gore?
Py liddle und py liddle
Dey drawed demselfs afay,
Oft toornin' round to vighten
Like boofaloes at bay.

De scatterin shots grew fewer,
De scatterin gries more shlow,
Und furder troo de forest
Ve heard dem vainter grow.
Ve gife von shout - "Victoria!"
Und denn der Breitmann said,
Ash he wiped his ploody sabre:
"Now, poys, count oop your dead!"

Oh small had been our shoutin
For shoy, if ve had known
Dat der Stossenheim im oaken wald,
Lay dyin all alone.
Vhile his oldt vhite horse mit droopin het
Look dumbly on him doun,
Ash if he dinked, "Vy lyest dou here
Vhile fightin's goin on?"

Und dreams coom o'er de soldier
Slow dyin on de eart;
Of a schloss afar in Baden,
Of his mutter, und nople birt!
Of poverty and sorrow,
Vhich drofe him like de wind,
Und he sighed, "Ach weh for de lofed ones,
Who wait so far pehind!"

"Wohl auf, my soul o'er de moundains!
Wohl auf - well ofer de sea!
Dere's a frau dat sits in de Odenwald
Und shpins, und dinks of me.
Dere's a shild ash blays in de greenin grass,
Und sings a liddle hymn,
Und learns to shpeak a fader's name
Dat she nefer will shpeak to him.

"But mordal life ends shortly
Und Heafen's life is long:-
Wo bist du Breitmann? - glaub'es-[22]
Gott suffers noding wrong.
Now I die like a Christian soldier,
My head oopon my sword:-
In nomine Domini!"-
Vas Stossenheim his word.

O, dere vas bitter wailen
Vhen Stossenheim vas found.
Efen from dose dere lyin
Fast dyin on de ground.
Boot time vas short for vaiten,
De shades vere gadderin dim:
Und I nefer shall forget it,
De hour ve puried him.

De tramp of horse und soldiers
Vas all de funeral knell;
De ring of sporn und carpine
Vas all de sacrin bell.
Mit hoontin knife und sabre
Dey digged de grave a span,
From German eyes blue gleamin
De holy water ran.

Mit moss-grown shticks und bark-thong
De plessed cross ve made,
Und put it vhere de soldier's head
Towards Germany vas laid.
Dat grave is lost mit dead leafs,
De cross is goned afay:
Boot Gott will find der reiter
Oopon de Youngest Day.

Und dinkin of de fightin,
Und dinkin of de dead,
Und dinkin of de organ,
To Nashville, Breitmann led
Boot long dat rough oldt Hanserl
Vas earnsthaft, grim und kalt,
Shtill dinkin o'er de heart's friend,
He'd left im gruenen wald.[23]

De verses of dis boem
In Heidelberg I write;
De night is dark around me,
De shtars apove are bright.
Studenten in den Gassen[24]
Make singen many a song;
Ach Faderland! - wie bist du weit!
Ach Zeit! - wie bist du lang![25]

[19] Wurst, literally sausage, is used by German students to signify indiffer ence. When a sausage is on the table, and one is asked with mock courtesy which part he prefers, he naturally replies - "Why, it is all sausage to me." I have heard an elderly man in New England reply to the query whether he would have "black meat or breast" - "Any part, thank'ee - I guess it's all turkey." There are, of course, divers ancient and quaint puns in Pennsylvania, on such a word as wurst.

Thus it is said that a northern pedlar, in being served with some sausage of an inferior quality, was asked again if he would have some of the wurst. Not understanding the word, and construing it as a slight, he replied to his hostess - "No, thank you, marm, this is quite bad enough." The literal meaning of this line, which is borrowed from Scheffel's poem of Perkéo, is "indifferent, and equal, to me."

[20] It was, I believe, Ragnar Lodbrog who, in his Death Song, spoke, about as intelligently and clearly as Herr Breitmann, of a mass of weapons.

[21] Is true art-enjoyment.

[22] Where art thou Breitmann? - Believe it.

[23] In the green wood.

[24] Students in the streets.

[25] Oh Fatherland! - how thou art far!
Oh Time! - how art thou long!

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