The “Song of the Bell” (“Das Lied von der Glocke”) by Friedrich Schiller is probably one of Germany’s best-known poems (and I believe longest) and a rich source of everyday German sayings. It inevitably had become part of my life way before I first read it, and only then I discovered the actual source of all the sayings. The section about marriage was read at my wedding by my best friend and has a particularly special meaning to me ever since. I read the poem regularly, always make new discoveries and hopefully one day will learn it by heart.
The Song of the Bell
WALLED in fast within the earth
Stands the form burnt out of clay.
This must be the bell’s great birth!
Fellows, lend a hand to-day.
Sweat must trickle now
From the burning brow,
Till the work its master honour.
Blessing comes from Heaven’s Donor.
While we our serious work are doing,
We ought to speak a serious word,
More easily our work pursuing,
When noble speech the while is heard.
Now let us earnestly be spying
What our weak powers can create;
I scorn the man who is not trying
On his own work to meditate.
This is the fairest of man’s graces:
The power to think and understand—
For in his inmost heart he traces
What he has fashioned with his hand.
Wood that from the pine-tree came
Keep right dry with zealous care,
That the deftly governed flame
Through the furnace hole may flare.
Boiling copper’s thick—
Get the tin now, quick!
Let the substance, liquid growing,
In a docile way be flowing.
What with the help of fire’s great power.
In this deep pit our hands have framed,
High on the belfry of the tower
In mighty tones shall be proclaimed.
In ages far beyond the morrow,
A voice for many shall ring out,
And it will mourn with those in sorrow
And join the choir of the devout.
What fate, forever changing, fleeting,
To mortals far below may bring,
Against the crown of metal beating,
As music of the bell will ring.
Bubbles leaping, white and spry!
Good! The masses flow at last.
Mix them with the alkali,
That they be more quickly cast.
From all foam quite free
Shall the mixture be,
From the metal pure before us,