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Arno Holz, Naturalist Poet, on German Technological Progress (1885)

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Yet no matter if steam and coal dust
May blur the strokes of this writing;
No transient happiness I wish to steal,
It is you I love and not your favor!

Pride swells my breast, my heart beats faster
And my eyes begin to water,
When I hear your hammering and knocking
On steel and iron, stone and ore.

For sweet, to me, is the melody
Issuing from these sounds of promise;
The hammers descend and roar:
Look here, this is poetry as well!

Advancing, it stops not only
In forests and at inns,
It also descends into the coal mines
And sits down at the joiner’s bench.

It harps, not as an evening breeze,
Merely whizzing through crumbling ruins,
Humming, it also drives those machines
And pounds and hammers, sews and spins.

It rocks as a slender barge
In reed-wreathed ponds so blue,
It shrouds its head in steam
And rushes forth as a railway train.

Swelled by never dreamt-of power,
It has cast off its old crutches,
Building brick tunnels and wooden bridges
And whistling around the world as a steamer.

Thus, to all you men who are real men,
Shatter your illusory idols
And pass on the rallying cry:
Good luck, good luck, the new time has come!

Source: Arno Holz, Werke [Works], edited by Wilhelm Emrich and Anita Holz, 7 vols. (Neuwied, 1961-1964), vol. 5, Das Buch der Zeit [The Book of the Times] (1885), pp. 21-28.

Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches]. Munich: Beck, 1982, pp. 24-26.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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