Excerpt from Das Buch der Zeit [The Book of the Times] (1885)
The time for amorous adventures,
Is long gone for me by now!
No, only in the midst of crowds,
When catching sight of big cities,
And at the sound of telegraph wires,
Do my feelings pour forth into words.
Then my ear believes it hears the footsteps
Of forward marching columns
And soon I see a battle won,
Such as no general has ever secured.
But it aims not at any dynasty
Nor fights with sword and club –
Galvani’s wire and the voltaic pile
Are spraying sparks, directed by a genius.
Thus, to you, who bore me in pain,
To you, new age of blood and iron,
I lay down my heart and its melody
Wordlessly at your high altar!
You, too, are looking toward the dawning
And dreaming of some undiscovered worlds;
Will you requite to me that love for you
That burns so deeply in my heart?