The Insolently Threatened Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible

Canto The Fourth

What do I see! Saint John, illuminate my vision,
So that your poetry’s power may lend me inspiration.
Whose holy eyes saw Angel Michael in the fight
With the great dragon, fill, O fill my soul with light!
What do I see! It’s drawing nigh, the day of doom,
The battles’ last that bears destruction in its womb.
I see the whole horizon bounded by a ring
Of cloud that slowly lifts, at first unhurrying,
Then swiftly, like the lion greedy for his prey,
Springs forward. All the hounds of Hell speed on their way,
Hissing through misty cloud. Their tails, ablaze with fire,
Whip all around and lash to shreds the very air.
In a wild witches’ dance with greedy rage they spin,
Yelling with fury, mad to appease the wrath within.
What do I see! You mount Heav'n’s heights, accursed race?
May you unpunished go along the Almighty’s ways?
You wield the lightning, hold the thunder in your hand?
Ah, it’s the desperate man of Bonn that leads your band!
But see, God’s mercy ever watches from afar,
And when all ends, it shall be with a Gloria.
       Consumed with rage, the forces of the Free draw near;
Soon, soon God’s might shall turn their arrogance to fear.
They come, a seething mass. As Wigand sails along,
The others follow him, a roaring, snorting throng.
To Leipzig city he is leading one and all,
The “Gutenberg” he’s chosen as his arsenal.
Many a bastion’s piled up high with bulging bales,
Rampart and trench are dug for when the foe assails.
Four ravelins are stacked up high with Bauer’s writings,
With guns galore to give protection to the curtains.
Many a text of Köppen’s Friedrich lies there,
Many a page of Annals from a long-past year.
The Trumpet Feuerbach, in heavy bundles bound,
Are stacked in serried rows to ring the fortress round.
And as cheval de fate, there’s Ruge’s Novelist,
To mop the sweat up, there’s The Faded Pietist.'
As last resort, there is a little nook of Hell —
The house, that’s now become a mighty citadel.
They've walled the windows, barricaded up the door,
The attic has been made an ammunition store,
And when the Pious party moves to the attack,
From overhead the Free can give their skulls a crack.
Now, drawing nearer with a wild, exultant sound,
The Free disperse to man the bastions all around.
       On, on from Halle march God’s soldiers, one and all,
With Jacob’s scaling ladder for the fortress wall.
Flag-like, the fiery pillar proudly goes before them,
And burning bushes light the darkling roadway for them.
Could I but paint the pious train in colours bright,
And richly bathe it round in beams of holy light!
Proud, wrathful Leo is the one who takes the lead.
Swinging along without constraint, he strides ahead,
Five volumes of world history in his pious fists,
He’s otherwise unarmed, it is in Faith he trusts
Where arrogance and self-assurance aren’t enough.
The next line’s leader is indeed of Godly stuff —
Nerr Julius Sinck von Sinus as the Pious know him.
The dear man thinks to carry arms would be below him.
With presence pure and simple does he smite the Free,
And so the Faithful gather round him trustingly.
And sacred songs and prayer are their only arms,
Because when from afar the strains of heavenly psalms
Resound, the Free forthwith take to their heels and run.
Bonn sends a host of stalwarts, champions, every one;
They're led by Brother Nix. [Karl Immanuel Nitzsch] The Swabians now draw nigh;
The Christian Courier [Der Christen-Bote. Ein kirchlich-religiöses Sonntagsblatt]is the banner that they fly.
Brave Mallet brings the faithful folk of Bremen in,
And Hengstenberg commands the Pious from Berlin.
And even you, the ones who ordered Strauss away
From Zurich, follow fearless Hirzel to the fray,
The priest of Pfäffikon. [Bernhard Hirzel] They come from Basel, too.
Krummacher, man of God, from Wuppertal are you.
The troops form up. in every spacious Leipzig square,
And sounds of exultation fill the distant air,
Strains of upswelling song to touch the heart’s own strings.
Each asks his neighbour: Say, who can it he that sings?
Behold, astride his she-ass (all stand goggle-eyed)
Comes Brother Bag; he sees the Heavens open wide.
And this is what he sings: “God’s sword and Gideon here!
Up, Brothers, and behold the Devil’s earthworks there!
However terribly they yawn, those gates of Hell,
Onward and trust in Godt Faith will acquit you well!”
       Behold the she-ass up the bastions nimbly springing,
And, following after her, the Faithful ones all singing!
Oh, what a fierce attack! Despair, all ye Blasphemers!
Scream for your devil now, ye God-forsaken screamers!
Now Brother Bag flies up that mighty wall of Pride
That Hengstenberg may lead his pious troops inside.
But there within, the Devil orders the. defence,
Banishes craven doubts and counsels with good sense.
See, Blücher-Wigand stands high on the ravelin,
Egged on by Maien. How they make their missiles spin!
There’s Stirner, see him flinging bales of books entire,
While hordes of Pious warriors melt beneath his fire.
See Arnold on the wall: he hardly ever misses,
Hurling his Yearbooks down at all those pious faces.
High on the wall of books and in the leading row,
Mad Bauer wields The Trumpet, blow on deadly blow,
The Patriot [Ludwig Buhl] ensconced where no missile can fly,
Tosses his pamphlets backwards at the enemy,
While with his toad-spit furious Köppen stems the flood,
But most humanely takes good care to shed no blood.
The raving Edgar fights with brewer strength and valour,
While red with blood is Oswald’s coat of pepper colour.
See the Cologne contingent. In the furious fray
Rtg’s pipe’s gone out; but he feels no dismay:
Swinging it by its long and supple tube right well, he
Wraps the water-bowl round many a pious belly.
Gold devils are the missiles that the Youngster [Georg Jung] skims;
The Monster [Karl Marx] joins the battle flexing all his limbs.
Yet on the Pious press, still more victorious;
Their Hallelujahs ringing still more glorious.
Up on the mound of books has Hengstenberg appeared.
He seizes Blücher-Wigand by his long blond beard.
Raging, he pulls it out and manages to chuck
Wigand full length into a horrid pool of muck.
Edgar is now hard pressed, and Arnold is beset.
Köppen has fled indoors; with him, the Patriot.
The arrogant wall of books is almost half torn down,
But still the frenzied Bauer stands his ground alone.
He hurls a bale of books at Bag to seal the doom
Of that most pious one and be a fitting tomb.
Herr Sinck von Sinnes staggers at a blow of his.
But Halle’s Leo still defies Hell’s wild abyss.
A Samson, he strains hard at that proud fortress wall.
It crashes down. See Bauer, even Bauer, fall!
Pinned helpless to the ground by his own bales he lies.
See the Believers set on him with joyous cries!
Bag struggles to his feet. With a triumphant cheer
He goes across to Bauer, grips him by the ear,
And says: “Ye Faithful, God fulfilleth all my hopes
The Lord my refuge is. I see the Heavens ope!
Leave Bauer in my hands. To battle, never fear!
While you defeat the others, I shall guard him here!”
They truss up Bauer, then, to hymns victorious,
They set their Jacob’s ladder up against the house.
Now rocks the Gutenberg, now splits the fortress door,
Near empty is the attic ammunition store.
Now wrings the Patriot his hands in grief and woe,
Now Arnold’s ham is wounded by a flying blow.
Maien is bleeding from the mouth and nose as well.
Frightened, the Devil plunges down the abyss of Hell.
       He plummets down into the depths with shrieks of horror.
Ha, how the wicked ones all huddle up in terror!
They plead, blaspheme, and threaten. Then, all trembling, he:
“Oh, shame, the Pious have made mincemeat of the Free!
Useless my jeers, my fetor pestilential.
Alas, they've beaten me with songs celestial
Bauer is captive, Wigand’s lost his beard withal,
And now they've stormed and occupied our book-bale wall!”
The depths of Hell resound with dreadful shrieks of fear;
Wild Hegel’s agony is horrible to hear.
No sooner has the gang recovered from this news,
Than Hell’s mad Knights break into bluster and abuse
In mutinous uproar. “You claim to be the Devil,
And let things come to this!” screams forth the frenzied Hegel.
“Where were your sulphur fumes, your blazing firebrands bright?
Scared monster, did a mere Amen put you to flight?
Too late we see you're much too old to keep the pace;
Women and children are the only ones you chase.
UP, for swift action helps, not weeping and despair.
Up, Danton, up, Voltaire, and you too, Robespierre!
Earth-creatures, you alone can end this infamy.
To Heaven with the Devil! We shall devils be!
The mythic scum was never any use at all.
A thousand years of flame won’t fire the craven soul.
Brother Marat, arise! At last we've learned our need.
We, who were human once, must choose a man to lead.
The Devil was, and still remains, nought but a myth,
He is our foe like any true son of the Faith.
To victory, then!”
       With crazed impetuosity
Straight out of Hell the blood-voracious Aesir flee.
Their leader, Hegel, swings two torches in the air,
Whirling a fiery flail, behind him comes Voltaire.
Danton is shouting with them, Edelmann is howling.
“Charge, charge, you scum of Hell!” Napoleon is bawling.
Marat holds in his hands two of Hell’s hairy litter;
Depraved man-murderer, he’s thirsting for the slaughter.
Whirling along with twisted mouth flies Robespierre.
See the crazed mob disgorged by Hell’s abyss down there!
No sooner are they out, than all that desperate shower
Head for where Brother Bag is standing guard on Bauer.
Bag is much shaken. Tears stream from the donkey’s eyes.
“O Lord, the end is near! Our time is come!” she cries.
Marat lets fly a shot, and Bag, all glassy-eyed,
Sinks to the ground. He sees the Heavens open wide.
Hegel embraces crazy Bauer. “Yes, ‘tis done!
You've comprehended mel You are my own dear son!”
He frees him. Then the wicked ones with great delight:
Bauer’s our herol He shall lead us to the fight!
The Devil is deposed. What we need is a man!”
And then with screams and yells they charge the pious band.
The tables are now turned. God’s folk flee, sorely tried.
But Bag, as usual, sees the Heavens open wide.
He’s borne aloft to Heaven by his virgin ass.
Oh, what a miracle the Lord bath brought to pass!
Behold Elijah-Bag aloft to Heaven sailing,
The plans of the Blasphemers gloriously foiling.
Behind, the shining armies of the pious rise,
With songs of joy ascending to the very skies.
But, with triumphant shouts, Hell’s evil offspring shoot
Straight up behind the Almighty’s host in hot pursuit.
Now fear and horror overwhelm the pious troops,
As Hell’s pack surges up with savage yells and whoops.
       Meanwhile, the Devil has for, some time been struck dumb
By the rebellion which has, carried every one
Of his best men away. Hell’s taken by surprise.
All stand unmoving and regard with staring eyes
The exit through which Hegel’s host has just dispersed.
Till from his foaming mouth the imprecations burst:
“Fool that I am — betrayed! I now see where it leads!
Their deed’s more devilish than all my wretched deeds.
I led the Free astray, till they became too free,
And now they've gone and foully freed themselves from me!
Truly, it is past help, the lowly human breed,
Craving the most outrageous freedom in its greed.
If all these Free hold nothing sacred any more,
Is it my ruin, too, they're really aiming for?
Denying God, I only fight against myself.
Soon, as a myth, I too shall end up on the shelf.
To Heav'n! We'll seek the Lord up there with due compliance;
United, we shall form a holy High Alliance!”
He soars aloft. And, kneeling at God’s feet, begins:
“Lord, do not make me pay for all my wretched sins!
I join you in the fight!” God, generous, replies:
“For just this once we'll let your old trespasses be.
Go, wash your wicked sins off in Blasphemers’ blood,
Return, and leave the rest to me, your gracious God!”
       Joyous, he rushes off. The battle’s almost lost,
For though assistance has gone to the pious host,
Oh, ignominy! — with the Faith it’s nearly over.
The wicked follow up one triumph with another.
From star to star, insane with fury, Bauer springs,
And in his hand The Trumpet for a club he swings.
At him come charging all the four Evangelists,
But nothing daunts the boldest of the Atheists.
Though Luke’s Bull levels angry horns and charges at him,
Though Mark’s great lion roars, there’s nothing can affright him.
He puts them all to flight. Wild Hegel in his ire
Scorches the angel pinions with a brand of fire.
Foul Voitaire’s flail still blazes brightly like a torch,
While raving Ruge thumps the Elders of the Church.
Now see how Bauer plucks a star from off its course
And sends it shooting at the fleeing pious force.
‘ne Devil’s pole-axed by a Trumpet blow at last;
Michael himself cannot withstand its mighty blast.
Next, furious Hegel seizes Sirius and throws
It straight at Hengstenberg: white as a sheet he goes.
See how the angel host, with wings a-smouldering, flies
Up through the misty clouds with frightened, piteous cries.
The Lambkin braves the Monster with a Cross held high;
The latter balls his fist and shakes it threateningly.
Even the Virgin Mary leaves her holy place,
To deeds of derring-do she spurs the angelic race.
“Up, against Bauer, up against the Titan, go!
He tried to apprehend me, I would have you know!”
However much she pleads, however sweet her glances,
The army of the Free ones steadily advances.
And now towards the Almighty’s holy realm they storm,
God’s hosts are impotent against the oncoming swarm.
Into a star the pious ass bumps with her rider;
Head over heels she goes, with Brother Bag astride her.
Bauer at once swoops on him with a horrid shout,
The fatal Trumpet ready aimed to snuff him out.
Ruge grabs Leo of the Saale: with some force
He stuffs a page of Annals in between his jaws. —
But what’s this floating down bathed in celestial light?
What’s making Bauer shake from head to foot with fright?
It’s just a little piece of parchment, strange to say.
What might be written on it by the heavenly ray?
It flutters down. At Bauer’s feet it comes to rest.
Shaking, he stoops and picks it up with heaving breast. —
Why does the cold sweat on his brow spring so abundant?
What does he murmur, stunned? He murmurs this — “Redundant!”
Hardly has Heaven’s word from Hell’s own mouth rung out,
Before “Redundant!” is the universal shout.
The Free are horror-struck, the Angels filled with glee,
The Free take flight, the Host pursues relentlessly.
The Free are driven down to Earth in full confusion,
That wicked folk shall all receive due retribution.