Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

An Evening

Written: in July 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 125, August 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald

To-morrow comes!


I sit in the garden. ‘Neath the ocean’s rim
The old day’s sun has slowly slipped from sight,
And hidden shafts that draw their strength from him
Now fill the heavens with scintillating light.
But with day’s brilliance fading from the sky,
The flowers stand and grieve in silent sadness;
Meanwhile the birds, safe in the tree-tops high,
Carol their love-songs full of joy and gladness.
Ships that have traced the oceans with their wake
Now lie at anchor in the peaceful bay.
From end to end the timbered bridges shake
As the tired people trudge their homeward way.
The cool wine bubbles in the crystal glass.
I leaf through Caldetön’s great comedies,
Drinking my fill to very drunkenness
On heady wine and headier tragedies.


The radiance in the West is almost gone.
Patience! A new day’s coming — Freedom’s day!
The sun shall mount his ever-shining throne
And Night’s black cares be banished far away.
New flowers shall grow, but not in nursery beds
We raked ourselves and sowed with chosen seeds:
All earth shall be their garden full of light;
’ Written in English in the original. (Shelley, Queen Mab.)
All plants shall flourish in far alien lands.
The Palm of Peace shall grace the Northern strands,
The Rose of Love shall crown the frozen wight,
The sturdy Oak shall seek the Southern shore
To make the club that strikes the despot down,
And he who brings his nation peace once more
Shall wear upon his head the oak-leaf crown.
The Aloe, flourishing all over Earth,
Is like the People’s spirit everywhere,
As prickly, coarse, and lacking grace as they are,
Till, with a crash, there suddenly bursts forth
Through every obstacle a blossom bright —
The Freedom flame, that glowed concealed from sight;
Its scent is far more like to reach the Lord
Than all the incense of the pious fraud.
Only the Cypress-trees are left alone,
Abandoned in the grove, their meaning gone.


The birds on their green branches greet the dawn
With paeans of tumultuous song, and know
That when the drifting cloudlets have withdrawn
Their steamy summits to the vales below,
Then shall the sun begin to mount his throne —
These birds are minstrel singers, every one;
Their words fly free as the free winds that blow;
And winds and words as one united go.
These songsters do not haunt the castle walls
(Those stately homes have long since tumbled down),
But, in proud oaks unbent by howling squalls,
Boldly they look towards the rising sun,
Though they be dazzled when his brilliance falls
To ring the earth with radiant light around.
1, too, am one of Freedom’s minstrel band.
’twas to the boughs of Börne’s great oak-tree
I soared, when in the vales the despot’s hand
Tightened the strangling chains round Germany.
Yes, I am of those plucky birds that make
Their course through Freedom’s bright aethereal sea.
Though I be just a sparrow in their wake,
Rather that little sparrow would I be
Than the caged nightingale that can’t take wing
And only to a prince’s car may sing.


No longer does the cargo vessel press
Across the ocean to enrich the few
Or swell the greedy merchant’s revenue:
It bears the seeds of human happiness.
It is a noble stallion prancing high,
Whose rider slays all hypocrites and crawlers,
It is the fearless scourge of human dolours,
It is a thought that dreams of Liberty.
The flag bears not the royal coat of arms
For the ship’s frightened crew to tremble under;
It bears the cloud on which, after the thunder,
After the lightning bolts of raging storms,
The reconciling Freedom rainbow forms.


The bridge of Love shall throw its spans unseen
Across from heart to heart; between the piers
Runs Passion’s wild and ever-rushing stream,
The swiftly flowing torrent of the years.
The bridge is diamond hard: it will not sag.
Across goes Freedom’s bravely shining flag.
Across goes Man. Where'er his feet may lead him,
Wherever he may choose to cast his eye,
He sees a friendly roof against the sky
And knows that food and drink are there to meet him;
A very home from home awaits to greet him,
Wherever he may make his bed and lie.
A bridge of purer faith shall pierce the clouds.
Man shall ascend it, climbing without fear
Its heavenward steps to gaze on, humbly proud,
The Eternal Archetype of All the Spirits.
Out of his bosom issues forth Mankind,
And to his bosom Men return again,
All conscious links in the great spirit-chain
By which Eternal Matter is confined.


New wine shall fill your glasses to the brim,
Pure Freedom wine’s intoxicating brew:
Not the unwary senses to bedim,
But jaded senses to exchange for new,
That with revived perception you may hear
The spheres in heaven singing high and low;
That the blood coursing through your veins may clear,
Transformed into pure Aether, which flows through
The Infinities; that your eye-beams may spear
Primordial Space, like warriors bold that go
To storm the starry summits without fear.
Between, like jack-o'-Lanterns in the sky,
Images of past woe are gliding by.


And there shall rise another Calderön,
Pearl-fisher in the tide of poetry,
With images like flames ascending from
The layered wood of the sweet Cedar-tree.
With golden lyre, he shall exalt in song
The bloody stamping out of Tyranny.
Mankind shall hear proud Victory’s refrain,
And Peace shall flourish in the world again.
He too shall sing how Mankind made a stand
Against the cruel hordes of Tyranny
Upon Mantible Bridge* [88]; how that brave band
Fought on through levelled spears to victory
And so set foot on Freedom’s hallowed land;
How Doctor of His Honour** came to be
Man, like the Constant Prince,*** condemned to languish
In chains until deliverance from anguish;
How Freedom came, The Daughter of the Air,****
Descending earthwards from aethereal space
To sing her magic songs, so wondrous fair;

How Life became a Dream***** of joy and grace,
And how the Cup of Happiness shone clear
Of furious ferment showing not a trace;
And how the sun shall put the clouds to flight,
Bringing sweet April-and-May-Mornings****** light.


But say, when is the new sun going to rise?
When will the bad old times be cracked asunder?
We saw the old sun sinking in the skies —
How long must night’s oppression keep us under?
The melancholy moon peers through the cloud,
And white mists, bivouacked in the vales below,
Hide all that lives on earth beneath their shroud.
Like blind men tapping through the dark we go.
Patience! For look, already heavenward bound,
The sun would chase the gloomy clouds away.
The very mists that crawl along the ground
Are Spirits’ dawn-breeze-wakened roundelay.
The morning star dances his upward way.
The mists are pierced by shafts of blood-red fire.
Do not the flowers unfold to greet the day?
Do you not hear the joyful feathered choir?
Now half the heavens are filled with radiance bright.
The snow-capped mountains blaze with ruby light.
The golden clouds rear up their noble heads
Like the sun’s fiery chariot-drawing steeds.
Look yonder, where the densest light rays run
In joyous throng to greet the new-born sun!

Notes by Engels:

* La puente de Mantible.
** El midico de su honra..
*** El principe constante.
**** La hija del aire.
***** La vida es sueño.
****** Mañano do Abril y Mayo.