At night I think of Germany,
And then all slumber flies from me;
I can no longer close mine eyes,
The hot and bitter tears will rise.
The years pass close upon each other;
And since I last beheld my mother,
Full twelve years long have come and gone,
And ever has my yearning grown.
My wistful yearning e’er has grown,
Or o’er my soul a spell she’s thrown;
From her my thoughts I cannot sever,
The dear old dame – God bless her ever!
She loves me well, the dear old dame,
And in the lines that from her came,
Tis proven by the words all blurred
How deep her mother’s heart was stirred.
My mother’s in my mind always;
Full twelve years have passed away,
Full twelve long years have joined the past
Since to my heart I clasped her last.
Oh! Germany will ever stand!
It is a strong and healthy land,
And with its oak and linden trees
I’m sure to find it, when I please.
I should not thirst for Germany so,
Did I not there my mother know;
The fatherland will ever stay,
The mother may be called away.
Since I have left my native land,
On many Death has laid its hand;
I loved them once – I call the roll
And count them now with bleeding soul.
Count them I must; yet, as I count,
Still higher does my torture mount,
As if the corpses, one by one,
Climbed on my breast! Thank God they’re gone!
Thank God! Now through my window, glance
The cheerful morning rays of France,
My wife comes with Aurora’s bloom
To smile away the German gloom.
Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856). Translated by Frances Helman, 1892.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall – a poem for Germany by exiled German poet Heinrich Heine, as he longs for his home, his mother, and his country.