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Richard Dehmel

Translated by Margarete Munsterberg

“Everyone,” writes Prof. Muensterberg in his new book, “The War and America,” “has read those English poems cabled over the world which the war has brought forth.  But all which they had to say was boastful pride in England and hatred for the enemy.   No tone of that kind was heard in Germany.   One poem after another is filled with the moral meaning of the world event.   The controlling idea is that of self-discipline.   We have taken life too lightly; we have lived too much for the joys of the day and the pomp of the outer world; now the hour of sacrifice and of need and of sadness has come upon us.   May it make us purer in heart and deeper in thought and more ideal in action.   The whole meaning of life is to do one’s duty, and suffering may help us to become better.   I may pick out of many similar songs one by Richard Dehmel.   I know he has always felt the pulsebeat of the German nation.”

Margarete Muensterberg, the  daughter of Prof. Muensterberg, has translated this strong poem into English.   Miss Muensterberg is the author of “Ann Borden’s Career,” a powerful novel, and is well known for her excellent translations from the German classics.   She is now engaged in the writing of another social novel.   We herewith reprint her faithful translation of Richard Dehmel’s stirring verse:

Hour of steel, thou art a blessing,

That at last unites us all.

Friend and foe, still peace caressing,

Trembled in suspicion’s thrall.

Now comes the fight,

The honest fight!

Greed with blunted claw has meanly

Bartered for its pomp and lust;

Now we all are feeling keenly

What can save our souls from dust.

The hour of need,

Of blessed need!

Truth will blaze through darkness smiting,

Over dust and powder’s smoke.

Not for life we men are fighting,

Fighting till the fatal stroke.

For then comes death,

Divinest death!

Led by faith, thy land defending,

People, for thy spirit fight,

Heroes’ blood for honor spending!

Sacrifice be our delight.

Then victory,

Hail victory!

Dehmel, Richard. “The War and German Poetry.” Transl. by Margarete Muensterberg. The Fatherland 1, no. 21 (December 30, 1914): 28.

Dehmel, Richard. “The War and German Poetry.” Transl. by Margarete Muensterberg. The Fatherland 1, no. 21 (December 30, 1914): 28.


Prof. Muensterberg

Hugo Münsterberg (1863–1916) was a German–American psychologist. He directed Harvard University’s psychology laboratory from 1892 to 1895, returning to Freiburg, Germany for two years before accepting a permanent position at Harvard in 1897. His book, Die Amerikaner (1904) established him “as the chief interpreter of American culture to the Germans.”

Benjamin, Ludy T. “Münsterberg, Hugo (1863–1916), psychologist.” In American National Biography. February 1, 2000. https://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1400431.


The War and America

Münsterberg’s book “discusses the essential factors and issues in the European war and their meaaning and import for America.”

Münsterberg, Hugo. Preface to The War and America. Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1915, 7. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.ax0000192377?urlappend=%3Bseq=248.


English poems

Jane Potter observes, “Discussions of First World War poetry tend to be dominated by English names: Wilfred Owen (1893–1918), Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), Isaac Rosenberg (1890–1918).”

Potter, Jane. ”War Poetry.” In 1914–1918–online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, edited by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson. Freie Universität Berlin, 2014–. Article published July 31, 2019. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/war_poetry.

See also Das, Santanu, ed. The Poetry of the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.


Anna Borden’s Career

Margarete Münsterberg (1889–1857) was born in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany and died in Massachusetts.

Münsterberg, Margareta. Anna Borden’s Career: A Novel. New York and London: D. Appleton, 1913. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044024605396.

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