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John Maynard of  Theodor Fontane

John Maynard!
"Who is Maynard?"

"John Maynard was our helmsman,
He endured until he gained the shore,
He saved us, he wears the crown
He died for us, our love his reward.
John Maynard."

The "Swallow" flies over Lake Erie,
Spray foams around the bow like flakes of snow,
From Detroit she flies to Buffalo -
But the hearts are free and happy,
And the passengers with children and wives
already see the shore in the twilight,
And chatting up to John Maynard
Kicks everything: " How much farther, helmsman ;"
He looks ahead and around:
' Thirty minutes left... Half an hour '."

All hearts are happy, all hearts are free -
There it sounds from the hold of the ship like a scream,
" Fire! " was what sounded
A smoke came from cabin and hatch,
A smoke, then flames ablaze,
And twenty minutes to Buffalo.

And the passengers, mixed up
At the bowsprit they stand huddled together,
At the bowsprit forward there is still air and light,
At the helm, however, it's tightly packed,
And a wail rises: " Where are we? where? "
And fifteen minutes to Buffalo . -

The draft grows, but the cloud of smoke stands,
The captain peeks after the rudder,
He no longer sees his helmsman
But through the mouthpiece he asks:
" Still there, John Maynard? "

" Yes sir. I am. "

" To the Beach! Into the Surf! "

" I stand by it ."

And the ship crew cheers: " Hold on! Hello! "
And ten minutes to Buffalo. -

" Still there, John Maynard? " And the answer comes
With a dying voice: " Yes, sir, I can do it! "
And in the surf, what a cliff, what a stone,
He chases the "swallow" in the middle.
If rescue is to come, it will only come that way.
Rescue: Buffalo Beach!

The ship broke. The fire smolders.
Saved everyone. Only one missing!

All the bells go; their tones swell
Heaven up from churches and chapels,
A ringing and ringing, otherwise the city is silent,
One service only that she has today:
ten thousand follow or more,
And not a single eye in the process that is empty of tears.

They lower the coffin in flowers,
With flowers they close the grave,
And with golden writing in the marble stone
The city writes its thanks:
" Here rests John Maynard! In smoke and fire
He held the rudder firmly in his hand

He saved us, he wears the crown
He died for us, our love his reward

John Maynard."

Theodor Fontane

Further information and background information about John Maynard can be found here  Wikipedia

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