Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry


A Strong City Is Our God, By Martin Luther

Translation by Eli Siegel


A strong city is our God,

Good for safety and war.

With him, we're free of every need

That our lives have met.

The old angry enemy

Deeply means to win.

Great power and much trickery—

He frighteningly can use:

On earth he has no equal.


With our own strength nothing can be done,

We should be quickly lost.

The Just Man fights for us:

He was chosen by God himself.

Do you ask, Who is he?

He is named Jesus Christ,

The Lord of Hosts.

There is no other God:

He must hold the field.


And were the world full of devils

Wishing to swallow us completely,

However frightened we might be,

We should still win out.

The Prince of this World,

Whatever grimness he takes on,

Will do nothing to us.

There's power; he is doomed.

A little word can make him fall.


That is the way it will be:

No thanks are needed!

God's way goes well with us,

It has his mind and kindness.

Should they take away our Body,

Wealth, Honor, Child and Wife,

Let that be so:

They have no victory.

The kingdom he is remains for us.

A Strong City Is Our God, By Martin Luther. 1967. God is given a tangible and organized strength in this poem. Offhand, we would not see God as a city or fortress. For one thing, God is spiritual; and for another, he is not just a city but all reality—and does not one diminish God by making him an armed municipality? However, it was necessary that God be might as might was understood in the sixteenth century of Germany and Europe. Once the idea of the city as strength is accepted, Christ as the Just Man—somehow identified with the city—seems more able to combat both the trickery and obvious warlike strength of the devil. The city changes into kindness and strategy, able to defeat the deviI's malice and maneuvering. The way Luther metamorphoses city into fortress, city into Christ, city into justice, city into happiness, city into kingdom, is poetic and in­genious. And religion, of course, fares well.


From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel

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