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I am trying to read Friedrich Schiller's An die Freude (Ode to Joy). On the fifth line he says:

Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;

Zauber is masculine according to Duden and I think it should be in nominative case here (based on its semantic role). If I am not wrong, adjectives (including the possessive adjectives) have to agree with their head nouns in case, gender and number when used attributively. Then why we have Deine here instead of Dein? Yes, Deine is nominative so it agrees with the case of its head noun, Zauber; but its gender seems not to agree (Deine is feminine). I expected to find Dein here.

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2 Answers 2

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It's plural. It is not one magic spell, but many spells

Your spells rebind
what fashion has strictly divided

If it was only one spell, it would be

Dein Zauber bindet wieder, ...

So also the verb would be in singular then.

And the meaning of »Zauber« is not really magic spell, i.e. something you say, but it's more your charism or radiance.

case singular plural
Nom Dein Zauber ist wirksam. Deine Zauber sind wirksam.
Gen Du bedienst dich deines Zaubers. Du bedienst dich deiner Zauber.
Dat Das gehört zu deinem Zauber. Das gehört zu deinen Zaubern.
Akk Ich spüre deinen Zauber. Ich spüre deine Zauber.

Be aware, that the poem »An die Freude« by Schiller was written in 1785 and published in its first version in 1786, i.e. about 240 years ago and it's written in a poetic style. Both of which lead to the fact, that the grammar of the poem would be considered wrong in modern German. For example, the line from your quote would be in correct modern German

Deine Zauber binden wieder, was die Mode streng geteilt hat.

Schiller din't use the auxiliary verb hat at the end of the sentence, that is mandatory in modern German. But 200+ years ago, you find in books and poems many sentences where auxiliary verbs are missing.


Addendum:

In Schillers first version, the text goes like this:

Deine Zauber binden wieder, was der Mode Schwerd getheilt; ...

This would be in modern German

Deine Zauber binden wieder, was das Schwert der Mode geteilt hat; ...
Your spells rebind what the sword of fashion has divided;

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  • I want to thanks for your clarifying response. Now I can see. Commented Mar 26 at 16:34
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    You may want to recalculate the time span of "250 years" from "1875" until now. Furthermore I'm pretty sure Schiller was dead when he was 115 years old.
    – bakunin
    Commented Mar 26 at 18:20
  • @hubert-schölnast: Your points raised a new question in my mind. I do agree with you that binden, a plural verb, requires a plural subject and hence Zauber is to be interpreted as plural as well. And, if Zauber is plural, its possessive adjective, too, needs to be plural (as it has been used attributively and attributive adjectives agree in case, number and gender with their head nouns). To be continued… Commented Mar 27 at 16:21
  • … Nonetheless, I think Deine could be explained in another way too. What if we interpret Deine as possessive pronoun rather than possessive adjective? Then its referent will no more be Zauber; but will be the Freude in the first line: Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Brüder Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. … Commented Mar 27 at 16:22
  • … Freude is feminine and we know that the nominative second-person possessive pronoun is Deine (Bruce Donaldson's German: An Essential Grammar, 2007, p. 59). I am almost certain that possessive pronouns must agree with their referent (i.e. the noun which they represent) in gender and number. Hence Deine could be explained: it agrees with Freude in gender and number (singular). Commented Mar 27 at 16:22
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You may want to look at the verb: "binden" is a plural form. You're maybe expecting

Dein Zauber bindet wieder.

But in this case, "Zauber" is in plural, and therefore, the article and the verb are too:

Deine Zauber binden wieder.

In this case, "Zauber" could be translated as "spell" or "enchantment", so the sentence could be translated as

Your enchantments are binding again.

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  • Thank you very much for your illuminating response. Many thanks! Commented Mar 26 at 16:33

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