David (quemadmodum) wrote,

While working on Dichterliebe

Every now and then I realize that a particular poem means more to me than I first thought. I am revisiting Heinrich Heine's poems as so unforgettably set by Schumann in his "Dichterliebe". This "poet's love" song cycle charts an unhappy love affair and all of the poems are memorable. Schumann's sensitivity to words and moods is unrivalled, and his literary background makes his music particularly rewarding to sing.
I used to have a hard time getting through this song without breaking down. Its desperate longing resonates deeply with something in my heart. For your possible interest, here is the original poem, and a translation that I just put together, trying to express something of what I feel while singing it.
Without the music it's hard to imagine, but there you have it. The noble, hymn-like quality that Schumann gives to the next-to last stanza is unbearably moving.

Aus alten Märchen winkt es
Hervor mit weißer Hand,
Da singt es und da klingt es
Von einem Zauberland;

Wo bunte Blumen blühen
Im gold'nen Abendlicht,
Und lieblich duftend glühen,
Mit bräutlichem Gesicht;

Und grüne Bäume singen
Uralte Melodei'n,
Die Lüfte heimlich klingen,
Und Vögel schmettern drein;

Und Nebelbilder steigen
Wohl aus der Erd' hervor,
Und tanzen luft'gen Reigen
Im wunderlichen Chor;

Und blaue Funken brennen
An jedem Blatt und Reis,
Und rote Lichter rennen
Im irren, wirren Kreis;

Und laute Quellen brechen
Aus wildem Marmorstein.
Und seltsam in den Bächen
Strahlt fort der Widerschein.

Ach, könnt' ich dorthin kommen,
Und dort mein Herz erfreu'n,
Und aller Qual entnommen,
Und frei und selig sein!

Ach! jenes Land der Wonne,
Das seh' ich oft im Traum,
Doch kommt die Morgensonne,
Zerfließt's wie eitel Schaum.

Out of old legends
A white hand beckons to us,
With songs and music
From a magical country

Where colored flowers are blooming
In golden evening light
And send forth lovely scents
From their sweet bridal faces,

And the green trees sing
Ancient melodies
And the breeze murmurs secretly
And the birds fill the air with singing

And vaporous figures rise
Out of the depths of the earth
And dance wondrously together
In weightless circles

And blue sparks begin to snap
From every leaf and branch
And red lights race about
In wild, dazzling circles,

And springs burst roaring
From boulders of marble,
And in the streams,
The reflections shine strangely

Ah! Ah!

If only I could get there
And fill my heart with joy,
And escape from all my pain,
And live in blessed freedom!

Ah, that blissful country
How often have I seen it in my dreams!
But then comes the morning sun
And it crumbles away like useless foam.

[at the end of the song, the music dances away into thin air...]
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