Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis Op. 39

In a foreign land

From my homeland, beyond the red lightning,
The clouds come drifting in,
But father and mother have long been dead,
Now no one knows me there.
How soon, ah! how soon till that quiet time
When I too shall rest
Beneath the sweet murmur of lonely woods,
Forgotten here as well.

Intermezzo

I bear your beautiful likeness
Deep within my heart,
It gazes at me every hour
So freshly and happily.

My heart sings softly to itself
An old and beautiful song
That soars into the sky
And swiftly wings its way to you.

A forest dialogue

It is already late, already cold,
Why ride lonely through the forest?
The forest is long, you are alone,
You lovely bride! I’ll lead you home!

‘Great is the deceit and cunning of men,
My heart is broken with grief,
The hunting horn echoes here and there,
O flee! You do not know who I am.’

So richly adorned are steed and lady,
So wondrous fair her youthful form,
Now I know you—may God protect me!
You are the enchantress Lorelei.

‘You know me well—from its towering rock
My castle looks silently into the Rhine.
It is already late, already cold,
You shall never leave this forest again!’

Silence

No one know and no one can guess
How happy I am, how happy!
If only one, just one person knew,
No one else ever should!

The snow outside is not so silent,
Nor are the stars on high
So still and taciturn
As my own thoughts.

I wish I were a little bird,
And could fly across the sea,
Across the sea and further,
Until I were in heaven!

Moonlit night

It was as though Heaven
Had softly kissed the Earth,
So that she in a gleam of blossom
Had only to dream of him.

The breeze passed through the fields,
The corn swayed gently to and fro,
The forests murmured softly,
The night was so clear with stars.

And my soul spread
Her wings out wide,
Flew across the silent land,
As though flying home.

A beautiful foreign land

The tree-tops rustle and shudder
As if at this very hour
The ancient gods
Were pacing these half-sunken walls.

Here beyond the myrtle trees
In secret twilit splendour,
What are you saying, fantastic night,
Obscurely, as in a dream?

The glittering stars gaze down on me,
Fierily and full of love
The distant horizon speaks with rapture
Of some great happiness to come!


In a castle

Up there at his look-out
The old knight has fallen asleep;
Rain-storms pass overhead,
And the wood stirs through the portcullis.

Beard and hair matted together,
Ruff and breast turned to stone,
For centuries he’s sat up there
In his silent cell.

Outside it’s quiet and peaceful,
All have gone down to the valley,
Forest birds sing lonely songs
In the empty window-arches.

Down there on the sunlit Rhine
A wedding-party’s sailing by,
Musicians strike up merrily,
And the lovely bride—weeps.

Far from home

I hear the brooklets murmuring
Through the forest, here and there,
|In the forest, in the murmuring
I do not know where I am.

Nightingales are singing
Here in the solitude,
As though they wished to tell
Of lovely days now past.

The moonlight flickers,
As though I saw below me
The castle in the valley,
Yet it lies so far from here!

As though in the garden,
Full of roses, white and red,
My love were waiting for me,
Yet she died so long ago.


Melancholy

True, I can sometimes sing
As though I were content;
But secretly tears well up,
And my heart is set free.

Nightingales, when spring breezes
Play outside, sing
Their song of longing
From their dungeon cell.

Then all hearts listen
And everyone rejoices,
Yet no one feels the pain,
The deep sorrow in the song.

Twilight

Dusk is about to spread its wings,
The trees now shudder and stir,
Clouds drift by like oppressive dreams—
What can this dusk and dread imply?

If you have a fawn you favour,
Do not let her graze alone,
Hunters sound their horns through the forest,
Voices wander to and fro.

If here on earth you have a friend,
Do not trust him at this hour,
Though his eyes and lips be smiling,
In treacherous peace he’s scheming war.

That which wearily sets today,
Will rise tomorrow, newly born.
Much can go lost in the night—
Be wary, watchful, on your guard!

In the forest

A wedding procession wound over the mountain,
I heard the warbling of birds,
Riders flashed by, hunting horns peeled,
That was a merry chase!

And before I knew, all had faded,
Darkness covers the land,
Only the forest sighs from the mountain,
And deep in my heart I quiver with fear.

Spring night

Over the garden, through the air
I heard birds of passage fly,
A sign that spring is in the air,
Flowers already bloom below.

I could shout for joy, could weep,
For it seems to me it cannot be!
All the old wonders come flooding back,
Gleaming in the moonlight.

And the moon and stars say it,
And the dreaming forest whispers it,
And the nightingales sing it:
‘She is yours, is yours!’


Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -Leben

Since I set eyes on him

Since I set eyes on him
I think that I’ve gone blind;
Wherever it is I look
It’s only him I find;
As in a waking dream
His image, there before me,
Stands out against the darkness,
Bright, and oh, so clearly.
There is no light or color
Now in my surroundings,
I have no wish to join
My sisters with their playthings;
I would far rather go and weep
Quietly in my room –
I think that I’ve gone blind

He must be the best of all

He must be the best of all,
So gentle and so kind –
A noble mouth, an eye that’s clear.
Determined, with a brilliant mind.
He moves, as in the heavens
Does yon star so bright,
Across my field of vision,
Remote, a wonderful, majestic sight!
Continue on your destined course –
To gaze upon your light’s enough,
To watch from where I stand’s enough
To experience utter bliss and sadness, too.
For you shall not hear the silent prayer
I devote to your happiness,
An ordinary girl, nothing to you,
You star of all that’s marvelous!
Only she who’s truly worthy
Shall be favored by your choice.
I will bless the noble creature,
I will bless her and rejoice.
I’ll rejoice and I will weep,
Happy, happy, happy I will be,
And even if my heart should break,
Then let it break, what’s that to me!

I can’t believe it

I can’t believe it,
Dreaming’s affected my brain!
With so many to choose from,
Why pick me? I’m so plain!
I think he said:
“I’m yours for ever!”
A dream, I think,
Not real life …. Never!
So while still dreaming, let me die
Here cradled on his breast,
Embracing death with happiness,
By endless tears of joy possessed.

Ring upon my Finger

Ring upon my finger.
Little golden band,
I press you to my lips and heart;
You’ve helped me understand.
The dreams of tranquil childhood
Now lay in the past
And I was in a barren landscape,
Immeasurably vast,
Till, ring upon my finger,
That I do so revere,
You showed to me the values
Of life together here.
I want to serve and live for him,
To be his own by right,
Freely give myself to him,
Transfigured by his light.

In Friendship, Sisters, help me

In friendship, Sisters, help me
Put on my finery.
Be servants to the happy bride
Who this day will take her vow
And place the crown
Of flowering myrtle on my brow.
When lying in my beloved’s arms
Content, with joyous heart,
He, desirous even then, cried out
Impatient for this day to start.
Help me, Sisters, help me
Put aside a foolish fear,
That with unclouded eye
I may receive him,
Source of all that I hold dear.
When, like the sun, my beloved,
You stand before me,
Shall I reflect your radiance?
Then, let me bow my head
In all humility
And, Sir, with due reverence.
Sisters, strew flowers at his feet.
Offer him roses in bud ……….
Whilst I, meanwhile, bless you all sadly,
As, from your dear company,
I take my leave gladly!

Dear Friend, you look at me

My dear friend,
You look at me in some surprise,
As if you do not understand
The tears that I have in my eyes;
These salty pearls
That now adorn my face
Like some rare jewels,
Total, utter contentment trace.
I feel anxious in my heart,
Yet my heart is full of bliss;
Oh, if I only had the words
With which I could express all this!
Come hide your face
Here on my breast
And let me whisper in your ear
The joy with which I’m blessed.
Now that you know
The tears I shed,
Should you not see them,
Dearest man to whom I’m wed?
Stay here at my heart
And feel its beat
So that I can hug you.
Now my joy’s complete!
Here at my bedside
For a crib there’s space;
It conceals the sweetest dream
That I could ever face:
The day will come,
That dream will be,
And there your image
Will laugh up at me!

In my Heart, at my Breast

In my heart, at my breast,
You, my joy and all that’s best;
To be happy is to love
And love is happiness –
I said that and believe it. Yes.
I thought myself the happiest on earth,
But I am happier now;
For she alone who feeds
The child to whom she’s given birth,
Only she knows what the words
Love and happiness are worth.
So, I am sorry for all men who
Cannot feel as mothers do.
My dearest angel, smiling as you rest,
In my heart and at my breast,
You my joy and all that’s best.

Now, you’ve hurt me for the first time

Now, you’ve hurt me
for the first time in my life
And made me catch my breath!
You sleep, with no consideration
for your wife;
It is the sleep of death.
She, whom you have abandoned
Looks on a world that is bare.
I have loved and I have lived;
That world’s no longer there.
So I withdraw into myself,
Quietly draw down the veil;
There I will find the joy I’ve lost,
You, my whole world, without fail.

Alban Berg’s Early Songs

Reed Song

Along a secret forest path
I like to creep in the evening light;
I go to the desolate, reedy banks,
and think, my maiden, of you!

As the bushes grow dark,
the reeds hiss mysteriously,
and lament and whisper,
and thus I have to weep and weep.

And I think that I hear wafting
the gentle sound of your voice,
and down into the pond sinks
your lovely song.

The nightingale

It happened because the nightingale
sang the whole night long;
from her sweet call,
from the echo and re-echo,
roses have sprung up.

She was but recently a wild blossom,
and now she walks, deep in thought;
she carries her summer hat in her hand,
enduring quietly the heat of the sun,
knowing not what to begin.

It happened because the nightingale
sang the whole night long;
from her sweet call,
from the echo and re-echo,
roses have sprung up.

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