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An die Sterne (1849) Op. 141 no.1


Part of a series or song cycle:

Vier Doppelchörige Gesänge (Op. 141)


An die Sterne

Sterne,
In des Himmels Ferne!
Die mit Strahlen bessrer Welt
Ihr die Erdendämmrung hellt;
Schaun nicht Geisteraugen
Von euch erdenwärts,
Dass sie Frieden hauchen
Ins umwölkte Herz?
Sterne,
ln des Himmels Ferne!
Träumt sich auch in jenem Raum
Eines Lebens flücht’ger Traum?
Hebt Entzücken, Wonne,
Trauer, Wehmut, Schmerz,
Jenseit unsrer Sonne
Auch ein fühlend Herz?
Sterne,
In des Himmels Ferne!
Winkt ihr nicht schon Himmelsruh
Mir aus euren Fernen zu?
Wird nicht einst dem Müden
Auf den goldnen Au’n
Ungetrübter Frieden
In die Seele taun?
Sterne,
In des Himmels Ferne!
Bis mein Geist den Fittich hebt
Und zu eurem Frieden schwebt,
Hang’ an euch mein Sehnen
Hoffend, glaubevoll!
O, ihr holden, schönen,
Könnt ihr täuschen wohl?

To the stars

Stars,
In distant heaven!
Who brighten with rays of a better world
Earth’s twilight;
Do not your spectral eyes
Gaze down on earth,
Breathing peace
Into the darkened heart?
Stars,
In distant heaven!
Does not life’s fleeting dream
Also dream up there in space?
Does not rapture, bliss,
Sadness, gloom, pain,
Beyond our sun
Also revive a feeling heart?
Stars,
In distant heaven!
Do you not promise me heavenly peace
From your distant realm?
Will not unalloyed peace
One day thaw the hearts of the weary
On the golden meadows?
Stars,
In distant heaven!
Till my spirit spreads its wings
And soars to your peace,
May my longing cling to you,
Full of hope and faith!
O kind and beautiful stars,
Could you ever lead astray?
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Poet

Friedrich Rückert was a German poet, translator, and professor of Oriental languages.

Rückert was born at Schweinfurt and was the eldest son of a lawyer. He was educated at the local Gymnasium and at the universities of Würzburg and Heidelberg. From 1816–1817, he worked on the editorial staff of the Morgenblatt at Stuttgart. Nearly the whole of the year 1818 he spent in Rome, and afterwards he lived for several years at Coburg (1820–1826). Rückert married Luise Wiethaus-Fischer there in 1821. He was appointed a professor of Oriental languages at the University of Erlangen in 1826, and, in 1841, he was called to a similar position in Berlin, where he was also made a privy councillor. In 1849 he resigned his professorship at Berlin, and went to live full-time in his Gut (estate) at Neuses (now a part of Coburg).

When Rückert began his literary career, Germany was engaged in her life-and-death struggle with Napoleon; and in his first volume, Deutsche Gedichte (German Poems), published in 1814 under the pseudonym Freimund Raimar, he gave, particularly in the powerful Geharnischte Sonette (Sonnets in Arms/Harsh Words), vigorous expression to the prevailing sentiment of his countrymen. During 1815 to 1818 appeared Napoleon, eine politische Komödie in drei Stücken (Napoleon, a Political Comedy in Three Parts) of which only two parts were published; and in 1817 Der Kranz der Zeit (The Wreath of Time).

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