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Songs

Songs

Der Feuerreiter no.44


Part of a series or song cycle:

Mörike-Lieder


Der Feuerreiter

Sehet ihr am Fensterlein
Dort die rote Mütze wieder?
Nicht geheuer muß es sein,
Denn er geht schon auf und nieder.
Und auf einmal welch Gewühle
Bei der Brücke, nach dem Feld!
Horch! das Feuerglöcklein gellt:
Hinterm Berg,
Hinterm Berg
Brennt es in der Mühle!
Schaut! da sprengt er wütend schier
Durch das Tor, der Feuerreiter,
Auf dem rippendürren Tier,
Als auf einer Feuerleiter!
Querfeldein! Durch Qualm und Schwüle,
Rennt er schon und ist am Ort!
Drüben schallt es fort und fort:
Hinterm Berg,
Hinterm Berg,
Brennt es in der Mühle!
Der so oft den roten Hahn
Meilenweit von fern gerochen,
Mit des heilgen Kreuzes Span
Freventlich die Glut besprochen –
Weh! dir grinst vom Dachgestühle
Dort der Feind im Höllenschein.
Gnade Gott der Seele dein!
Hinterm Berg,
Hinterm Berg,
Rast er in der Mühle!
Keine Stunde hielt es an,
Bis die Mühle borst in Trümmer;
Doch den kecken Reitersmann
Sah man von der Stunde nimmer.
Volk und Wagen im Gewühle
Kehren heim von all dem Graus;
Auch das Glöcklein klinget aus:
Hinterm Berg,
Hinterm Berg,
Brennts! –
Nach der Zeit ein Müller fand
Ein Gerippe samt der Mützen
Aufrecht an der Kellerwand
Auf der beinern Mähre sitzen:
Feuerreiter, wie so kühle
Reitest du in deinem Grab!
Husch! da fällts in Asche ab.
Ruhe wohl,
Ruhe wohl
Drunten in der Mühle!

Fire-rider

See, at the window
There, his red cap again?
Something must be wrong,
For he’s pacing to and fro.
And all of a sudden, what a throng
At the bridge, heading for the fields!
Listen to the fire-bell shrilling:
Behind the hill,
Behind the hill
The mill’s on fire!
Look, there he gallops frenziedly
Through the gate, the fire-rider,
Straddling his skinny mount
Like a fireman’s ladder!
Across the fields! Through thick smoke and heat
He rides and has reached his goal!
The distant bell peals on and on:
Behind the hill,
Behind the hill
The mill’s on fire!
You who have often smelt a fire
From many miles away,
And blasphemously conjured the blaze
With a fragment of the True Cross –
Look out! there, grinning at you from the rafters,
Is the Devil amid the flames of hell.
God have mercy on your soul!
Behind the hill,
Behind the hill
He’s raging in the mill!
In less than an hour
The mill collapsed in rubble;
But from that hour the bold rider
Was never seen again.
Thronging crowds and carriages
Turn back home from all the horror;
And the bell stops ringing too:
Behind the hill,
Behind the hill
A fire! –
Some time after a miller found
A skeleton, complete with cap,
Upright against the cellar wall,
Mounted on the fleshless mare:
Fire-rider, how coldly
You ride in your grave!
Hush! Now it flakes into ash.
Rest in peace,
Rest in peace
Down there in the mill!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

Composer

Hugo Philipp Jacob Wolf was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin. He is particularly known for his art song, or Lieder. His Lieder display a concentrated expressive intensity unique to Wolf. 

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Poet

Eduard Friedrich Mörike was a German Romantic poet.

Mörike was born in Ludwigsburg. His father was Karl Friedrich Mörike (d. 1817), a district medical councilor; his mother was Charlotte Bayer. He attended the Latin school at Ludwigsburg, and the seminary at Urach (1818) where he made the acquaintance of Wilhelm Hartlaub and Wilhelm Waiblinger. He then studied theology at the Seminary of Tübingen where he met Ludwig Bauer, David Friedrich Strauss and F. T. Vischer.

He followed an ecclesiastical career, becoming a Lutheran pastor. In 1834 he was appointed pastor of Cleversulzbach near Weinsberg, and, after his early retirement for reasons of health, in 1851 became professor of German literature at the Katharinenstift in Stuttgart. This office he held until his retirement in 1866; but he continued to live in Stuttgart until his death. In what political and social views he espoused, he was monarchist and conservative.

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