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Die Geister am Mummelsee (1888) no.47

Part of a series or song cycle:


Die Geister am Mummelsee

Vom Berge was kommt dort um Mitternacht spät
Mit Fackeln so prächtig herunter?
Ob das wohl zum Tanze, zum Feste noch geht?
Mir klingen die Lieder so munter.
O nein!
So sage, was mag es wohl sein?
Das, was du da siehest, ist Totengeleit,
Und was du da hörest, sind Klagen.
Dem König, dem Zauberer, gilt es zu Leid,
Sie bringen ihn wieder getragen.
O weh!
So sind es die Geister vom See!
Sie schweben herunter ins Mummelseetal –
Sie haben den See schon betreten –
Sie rühren und netzen den Fuss nicht einmal –
Sie schwirren in leisen Gebeten –
O schau,
Am Sarge die glänzende Frau!
Jetzt öffnet der See das grünspiegelnde Tor;
Gib acht, nun tauchen sie nieder!
Es schwankt eine lebende Treppe hervor,
Und – drunten schon summen die Lieder.
Hörst du?
Sie singen ihn unten zur Ruh.
Die Wasser, wie lieblich sie brennen und glühn!
Sie spielen in grünendem Feuer;
Es geisten die Nebel am Ufer dahin,
Zum Meere verzieht sich der Weiher –
Nur still!
Ob dort sich nichts rühren will?
Es zuckt in der Mitten – o Himmel! ach hilf!
Nun kommen sie wieder, sie kommen!
Es orgelt im Rohr und es klirret im Schilf;
Nur hurtig, die Flucht nur genommen!
Sie wittern, sie haschen mich schon!

Ghosts on Mummelsee

What’s this winding down the mountain at midnight
With torches and such splendour?
Can they be going to a ball or banquet?
Their singing sounds so joyful.
Oh no!
Then tell me what it can be?
What you see is a funeral procession,
And what you hear are laments.
They are mourning the king, the sorcerer,
They are bearing him back down again.
Oh mercy!
They must be the ghosts of the lake!
They’re gliding down to the Mummel valley –
Already they’ve alighted on the lake –
They neither move nor even wet their feet –
They whirr their wings while murmuring prayers –
Oh look,
There by the coffin the glistening woman!
The lake now opens its mirror-green doors;
Look out, already they’re diving down!
A living, wavering staircase rises,
And down in the depths they’re droning songs.
Can you hear?
They’re singing him to rest below.
How sweetly the waters burn and glow!
Their fire flickers green as they dance;
The mists are swirling around the shore,
The lake vanishes into the sea –
Hush now!
Will nothing ever move there again?
A swirl in the middle – O heavens! ah help!
The ghosts – they’re coming again!
There’s a roar in the reeds and a wind in the rushes;
Quick now, run, take flight!
They’ve caught my scent, they’re catching me!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)


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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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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