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Rückkehr no.5

Part of a series or song cycle:

Nachgelassene Lieder (Eichendorff)


Mit meinem Saitenspiele,
Das schön geklungen hat,
Komm’ ich durch Länder viele
Zurück in diese Stadt.
Ich ziehe durch die Gassen,
So finster ist die Nacht
Und alles so verlassen,
Hatt’ ’s anders mir gedacht.
Am Brunnen steh’ ich lange,
Der rauscht fort, wie vorher,
Kommt mancher wohl gegangen,
Es kennt mich keiner mehr.
Da hört ich geigen, pfeifen,
Die Fenster glänzten weit,
Dazwischen drehn und schleifen
Viel’ fremde, fröhliche Leut’.
Und Herz und Sinn mir brannten,
Mich trieb’s in die weite Welt,
Es spielten die Musikanten,
Da fiel ich hin im Feld.


Playing my lute
That has made such lovely music,
I pass through many lands,
Returning to this town.
I make my way through its streets,
The night is so dark
And all is so deserted,
Different to what I expected.
Long I stand by the fountain
That murmurs away, as in the past,
Many people drift by me,
No one knows me any more.
Then I heard fiddling, piping,
Wide windows were gleaming,
Many happy strangers
Whirl and twirl.
My heart and mind burned within me,
Out into the wide world I went,
The fiddlers played their music,
I fell to the ground in the field.
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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Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff was a German poet, novelist, playwright, literary critic, translator, and anthologist. Eichendorff was one of the major writers and critics of Romanticism. Ever since their publication and up to the present day, some of his works have been very popular in Germany.

Eichendorff first became famous for his novella Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing) and his poems. The Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing, a typical romantic novella, whose main themes are wanderlust and love. The protagonist, the son of a miller, rejects his father's trade and becomes a gardener at a Viennese palace where he subsequently falls in love with the local duke's daughter. As, with his lowly status, she is unattainable for him, he escapes to Italy - only to return and learn that she is the duke's adopted daughter, and thus within his social reach. With its combination of dream world and realism, Memoirs of a Good-For-Nothing is considered to be a high point of Romantic fiction. One critic stated that "Eichendorff’s 'Good-For-Nothing' is the "personification of love of nature and an obsession with hiking." Thomas Mann called Eichendorff's Good-For-Nothing a combination of "the purity of the folk song and the fairy tale."

Many of Eichendorff's poems were first published as integral parts of his novellas and stories, where they are often performed in song by one of the protagonists. The novella Good-For-Nothing alone contains 54 poems.

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