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Songs

Songs

Der Soldat I (1887) no.5


Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte von Joseph von Eichendorff


Der Soldat I

Ist auch schmuck nicht mein Rösslein,
So ist’s doch recht klug,
Trägt im Finstern zu ’nem Schlösslein
Mich rasch noch genug.
Ist das Schloss auch nicht prächtig:
Zum Garten aus der Tür
Tritt ein Mädchen doch allnächtig
Dort freundlich herfür.
Und ist auch die Kleine
Nicht die Schönst’ auf der Welt,
So giebt’s doch just Keine,
Die mir besser gefällt.
Und spricht sie vom Freien,
So schwing’ ich mich auf mein Ross –
Ich bleibe im Freien,
Und sie auf dem Schloss.

The Soldier I

Though my little horse isn’t handsome,
He’s really rather clever,
He carries me to a little castle
Quickly enough in the dark.
Though the castle’s not palatial
From the gate into the garden
A girl steps every night
In friendly fashion.
And though the little creature
Isn’t the prettiest in the world,
There’s simply no one else
I like better.
But if she speaks of marriage,
I leap onto my horse –
I’ll stay outside and be free,
And she can stay in the castle.
Translation © 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

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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