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Lieber alles no.11

Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte von Joseph von Eichendorff

Lieber alles

Soldat sein ist gefährlich, 
Studieren sehr beschwerlich,
Das Dichten süss und zierlich,
Der Dichter gar possierlich
In diesen wilden Zeiten.
Ich möcht’ am liebsten reiten,
Ein gutes Schwert zur Seiten,
Die Laute in der Rechten,
Studentenherz zum Fechten.
Ein wildes Ross ist’s Leben,
Die Hufe Funken geben,
Eer’s ehrlich wagt, bezwingt es,
Und wo es tritt, da klingt es!

Sooner all three

Soldiering’s dangerous,
Studying’s most arduous,
Poetry’s sweet and graceful,
The poet’s a figure of fun
In these barbarous times.
Most of all I’d like to ride,
A good sword at my side,
A lute in my right hand,
With a student’s heart for the fight.
Life’s an untamed steed,
Its hooves strike sparks,
The truly bold man will tame it,
And where it treads it resounds!
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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