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Der verzweifelte Liebhaber no.14

Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte von Joseph von Eichendorff

Der verzweifelte Liebhaber

Studieren will nichts bringen,
Mein Rock hält keinen Stich,
Meine Zither will nicht klingen,
Mein Schatz, der mag mich nicht.
Ich wollt’, im Grün spazierte
Die allerschönste Frau,
Ich wär’ ein Drach’ und führte
Sie mit mir fort durchs Blau.
Ich wollt’, ich jagt’ gerüstet
Und legt’ die Lanze aus,
Und jagte alle Philister
Zur schönen Welt hinaus.
Ich wollt’, ich läg’ jetztunder
Im Himmel still und weit
Und fragt’ nach all’ dem Plunder
Nichts vor Zufriedenheit.

The despairing lover

Studying’s unprofitable,
My coat’s all unstitched,
My zither won’t sound
My sweetheart doesn’t love me.
I wish the fairest of women
Were walking in the fields,
And I were a kite to bear
Her off into the blue.
I wish I were armed for the hunt
To chase with couched lance
Every Philistine
Out of sight.
I wish I were now lying
In Heaven’s silent spaces,
Enquiring nothing of such rubbish,
Filled with content.
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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