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Seemanns Abschied no.17

Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte von Joseph von Eichendorff

Seemanns Abschied

Ade, mein Schatz, du mocht’st mich nicht,
Ich war dir zu geringe.
Einst wandelst du bei Mondenlicht 
Und hörst ein süsses Klingen:
Ein Meerweib singt, die Nacht ist lau,
Die stillen Wolken wandern,
Da denk’ an mich, ’s ist meine Frau,
Nun such’ dir einen Andern!
Ade, ihr Landsknecht’, Musketier’!
Wir zieh’n auf wildem Rosse,
Das bäumt und überschlägt sich schier
Vor manchem Felsenschlosse.
Der Wassermann bei Blitzesschein
Taucht auf in dunklen Nächten,
Der Haifisch schnappt, die Möven schrei’n –
Das ist ein lustig Fechten!
Streckt nur auf eurer Bärenhaut
Daheim die faulen Glieder,
Gott Vater aus dem Fenster schaut,
Schickt seine Sündflut wieder!
Feldwebel, Reiter, Musketier,
Sie müssen all’ ersaufen,
Derweil mit frischem Winde wir
Im Paradies einlaufen.

Sailor's farewell

Farewell, my sweet, you never loved me,
I was too lowly for you.
One night you’ll wander by moonlight
And hear sweet music.
A mermaid’s singing, the night is mild,
The silent clouds drift by.
Then think of me, it’s my mermaid wife,
Now find yourself another!
Farewell, you troopers, musketeers!
We ride on a wild horse
That rears and almost somersaults
Before many a mountain castle.
The merman, lit by lightning,
Looms up on dark nights,
The hark snaps, the gull shrieks –
What a merry skirmish!
Just stretch out your lazy limbs
On your bearskin rug at home,
God the Father looks out of His window
And sends a second flood,
Sergeants, horsemen, musketeers,
All will have to drown,
While we, before a brisk wind,
Sail into Paradise.
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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