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Songs

Songs

Die Nacht (1880) no.19


Part of a series or song cycle:

Gedichte von Joseph von Eichendorff


Die Nacht

Nacht ist wie ein stilles Meer,
Lust und Leid und Liebesklagen
Kommen so verworren her
In dem linden Wellenschlagen.
Wünsche wie die Wolken sind,
Schiffen durch die stillen Räume,
Wer erkennt im lauen Wind,
Ob’s Gedanken oder Träume? -
Schliess’ ich nun auch Herz und Mund,
Die so gern den Sternen klagen,
Leise doch im Herzensgrund
Bleibt das linde Wellenschlagen.

Night

Night is like a silent sea,
Joy and pain and lover’s laments
Mingle in such confusion
In the gently lapping waves.
Wishes are like clouds,
Sailing through the silent space,
Who can tell in the warm breeze
If they be thoughts of dreams?
Though I now close my heart and lips
That love lamenting to the stars:
Still in the depths of my heart,
The waves pulse gently on.
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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