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Die drei Schwestern (1910)


Part of a series or song cycle:

6 Gesänge nach Gedichten von Maurice Maeterlinck (Op 13 )


Die drei Schwestern

Die drei Schwestern wollten sterben,
Setzten auf die güldnen Kronen,
Gingen sich den Tod zu holen.
Wähnten ihn im Walde wohnen:
„Wald, so gib uns, dass wir sterben,
Sollst drei güldne Kronen erben.“
Da begann der Wald zu lachen
Und mit einem Dutzend Küssen
Liess er sie die Zukunft wissen.
Die drei Schwestern wollten sterben,
Wähnten Tod im Meer zu finden,
Pilgerten drei Jahre lang.
„Meer, so gib uns, dass wir sterben,
Sollst drei güldne Kronen erben.“
Da begann das Meer zu weinen,
Liess mir dreimal hundert Küssen
Die Vergangenheit sie wissen.
Die drei Schwestern wollten sterben,
Lenkten nach der Stadt die Schritte;
Lag auf einer Insel Mitte.
„Stadt, so gib uns, dass wir sterben,
Sollst drei güldne Kronen erben.“
Und die Stadt tat auf die Tore
Und mit heissen Liebesküssen
Liess die Gegenwart sie wissen.

The Three Sisters

The three sisters wished to die,
Put on their golden crowns,
Went out to discover death.
Imagined he dwelt in the forest:
‘Forest, if you permit us to die,
You shall inherit three golden crowns.’
At which the forest began to laugh,
And with a dozen kisses
Revealed to them the future.
The three sisters wished to die,
Imagined they’d find death in the sea,
Pilgrimaged for three years.
‘Sea, if you permit us to die,
You shall inherit three golden crowns.’
At which the sea began to weep,
And with three hundred kisses
Revealed to them the past.
The three sisters wished to die,
Made their way towards a town
In the middle of an island.
‘Town, if you permit us todie,
You shall inherit three golden crowns.’
And the town opened its gates,
And with passionate, loving kisses
Revealed to them the present.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Alexander Zemlinsky or Alexander von Zemlinsky was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher.

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Poet

Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who was a Fleming, but wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911 "in appreciation of his many-sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers' own feelings and stimulate their imaginations". The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life. His plays form an important part of the Symbolist movement.

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