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Die Ulme zu Hirsau (1899) Op. 43 no.3

Die Ulme zu Hirsau

Zu Hirsau in den Trümmern
Da wiegt ein Ulmenbaum
Frischgrünend seine Krone
Hoch überm Giebelsaum.
Er wurzelt tief im Grunde
Vom alten Klosterbau;
Er wölbt sich statt des Daches
Hinaus in Himmelsblau.
Weil des Gemäuers Enge
Ihm Luft und Sonne nahm,
So triebs ihn hoch und höher,
Bis er zum Lichte kam.
Es ragen die vier Wände,
Als ob sie nur bestimmt,
Den kühnen Wuchs zu schirmen,
Der zu den Wolken klimmt.
Wenn dort im grünen Tale
Ich einsam mich erging,
Die Ulme wars, die hehre,
Woran mein Sinnen hing.
Wenn in dem dumpfen, stummen
Getrümmer ich gelauscht,
Da hat ihr reger Wipfel
Im Windesflug gerauscht.
Ich sah ihn oft erglühen
Im ersten Morgenstrahl;
Ich sah ihn noch erleuchtet,
Wenn schattig rings das Tal.
Zu Wittenberg im Kloster
Wuchs auch ein solcher Strauß
Und brach mit Riesenästen
Zum Klausendach hinaus.
O Strahl des Lichts, du dringest
Hinab in jede Gruft.
O Geist der Welt, du ringest
Hinauf in Licht und Luft.

The elm tree at Hirsau

At Hirsau, in the ruins,
An elm tree sways
Its freshly greening canopy
High above the gable.
Its roots strike deep in the foundations
Of the old monastery;
It spreads its branches, as a roof,
Up into the blue sky.
Because the constricting ruin
Deprived it of air and sun,
It soared higher and higher
Until it reached the light.
The four walls reach up,
As if they were destined
To protect the bold tree
That climbed to the clouds.
Whenever in the green valley
I strolled in solitude,
It was the noble elm
That occupied my thoughts.
Whenever I hearkened
In the mouldering silent ruins,
The stirring tree-top
Rustled in the wind.
I often saw it glowing
In the first rays of dawn;
I saw it still gleaming brightly
When the valley around grew dark.
In the monastery at Wittenberg
Another such tree grew,
Whose gigantic branches
Forced their way through the study’s roof.
O ray of light, you force your way
Into every deep vault.
O spirit of the world, you struggle
Aloft to find light and air.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Richard Georg Strauss was a German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is particularly well-known for his operas, Lieder, and tone poems. 

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Johann Ludwig Uhland, was a German poet, philologist and literary historian.
He was born in Tübingen, Württemberg, and studied jurisprudence at the university there, but also took an interest in medieval literature, especially old German and French poetry. Having graduated as a doctor of laws in 1810, he went to Paris for eight months to continue his studies of poetry; and from 1812 to 1814 he worked as a lawyer in Stuttgart, in the bureau of the minister of justice.

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