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Hab' ich den noch je beraten (1918) Op. 67

Part of a series or song cycle:

Drei Lieder “Aus den Büchern des Unmuts Rendsch Nameh” (Op. 67)

Hab' ich den noch je beraten

Hab' ich euch denn je geraten,
Wie ihr Kriege führen solltet?
Schalt ich euch, nach euren Taten,
Wenn ihr Frieden schließen wolltet?
Und so hab' ich auch den Fischer
Ruhig sehen Netze werfen,
Brauchte dem gewandten Tischler
Winkelmaß nicht einzuschärfen.
Aber ihr wollt besser wissen,
Was ich weiß, da ich bedachte,
Was Natur, für mich beflissen,
Schon zu meinem Eigen machte.
Fühlt ihr auch dergleichen Stärke?
Nun, so fördert eure Sachen!
Seht ihr aber meine Werke,
Lernet erst: so wollt' er's machen.

Have I ever advised you

Have I ever advised you
How to wage your battles?
Did I scold you after your deeds
When you wanted to make peace?
Thus have I also seen the fisherman
Peacefully casting his nets,
Never needed to impress on the skilled carpenter
How to use his protractor.
But you think you know better
The things I know – having pondered
What nature, eager on my behalf,
Has already made my own.
Do you feel the same strength?
Well then, look after yourself!
But if you look on my works,
Learn first: that’s the way he wanted it.
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 Wolfgang Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him exist. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, Goethe was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August in 1782 after first taking up residence there in November 1775 following the success of his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. He was an early participant in the Sturm und Drang literary movement. During his first ten years in Weimar, Goethe served as a member of the Duke's privy council, sat on the war and highway commissions, oversaw the reopening of silver mines in nearby Ilmenau, and implemented a series of administrative reforms at the University of Jena. He also contributed to the planning of Weimar's botanical park and the rebuilding of its Ducal Palace, which in 1998 were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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