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Songs

Songs

Am See (1814) D124

Am See

Sitz’ ich im Gras am glatten See, 
Beschleicht die Seele süsses Weh, 
Wie Äolsharfen klingt mich an 
Ein unnennbarer Zauberwahn.
Das Schilfrohr neiget seufzend sich, 
Die Uferblumen grüssen mich,
Der Vogel klagt, die Lüfte wehn,
Vor Schmerzeslust möcht’ ich vergehn!
Wie mir das Leben kräftig quillt 
Und sich in raschen Strömen spielt. 
Wie’s bald in trüben Massen gärt 
Und bald zum Spiegel sich verklärt.
Bewusstsein meiner tiefsten Kraft, 
Ein Wonnemeer in mir erschafft. 
Ich stürze kühn in seine Flut
Und ringe um das höchste Gut.
O Leben, bist so himmlisch schön,
In deinen Tiefen, in deinen Höh’n!
Dein freundlich Licht soll ich nicht sehn, 
Den finstern Pfad des Orkus gehn?
Doch bist du mir das Höchste nicht, 
Drum opfr’ ich freudig dich der Pflicht; 
Ein Strahlenbild schwebt mir voran, 
Und mutig wag’ ich’s Leben dran!
Das Strahlenbild ist oft getränkt, 
Wenn es durch meinen Busen brennt, 
Die Tränen weg wom Wangenrot,
Und dann in tausendfachen Tod.
Du warst so menschlich, warst so hold, 
O grosser deutscher Leopold,
Die Menschheit fühlte dich so ganz 
Und reichte dir den Opferkranz.
Und hehr geschmückt sprangst du hinab, 
Für Menschen in das Wellengrab.
Vor dir erbleicht, o Fürstensohn, 
Thermopylae und Marathon.
Das Schilfrohr neiget seufzend sich, 
Die Uferblumen grüssen mich,
Der Vogel klagt, die Lüfte wehn,
Vor Schmerzeslust möcht’ ich vergehn. 

By the lake

When I sit in the grass by the smooth lake, 
sweet sorrow steals through my soul;
as if by Aeolian harps, I am moved
by nameless magical sounds.
The bulrushes bow, sighing;
the flowers on the bank greet me; 
a bird laments, breezes blow.
I would die of sweet grief!
How vigorously life flows around me, 
playing in rapid currents,
now fermenting in a dark mass,
and now as bright as a mirror.
An awareness of my deepest powers 
creates waves of joy within me.
I plunge boldly into the waters
and strive for the highest good.
O life, you are so celestially beautiful, 
in your depths and your peaks!
Shall I not see your fair light;
shall I follow the black course to Hades?
Yet you are not my highest ideal, 
and I joyfully sacrifice you to duty.
A radiant image draws me onwards; 
for it I will bravely risk my life.
This radiant image is often moist, 
when through my heart it burns away 
the tears from my red cheeks,
as I die a thousand deaths.
You were so humane, so gracious,
so great a German, Leopold;
mankind felt your goodness to the full, 
and handed you the sacrificial wreath.
Nobly adorned, you leapt down,
for men’s sake, to death in the waves.
Son of princes,
Thermopylae and Marathon pale before you.
The bulrushes bow, sighing;
the flowers on the bank greet me; 
a bird laments, breezes blow.
I would die of sweet grief.

Composer

Franz Peter Schubert was an late Classical and early Romantic composer. He produced a vast oeuvre during his short life, composing more the 600 vocal works (largely Lieder), and well as several symphonies, operas, and a large body of piano music. He was uncommonly gifted from a young age, but appreciation of his music was limited during his lifetime. His work became more popular in the decades after his death, and was praised by 19th century composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.

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Poet

Johann Baptist Mayrhofer , was an Austrian poet and librettist. He is best known for his close friendship with the composer Franz Schubert.

Mayrhofer was born in Steyr, educated and Novitiate in St. Florian's Priory Upper Austria. In 1810 he began to study Jurisprudence and Theology at the University of Vienna, both of which courses he finished. In 1814 he met the young composer Franz Schubert and his friends (Joseph von Spaun, Franz von Schober).

Mayrhofer wrote a lot of lyric poetry and published it in 1824.

47 Schubert songs and two of his operas are based on Mayrhofer’s lyric poems.

As a young man Mayrhofer had been hopelessly in love with Mina (Wilhelmina Watteroth), the daughter of Heinrich Watteroth, who was one of Mayrhofer's professors and for a short time also his landlord. In his late years Mayrhofer (like Schubert) fell in love with a young 15-year-old girl, the daughter of his landlord Doctor Strauss. Mayrhofer, who had been a hypochondriac all his life, committed suicide by jumping from the window of his office in Vienna.

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