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Lied aus der Ferne (1814) D107

Lied aus der Ferne

Wenn, in des Abends letztem Scheine,
Dir eine lächelnde Gestalt,
Am Rasensitz im Eichenhaine,
Mit Wink und Gruss vorüber wallt,
Das ist des Freundes treuer Geist,
Der Freud’ und Frieden dir verheisst.
Fühlst du, beim seligen Verlieren
In des Vergangnen Zauberland,
Ein lindes, geistiges Berühren,
Wie Zephyrs Kuss an Lipp’ und Hand,
Und wankt der Kerze flatternd Licht:
Das ist mein Geist, o zweifle nicht!
Hörst du, beim Silberglanz der Sterne,
Leis’ im verschwiegnen Kämmerlein,
Gleich Aeolsharfen aus der Ferne,
Das Bundeswort: Auf ewig dein!
Dann schlummre sanft; es ist mein Geist,
Der Freud’ und Frieden dir verheisst.

Song from afar

When in the dying light of evening,
as you sit on the sward in the oak grove,
a smiling figure passes you,
waving a greeting,
that is the faithful spirit of your friend,
promising you joy and peace.
If, lost in blissful contemplation
of the magic realm of the past,
you feel a gentle, unearthly touch
like the kiss of Zephyr on your lips and hands,
and if the wavering candlelight flickers:
that is my spirit, do not doubt it!
If, by the silver light of the stars,
in your secret chamber
you hear, like soft, distant aeolian harps,
the words of our bond: forever yours!
Then sleep sweetly; it is my spirit
that promises you joy and peace.

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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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Friedrich von Matthisson was a German poet, an early member of the German Romantic movement. His best known poem is probably Adelaide, which was set to music by Beethoven.

He was born at Hohendodeleben near Magdeburg, the son of the village pastor, on the 23rd of January 1761. After studying theology and philology at the university of Halle, he was appointed in 1781 master at the classical school Philanthropinum in Dessau. This once famous seminary was, however, then rapidly decaying in public favor, and in 1784 Matthisson was glad to accept a travelling tutorship. He lived for two years with the Swiss author Bonstetten at Nyon on Lake Geneva.

In 1794 he was appointed reader and traveling companion to Princess Louisa of Anhalt-Dessau (wife of Leopold III, Duke of Anhalt-Dessau). They visited Switzerland, Tyrol, and Italy. For a time, they were joined in their travels by Danish author and salonist Friederike Brun. After Princess Louisa's death in 1811, he entered the service of the king of Württemberg, was ennobled, created counselor of legation, appointed intendant of the court theatre and chief librarian of the royal library at Stuttgart. He resided for a time in Italy. In 1828 he retired and settled at Wörlitz near Dessau, where he died on the 12th of March 1831.

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