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Der Gott und die Bajadere (1815) D254

Der Gott und die Bajadere

Mahadöh, der Herr der Erde,
Kommt herab zum sechstenmal,
Dass er uns’res gleichen werde,
Mit zu fühlen Freud’ und Qual.
Er bequemt sich hier zu wohnen,
Lässt sich alles selbst geschehn.
Soll er strafen oder schonen,
Muss er Menschen menschlich sehn.
Und hat er die Stadt sich als Wandrer betrachtet,
Die Grossen belauert, auf Kleine geachtet,
Verlässt er sie Abends, um weiter zu gehn.
Als er nun hinaus gegangen,
Wo die letzten Häuser sind,
Sieht er, mit gemalten Wangen,
Ein verlornes schönes Kind.
„Grüss’ dich, Jungfrau!“ – „Dank der Ehre!
Wart’, ich komme gleich hinaus – “
„Und wer bist du?“ – „Bajadere,
Und dies ist der Liebe Haus.“
Sie rührt sich, die Cimbeln zum Tanze du schlagen;
Sie weiss sich so lieblich im Kreise zu tragen,
Sie neigt sich und biegt sich, und reicht ihm den Strauss.
Schmeichelnd zieht sie ihn zur Schwelle,
Lebhaft ihn ins Haus hinein.
„Schöner Fremdling, lampenhelle
Soll sogleich die Hütte sein.
Bist du müd’, ich will dich laben,
Lindern deiner Füsse Schmerz.
Was du willst, das sollst du haben,
Ruhe, Freuden oder Scherz.“
Sie lindert geschäftig geheuchelte Leiden.
Der Göttliche lächelt; er siehet mit Freuden,
Durch tiefes Verderben, ein menschliches Herz.
Und er fordert Sklavendienste;
Immer heitrer wird sie nur,
Und des Mädchens frühe Künste
Werden nach und nach Natur.
Und so stellet auf die Blüte
Bald und bald die Frucht sich ein;
Ist Gehorsam im Gemüte,
Wird nicht fern die Liebe sein.
Aber, sie schärfer und schärfer zu prüfen,
Wählet der Kenner der Höhen und Tiefen
Lust und Entsetzen und grimmige Pein.
Und er küsst die bunten Wangen,
Und sie fühlt der Liebe Qual,
Und das Mädchen steht gefangen,
Und sie weint zum erstenmal;
Sinkt zu seinen Füssen nieder,
Nicht um Wollust noch Gewinnst,
Ach! die gelenken Glieder,
Sie versagen allen Dienst.
Und so zu des Lagers vergnüglicher Feier
Bereiten den dunklen behaglichen Schleier
Die nächtlichen Stunden, das schöne Gespinst.
Spät entschlummert, unter Scherzen,
Früh erwacht, nach kurzer Rast,
Findet sie an ihrem Herzen
Tod den vielgeliebten Gast.
Schreiend stürzt sie auf ihn nieder;
Aber nicht erweckt sie ihn,
Und man trägt die starren Glieder
Bald zur Flammengrube hin.
Sie höret die Priester, die Totengesänge,
Sie raset und rennet, und teilet die Menge.
„Wer bist du? was drängt zu der Grube dich hin?“
Bei der Bahre stürzt sie nieder,
Ihr Geschrei durchdringt die Luft:
„Meinen Gatten will ich wieder!
Und ich such’ ihn in der Gruft.
Soll zur Asche mir zerfallen
Dieser Glieder Götterpracht?
Mein! er war es, mein vor allen!
Ach, nur eine süsse Nacht!“
Es singen die Priester: „Wir tragen die Alten,
Nach langem Ermatten und spätem Erkalten,
Wir tragen die Jugend, noch eh’ sie’s gedacht.
„Höre deiner Priester Lehre:
Dieser war dein Gatte nicht.
Lebst du doch als Bajadere,
Und so hast du keine Pflicht.
Nur dem Körper folgt der Schatten
In das stille Totenreich;
Nur die Gattin folgt dem Gatten:
Das ist Pflicht und Ruhm zugleich.
Ertöne, Drommete, zu heiliger Klage!
O, nehmet, ihr Götter! die Zierde der Tage,
O, nehmet den Jüngling in Flammen zu euch!“
So das Chor, das ohn’ Erbarmen
Mehret ihres Herzens Not;
Und mit ausgestreckten Armen
Springt sie in den heissen Tod.
Doch der Götter-Jüngling hebet
Aus der Flamme sich empor,
Und in seinen Armen schwebet
Die Geliebte mit hervor.
Es freut sich die Gottheit der reuigen Sünder;
Unsterbliche heben verlorene Kinder
Mit feurigen Armen zum Himmel empor.

The God and the Dancing

Mahadeva, Lord of the Earth,
descends a sixth time
that he might become one of us
and with us feel joy and sorrow.
He deigns to dwell here
and experience all things himself.
If he is to punish or forgive
he must see mortals as a mortal.
And having viewed the town in the guise of
a traveller watching the great, observing the lowly,
he leaves it in the evening to journey onwards.
When he had walked out
to where the last houses are,
he encounters a lovely, forlorn girl
with painted cheeks.
‘Greetings to you, maiden!’ – ‘I thank you for
this honour! Wait, I shall come straight out.’
‘And who are you?’ – ‘A dancing-girl,
and this is the house of love.’ She hastens
to begin the dance with a clash of cymbals.
She knows how to circle round so charmingly;
she dips and turns, and hands him a posy.
She coaxes him to the threshold
and vivaciously draws him into the house.
‘Fair stranger, this humble abode
shall at once be bright with lamplight.
If you are weary, I shall refresh you,
and soothe your sore feet.
You shall have whatever you desire:
rest, pleasure or play.’
Assiduously she soothes his feigned pains.
The immortal smiles; joyfully he beholds,
through her deep corruption, a human heart.
And he demands that she serve him like a slave
But this only makes her happier,
And the girl’s early-acquired arts
Gradually become nature.
And thus the fruit appears
Soon after the blossom;
If the heart is obedient
Love will not be far off.
But in order to test her ever more keenly
He who knows both the heights and the depths
Chooses pleasure, but also horror and cruel pain.
And he kisses her brightly painted cheeks
And she feels love’s anguish:
And the girl stands captive
And weeps for the first time;
She sinks down at his feet,
Desiring neither pleasure nor reward.
And alas, her supple limbs
Deny their service.
And thus, for the bed’s pleasurable ceremony
The nocturnal hours fashion from lovely gossamer
A dark, comforting veil.
Falling asleep late while dallying,
waking early after brief rest,
she finds the beloved guest
dead at her side.
Screaming, she falls upon him,
but she cannot revive him.
And soon his rigid limbs
are borne to the funeral pyre.
She hears the priests and the funeral chants;
in her frenzy she rushes and pierces the crowd.
‘Who are you? What drives you to this grave?’
y the bier she throws herself down,
and her cries echo through the air:
‘I want my husband back!
And I shall seek him in the tomb.
Shall these limbs in their divine glory
fall to ashes before me?
He was mine, mine alone,
alas, for but one sweet night!’
The priests chant: ‘We bear away the old,
for long exhausted, lately grown cold;
we bear away the young sooner than they imagine.
‘Hear the teaching of your priests:
this man was not your husband.
For you live as a dancing-girl,
and thus you know no duty.
The body is followed only by its shadow
into the silent kingdom of death.
Only the wife follows the husband;
that is at once her duty and her glory.
Sound, trumpet, in sacred mourning!
Take, O gods, the flower of his days,
take the youth to you in flames!’
Thus chants the choir, mercilessly
deepening the pain within her heart.
And with outstretched arms
she leaps into the burning death.
But the divine youth rises up
from the pyre
and his beloved soars aloft
in his arms.
The godhead rejoices in penitent sinners;
with arms of fire immortals raise
lost children up to heaven.

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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 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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