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Der Kampf (1817) D594

Der Kampf

Nein, länger werd’ ich diesen Kampf nicht kämpfen,
Den Riesenkampf der Pflicht.
Kannst du des Herzens Flammentrieb nicht dämpfen,
So fordre, Tugend, dieses Opfer nicht.
Geschworen hab ich’s, ja, ich hab’s geschworen,
Mich selbst zu bändigen.
Hier ist dein Kranz, er sei auf ewig mir verloren,
Nimm ihn zurück und lass mich sündigen!
Zerrissen sei, was wir bedungen haben;
Sie liebt mich – deine Krone sei verscherzt!
Glückselig, wer, in Wonnetrunkenheit begraben,
So leicht wie ich den tiefen Fall verschmerzt.
Sie sieht den Wurm an meiner Jugend Blume nagen
Und meinen Lenz entfloh’n;
Bewundert still mein heldenmütiges Entsagen,
Und grossmutsvoll beschliesst sie meinen Lohn.
Misstraue, schöne Seele, dieser Engelgüte!
Dein Mitleid waffnet zum Verbrechen mich.
Gibt’s in des Lebens unermesslichem Gebiete,
Gibt’s einen andern schönern Lohn – als dich?
Als das Verbrechen, das ich ewig fliehen wollte?
Tyrannisches Geschick!
Der einz’ge Lohn, der meine Tugend krönen sollte,
Ist meiner Tugend letzter Augenblick!

The Battle

No! I shall fight this battle no longer,
this mighty battle of duty.
If you cannot cool the fierce ardour within my heart,
then, Virtue, do not demand this sacrifice.
I took a vow, yes, I took a vow
to master myself.
Here is your crown; let it be lost to me for ever.
Take it back and let me sin.
Let us tear up the bond we have made:
she loves me – your crown shall be forfeit.
Happy he who, drunk with ecstasy,
takes his precipitous fall as lightly as I.
She sees the worm gnawing at the flower of my youth;
she sees the spring of my life slip by;
she silently admires my heroic renunciation,
and generously decides on my reward.
Fair soul, distrust this angelic kindness!
Your compassion armed me for my crime.
Is there in life’s vast realm
a fairer reward than you?
Than the crime which I sought to flee for ever?
Tyrannical fate!
The sole reward which was to crown my virtue
is my virtue’s final moment.

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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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Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with the already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism. They also worked together on Xenien, a collection of short satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe challenge opponents to their philosophical vision.

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