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Greisengesang (1823) D778


Der Frost hat mir bereifet des Hauses Dach;
Doch warm ist mir’s geblieben im Wohngemach.
Der Winter hat die Scheitel mir weiss gedeckt;
Doch fliesst das Blut, das rote, durchs Herzgemach.
Der Jugendflor der Wangen, die Rosen sind
Gegangen, all gegangen Einander nach –
Wo sind sie hingegangen? ins Herz hinab:
Da blühn sie nach Verlangen, wie vor so nach.
Sind alle Freudenströme der Welt versiegt?
Noch fliesst mir durch den Busen ein stiller Bach.
Sind alle Nachtigallen der Flur verstummt?
Noch ist bei mir im Stillen hier eine wach.
Sie singet: „Herr des Hauses! verschleuss dein Tor,
Dass nicht die Welt, die kalte, dring ins Gemach.
Schleuss aus den rauhen Odem der Wirklichkeit,
Und nur dem Duft der Träume gib Dach und Fach!“

Song of old age

The frost has covered the roof of my house,
but I have kept warm in my living-room.
Winter has whitened the top of my head,
but the blood flows red in my heart.
The youthful flush of my cheeks, the roses
have gone, one by one.
Where have they gone? Down into my heart;
there, as before, they bloom as desired.
Have all the rivers of joy in this world run dry?
A silent stream still flows through my breast.
Have all the nightingales in the meadows fallen
silent? Within me, secretly, one still stirs.
She sings: ‘Master of the house, bolt your door
lest the cold world should penetrate the parlour.
Shut out the harsh breath of reality
and give shelter only to the fragrance of dreams!’

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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 Rückert was a German poet, translator, and professor of Oriental languages.

Rückert was born at Schweinfurt and was the eldest son of a lawyer. He was educated at the local Gymnasium and at the universities of Würzburg and Heidelberg. From 1816–1817, he worked on the editorial staff of the Morgenblatt at Stuttgart. Nearly the whole of the year 1818 he spent in Rome, and afterwards he lived for several years at Coburg (1820–1826). Rückert married Luise Wiethaus-Fischer there in 1821. He was appointed a professor of Oriental languages at the University of Erlangen in 1826, and, in 1841, he was called to a similar position in Berlin, where he was also made a privy councillor. In 1849 he resigned his professorship at Berlin, and went to live full-time in his Gut (estate) at Neuses (now a part of Coburg).

When Rückert began his literary career, Germany was engaged in her life-and-death struggle with Napoleon; and in his first volume, Deutsche Gedichte (German Poems), published in 1814 under the pseudonym Freimund Raimar, he gave, particularly in the powerful Geharnischte Sonette (Sonnets in Arms/Harsh Words), vigorous expression to the prevailing sentiment of his countrymen. During 1815 to 1818 appeared Napoleon, eine politische Komödie in drei Stücken (Napoleon, a Political Comedy in Three Parts) of which only two parts were published; and in 1817 Der Kranz der Zeit (The Wreath of Time).

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