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Verklärung (1813) D59


Lebensfunke, vom Himmel entglüht,
Der sich loszuwinden müht!
Zitternd-kühn, vor Sehnen leidend,
Gern und doch mit Schmerzen scheidend – 
End’, o end’ den Kampf, Natur!
Sanft ins Leben
Aufwärts schweben
Sanft hinschwinden lass mich nur.
Horch! mir lispeln Geister zu: 
„Schwester-Seele, komm zur Ruh!“ 
Ziehet was mich sanft von innen? 
Was ist’s, was mir meine Sinnen 
Mir den Hauch zu rauben droht? 
Seele, sprich, ist das der Tod?
Die Welt entweicht! sie ist nicht mehr! 
Engel-Einklang um mich her!
Ich schweb’ im Morgenrot! –
Leiht, o leiht mir eure Schwingen:
Ihr Bruder-Geister, helft mir singen:
„O Grab, wo ist dein Sieg?
Wo ist dein Pfeil, o Tod?“


Spark of life, kindled by heaven,
that strives to twist itself free;
bold yet trembling, aching with longing, 
parting gladly, yet with pain –
cease, O cease this struggle, Nature!
Let me soar upwards
gently into life,
let me dwindle away gently.
Hark! Spirits whisper to me: 
‘Sister-soul, come to rest!’
Am I drawn gently hence?
What is this, that threatens
to steal my senses and my breath? 
Speak, soul, is this death?
The world recedes, it is no more! 
Angelic harmonies surround me. 
I float in the dawn.
Lend, O lend me your wings; 
brother-spirits, help me sing:
‘O grave, where is your victory? 
O death, where is your sting?’

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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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Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer. Famous for his use of the heroic couplet, he is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare.

Alexander Pope was born to Alexander Pope Senior (1646–1717), a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, and his wife Edith (née Turner) (1643–1733), who were both Catholics. Edith's sister Christiana was the wife of the famous miniature painter Samuel Cooper. Pope's education was affected by the recently enacted Test Acts, which upheld the status of the established Church of England and banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, and went to Twyford School in about 1698/99. He then went to two Catholic schools in London. Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.

In 1700, his family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest. This was due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles (16 km) of either London or Westminster. Pope would later describe the countryside around the house in his poem Windsor Forest. Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden. He also studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. After five years of study, Pope came into contact with figures from the London literary society such as William Wycherley, William Congreve, Samuel Garth, William Trumbull, and William Walsh.

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