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Ach Gott, wie graust mir vor dem Tod (1911)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann 


Ach Gott, wie graust mir vor dem Tod

Ach Gott, wie graust mir vor dem Tod,
Der Angstschweiss bricht mir aus vor Not.
Kann der die Seel im Leib uns morden ?
Was ist denn jählings aus mir worden ?
Hab immer doch in bösen Stunden
Mir irgend einen Trost ausgfunden.
War nie verlassen ganz und gar,
Nie kein erbärmlich armer Narr.
War immer wo doch noch ein Halt
Und habs gewendet mit Gewalt.
Sind all denn meine Kräft dahin,
Und alls verworren schon mein Sinn,
Dass ich kaum mehr besinnen kann,
Wer bin ich denn: der Jedermann,
Der reiche Jedermann allzeit.
Das ist mein Hand, das ist mein Kleid,
Und was da steht auf diesem Platz,
Das ist mein Geld, das ist mein Schatz,
Durch den ich jederzeit mit Macht
Hab alles spielend vor mir bracht.
Nun wird mir wohl, dass ich den seh
Recht bei der Hand in meiner Näh.
Wenn ich bei dem verharren kann,
Geht mich kein Graus und Ängsten an.
Weh aber, ich muss ja dorthin,
Das kommt mir jählings in den Sinn.
Der Bot war da, die Ladung ist beschehn,
Nun heisst es auf und dorthin gehn.
Nit ohne dich, du musst mit mir,
Lass dich um alles nit hinter mir.
Du musst jetzt in ein andres Haus,
Drum auf mit dir und schnell heraus.

O God, how scared I am of death

O God, how scared I am of death,
I break out in a cold sweat;
Can death kill the body's soul?
What has suddenly become of me?
In times of trouble I was always able
To find some kind of solace.
I was never totally forsaken,
Never a poor and wretched fool.
Some support was always found
And I always applied it with force.
Now all my strength is spent
And my sense so bewildered
That I can scarcely recall
Who I am: Everyman,
Still the wealthy Everyman.
That is my hand, this is my cloak,
And that which I see before me,
That is my money, that is my treasure,
Through which I've always had the power
To fulfil with ease all my wishes.
My spirits now rise when I see
My treasure near at hand.
As long as it's safe by my side,
I shall not feel terror or fear.
But alas, I must go to that place -
It suddenly flashed through my mind.
The Messenger came, the summons arrived,
I must now set out for that place.
But not without you, you must come with me,
On no account shall I leave you here.
You must now go to another house,
So up you get and quickly leave!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Frank Martin was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands.


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Poet

Hugo Laurenz August Hofmann von Hofmannsthal (1 February 1874 – 15 July 1929) was an Austrian prodigy, a novelist, librettist, poet, dramatist, narrator, and essayist. He became internationally famous through his work with Richard Strauss.

The only child of a bank director, Hofmannsthal studied law at Vienna. At 16 he published his first poems, under the pseudonym Loris. They created a stir in Vienna and in Germany with their lyrical beauty, magic evocativeness of language, and dreamlike quality. Their anticipation of mature experience and formal virtuosity seem incredible in one so young. After his year of compulsory military service, he studied Romance philology with a view to an academic career but in 1901 married and became a free-lance writer.

Between 1891 and 1899 Hofmannsthal wrote a number of short verse plays, influenced by the static dramas of the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, the dramatic monologues of the English Romantic poet Robert Browning, and the proverbes dramatiques of the French poet Alfred de Musset. Of the same exquisite beauty as the poems, these playlets are lyric reflections on appearance and reality, transience and timelessness, and continuity and change within the human personality—themes constantly recurring in his later works. After the turn of the century, however, Hofmannsthal renounced purely lyrical forms in his essay “Ein Brief” (also called “Chandos Brief,” 1902). This essay was more than the revelation of a personal predicament; it has come to be recognized as symptomatic of the crisis that undermined the esthetic Symbolist movement of the end of the century. You can read it here in German or English. 

Read more about Hofmannsthal, as well as some of his poetry in English, here. You can find an extensive collection of his poetry in the original German here, on zeno.org. 

Information taken from Wikipedia and Encycolpedia Brittanica. For the full Wikipedia article, click here. For the full Encyclopedia Brittannica entry, click here.


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