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Der Sänger (1891)

Part of a series or song cycle:


Der Sänger

"Was hör ich draußen vor dem Tor,
Was auf der Brücke schallen?
Laß den Gesang vor unserm Ohr
Im Saale widerhallen!
Der König sprach's, der Page lief;
Der Knabe kam, der König rief:
Laßt mir herein den Alten!"
"Gegrüßet seid mir, edle Herrn,
Gegrüßt ihr’ schönen Damen!
Welch reicher Himmel! Stern bei Stern!
Wer kennet ihre Namen?
Im Saal voll Pracht und Herrlichkeit
Schließt, Augen, euch: hier ist nicht Zeit,
Sich staunend zu ergötzen."
Der Sänger drückt' die Augen ein,
Und schlug in vollen Tönen;
Die Ritter schauten mutig drein
Und in den Schoß die Schönen.
Der König, dem das Lied gefiel,
Ließ, ihn zu ehren für sein Spiel,
Eine goldne Kette reichen.
"Die goldne Kette gib mir nicht,
Die Kette gib den Rittern,
Vor deren kühnem Angesicht
Der Feinde Lanzen splittern;
Gib sie dem Kanzler, den du hast,
Und laß ihn noch die goldne Last
Zu andern Lasten tragen.
Ich singe, wie der Vogel singt,
Der in den Zweigen wohnet;
Das Lied, das aus der Kehle dringt,
Ist Lohn, der reichlich lohnet.
Doch darf ich bitten, bitt ich eins:
Laß mir den besten Becher Weins
In purem Golde reichen."
Er setzt' ihn an, er trank ihn aus:
"O Trank voll süßer Labe!
O wohl dem hochbeglückten Haus,
Wo das ist kleine Gabe!
Ergeht's euch wohl, so denkt an mich
Und danket Gott so warm, als ich
Für diesen Trunk euch danke."

The Minstrel

‘What do I hear outside the gate,
What sounds from the bridge?
Let that song resound for us
Here inside this hall!
So spake the king, the page ran,
The boy returned, the king exclaimed:
Let the old man enter!’
‘Hail to you, O noble lords,
Hail to you, fair ladies!
How rich a heaven! Star on star!
Who can tell their names?
In this hall of pomp and splendour,
Close, O eyes; here is no time
For amazement and delight.’
The minstrel shut tight his eyes
And struck up with full voice;
The knights looked on gallantly,
The ladies gazed into their laps.
The king, enchanted with the song,
Sent for a golden chain
To reward him for his playing.
‘Give not the golden chain to me,
Give it to your knights,
Before whose bold countenance
The enemy lances shatter;
Give it to your chancellor
And let him add its golden weight
To his other burdens.
I sing as the bird sings
In the branches;
The song that bursts from the throat
Is its own abundant reward.
But if I may, I’ll beg on boon:
Let the best wine be brought me
In a beaker of pure gold.’
He put it to his lips, he drank it dry:
‘O draught full of sweet refreshment!
O happy that highly-favoured house,
Where that is a trifling gift!
If you prosper, then think of me,
And thank God as warmly,
As I thank you for this draught.’


Hugo Philipp Jacob Wolf was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin. He is particularly known for his art song, or Lieder. His Lieder display a concentrated expressive intensity unique to Wolf. 

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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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