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Songs

Songs

Prometheus (1891)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Goethe-Lieder


Prometheus

Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus,
Mit Wolkendunst
Und übe, dem Knaben gleich,
Der Disteln köpft,
An Eichen dich und Bergeshöhn;
Mußt mir meine Erde
Doch lassen stehn,
Und meine Hütte, die du nicht gebaut,
Und meines Herd,
Um dessen Glut
Du mich beneidest.
Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres
Unter der Sonn', als euch, Götter!
Ihr nährt kümmerlich
Von Opfersteuern
Und Gebetshauch
Eure Majestät
Und darbtet, wären
Nicht Kinder und Bettler
Hoffnungsvolle Toren.
Da ich ein Kind war,
Nicht wußte, wo aus noch ein,
Kehrt' ich mein verirrtes Auge
Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär'
Ein Ohr, zu hören meine Klage,
Ein Herz wie mein's,
Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.
Wer half mir
Wider der Titanen Übermut?
Wer rettete vom Tode mich,
Von Sklaverei?
Hast du nicht alles selbst vollendet
Heilig glühend Herz?
Und glühtest jung und gut,
Betrogen, Rettungsdank
Dem Schlafenden da droben?
Ich dich ehren? Wofür?
Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert
Je des Beladenen?
Hast du die Tränen gestillet
Je des Geängsteten?
Hat mich nicht zum Manne geschmiedet
Die allmächtige Zeit
Und das ewige Schicksal,
Meine Herrn und deine?
Wähntest du etwa,
Ich sollte das Leben hassen,
In Wüsten fliehen,
Weil nicht alle
Blütenträume reiften?
Hier sitz' ich, forme Menschen
Nach meinem Bilde,
Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,
Zu leiden, zu weinen,
Zu genießen und zu freuen sich
Und dein nicht zu achten,
Wie ich!

Prometheus

Cover your heaven, Zeus,
With cloudy vapours,
And test your strength, like a boy
Beheading thistles,
On oaks and mountain peaks;
Yet you must leave
My earth alone,
And my hut you did not build,
And my hearth,
Whose fire
You envy me.
I know nothing more paltry
Beneath the sun than you, gods!
Meagrely you nourish
Your majesty
On levied offerings
And the breath of prayer,
And would starve, were
Not children and beggars
Optimistic fools.
When I was a child,
Not knowing which way to turn,
I raised my misguided eyes
To the sun, as if above it there were
An ear to hear my lament,
A heart like mine,
To pity me in my anguish.
Who helped me
Withstand the Titans’ insolence?
Who saved me from death
And slavery?
Did you not accomplish all this yourself,
Sacred glowing heart?
And did you not – young, innocent,
Deceived – glow with gratitude for your deliverance
To that slumberer in the skies?
I honour you? Why?
Did you ever soothe the anguish
That weighed me down?
Did you ever dry my tears
When I was terrified?
Was I not forged into manhood
By all-powerful Time
And everlasting Fate,
My masters and yours?
Did you suppose
I should hate life,
Flee into the wilderness,
Because not all
My blossoming dreams bore fruit?
Here I sit, making men
In my own image,
A race that shall be like me,
That shall suffer, weep,
Know joy and delight,
And ignore you,
As I do!

Composer

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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Poet

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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