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Sehnsucht (1840) Op. 51 no.1

Part of a series or song cycle:

Lieder und Gesänge, ii (Op. 51)


Ich blick’ in mein Herz und ich blick in die Welt,
Bis vom schwimmenden Auge die Träne mir fällt,
Wohl leuchtet die Ferne mit goldenem Licht,
Doch hält mich der Nord, ich erreiche sie nicht.
O die Schranken so eng und die Welt so weit,
Und so flüchtig die Zeit!
Ich weiss ein Land, wo aus sonnigem Grün
Um versunkene Tempel die Trauben blühn,
Wo die purpurne Woge das Ufer besäumt
Und von kommenden Sängern der Lorbeer träumt.
Fern lockt es und winkt dem verlangenden Sinn,
Und ich kann nicht hin!
O hätt’ ich Flügel durchs Blau der Luft,
Wie wollt ich baden im Sonnenduft!
Doch umsonst! Und Stunde auf Stunde entflieht,
Vertraure die Jugend, begrabe das Lied!—
O die Schranken so eng und die Welt so weit,
Und so flüchtig die Zeit!


I look into my heart and I look into the world,
Till tears fall from my streaming eyes;
Though far distant lands gleam golden,
The north holds me captive, I fail to reach them.
My life is so narrow and the world is so wide,
And time so fleeting!
I know a land, where among sunny leaves
Grapevines bloom around sunken temples,
Where purple waves line the shore,
And the laurel dreams of poets to come.
Distant lands beckon to my yearning mind,
And yet I cannot go!
If I had wings, I’d cleave the blue sky,
And immerse myself in summer’s haze!
But all is vain! Time flies by;
Mourn for lost youth, bury the songs!—
My life is so narrow and the world is so wide,
And time so fleeting!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Emanuel von Geibel , German poet and playwright.
He was born at Lübeck, the son of a pastor. He was originally intended for his father's profession and studied at Bonn and Berlin, but his real interests lay not in theology but in classical and romance philology. In 1838 he accepted a tutorship at Athens, where he remained until 1840. In the same year he published, in conjunction with his friend Ernst Curtius, a volume of translations from Greek. His first poems were published in a volume entitled Zeitstimmen in 1841. In 1842 he entered the service of Frederick William IV, the king of Prussia, with an annual stipend of 300 thalers; under whom he produced König Roderich (1843), a tragedy, König Sigurds Brautfahrt (1846), an epic, and Juniuslieder (1848), lyrics in a more spirited and manlier style than his early poems.

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