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Der Handschuh (1849) Op. 87

Der Handschuh

Vor seinem Löwengarten,
Das Kampfspiel zu erwarten,
Saß König Franz,
Und um ihn die Großen der Krone,
Und rings auf hohem Balkone
Die Damen in schönem Kranz.
Und wie er winkt mit dem Finger,
Auftut sich der Zwinger,
Und hinein mit bedächtigem Schritt
Ein Löwe tritt,
Und sieht sich stumm
Rings um,
Mit langem Gähnen,
Und schüttelt die Mähnen,
Und streckt die Glieder,
Und legt sich nieder.
Und der König winkt wieder,
Da öffnet sich behend
Ein zweites Tor,
Daraus rennt
Mit wildem Sprunge
Ein Tiger hervor,
Wie der den Löwen erschaut,
Brüllt er laut,
Schlägt mit dem Schweif
Einen furchtbaren Reif,
Und recket die Zunge,
Und im Kreise scheu
Umgeht er den Leu
Grimmig schnurrend,
Drauf streckt er sich murrend
Zur Seite nieder.
Und der König winkt wieder,
Da speit das doppelt geöffnete Haus
Zwei Leoparden auf einmal aus;
Die stürzen mit mutiger Kampfbegier
Auf das Tigertier,
Das packt sie mit seinen grimmigen Tatzen,
Und der Leu mit Gebrüll
Richtet sich auf, da wird’s still,
Und herum im Kreis,
Von Mordsucht heiß,
Lagern sich die greulichen Katzen.
Da fällt von des Altans Rand
Ein Handschuh von schöner Hand
Zwischen den Tiger und den Leu’n
Mitten hinein.
Und zu Ritter Delorges spottenderweis
Wendet sich Fräulein Kunigund:
„Herr Ritter, ist Eure Lieb so heiß,
Wie Ihr mir’s schwört zu jeder Stund,
Ei, so hebt mir den Handschuh auf.“
Und der Ritter in schnellem Lauf
Steigt hinab in den furchtbaren Zwinger
Mit festem Schritte,
Und aus der Ungeheuer Mitte
Nimmt er den Handschuh mit keckem Finger.
Und mit Erstaunen und mit Grauen
Sehen’s die Ritter und Edelfrauen,
Und gelassen bringt er den Handschuh zurück,
Da schallt ihm sein Lob aus jedem Munde,
Aber mit zärtlichem Liebesblick—
Er verheißt ihm sein nahes Glück—
Empfängt ihn Fräulein Kunigunde.
Und er wirft ihr den Handschuh ins Gesicht:
„Den Dank, Dame, begehr ich nicht,“
Und verläßt sie zur selben Stunde.

The Glove

Before his lion arena,
Awaiting the contest,
Sat King Francis,
Surrounded by the lords of the realm,
And on the high balcony,
By a fair circle of ladies.
And as he gives a sign,
The cage opens,
And with measured tread
A lion pads in,
Silently looking
Around
With a long yawn,
He shakes his mane,
Stretches his limbs
And then lies down.
And again the king gives a sign,
A second gate
Swiftly opens,
And from it,
With savage leap,
A tiger springs.
On seeing the lion,
He roars mightily,
Lashing his tail
In a fearful arc
And lolls out his tongue,
And stealthily
Circles the lion,
And then, with a growl,
Lies down
By its side.
And again the king gives a sign,
The gates open a second time,
Spewing out two leopards at once.
They pounce with murderous might
On the tiger,
Which seizes them in his cruel claws,
And the lion, with a roar,
Rises—all fall silent;
And in a circle,
Hot with bloodlust,
The savage cats crouch down.
Then, from the balcony’s edge,
A glove falls from a fair hand,
Right between
The tiger and the lion.
And to Sir Delorges, tauntingly
Lady Kunigunde turns:
‘Knight, if you love me as ardently
As you constantly avow—
Why then, bring me up my glove!’
And the knight swiftly
Descends into the terrible den,
Unflinchingly,
And from between the monstrous beasts
Audaciously recovers the glove.
And with amazement and terror
The knights and noble ladies watch,
As calmly he returns with the glove.
All then praise him;
But with tender loving glances—
A promise of the bliss in store—
Lady Kunigunde receives him.
And he flings the glove in her face:
‘I desire no such thanks from you, my Lady!’
And forthwith takes his leave.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

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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Poet

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life (1788–1805), Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with the already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works he left as sketches. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism. They also worked together on Xenien, a collection of short satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe challenge opponents to their philosophical vision.

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