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Songs

Wehe, so willst Du mich wieder (1864) Op. 32 no.5


Part of a series or song cycle:

9 Lieder und Gesänge (Op.32)


Wehe, so willst Du mich wieder

Wehe, so willst du mich wieder,
Hemmende Fessel, umfangen?
Auf, und hinaus in die Luft!
Ströme der Seele Verlangen,
Ström es in brausende Lieder,
Saugend ätherischen Duft!
Strebe dem Wind nur entgegen,
Daß er die Wange dir kühle,
Grüße den Himmel mit Lust!
Werden sich bange Gefühle
Im Unermesslichen regen?
Atme den Feind aus der Brust!

Alas, Would You Once Again

Alas, would you once again
Enchain me, restraining fetters?
Up and out into the open!
Pour out the soul’s longing,
Pour it into impassioned songs,
Absorbing ethereal fragrance!
Struggle into the teeth of the wind,
That it may cool your cheeks,
Greet the heavens with joy!
Can you feel anxiety,
When confronted by the infinite universe?
Breathe out the foe from your breast!
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna. 

Brahms has been considered, by his contemporaries and by later writers, as both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Classical masters. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by many. 

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Poet

August von Platen was born on 24 October 1796 at Ansbach, the son of the Oberforstmeister (a senior public servant) of that state, Count Philipp August von Platen-Hallermünde, by second wife Baroness Christiane Eichler von Auriz. Shortly after his birth Ansbach and other Franconian principalities became incorporated with Bavaria. Platen entered the school of cadets (Kadettenhaus) in Munich, Bavaria, where he showed early poetic talent. In 1810 as an adolescent he passed into the royal school of pages (Königliche Pagerie).

In 1814 Platen was appointed lieutenant in the regiment of Bavarian life-guards. With them he took part in the short campaign in France of 1815, being in bivouac for several months near Mannheim and in the department of the Yonne. He saw no fighting, however, and returned home with his regiment towards the close of the same year. Desiring to study, and finding garrison life distasteful, he obtained a long leave of absence, and after a tour in Switzerland and the Bavarian Alps, entered the university of Würzburg in 1818 as a student of philosophy and philology.

In the following year Platen migrated to the university of Erlangen, where he sat at the feet of Schelling, and became one of his most enthusiastic admirers.

As a result of his Oriental studies Platen published a little volume of poems — Ghaselen (1821), each consisting of ten to twenty verses, in which he imitates the style of Rückert; Lyrische Blätter (1821); Spiegel des Hafis (1822); Vermischte Schriften (1822); and Neue Ghaselen (1823). These attracted the attention of eminent men of letters among them Goethe, both by reason of their contents, which breathe the spirit of the East, and also of the purity and elegance of their form and diction.
Though Platen was at first influenced by the school of Romanticism, and particularly by Spanish models, the plays written during his university life at Erlangen, Der gläserne Pantoffel, Der Schatz des Rhampsinit, Berengar, Treue um Treue, Der Turm mit sieben Pforten, show a clearness of plot and expression foreign to the Romantic style. His antagonism to the literature of his day became more and more pronounced, and he vented his indignation at the lack of art shown by the later Romanticists, the inanity of the lyricists, and the bad taste of the so-called fate tragedies (Schicksalstragödien), in the witty Aristophanic comedies Die verhängnißvolle Gabel (1826) and Der romantische Oedipus (1828).

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