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Songs

Kophtisches Lied (1892) Op. 59 no.2


Part of a series or song cycle:

Fünf Lieder für Bariton und Klavier (Op. 59)


Kophtisches Lied

Laßet Gelehrte sich zanken und streiten,
Streng und bedächtig die Lehrer auch sein!
Alle die Weisesten aller der Zeiten
Lächeln und winken und stimmen mit ein:
„Töricht, auf Beßrung der Toren zu harren!
Kinder der Klugheit, o habet die Narren
Eben zum Narren auch, wie sich’s gehört!“
Merlin der Alte, im leuchtenden Grabe,
Wo ich als Jüngling gesprochen ihn habe,
Hat mich mit ähnlicher Antwort belehrt:
„Töricht, auf Beßrung der Toren zu harren!
Kinder der Klugheit, o habet die Narren
Eben zum Narren auch, wie sich’s gehört!“
Und auf den Höhen der indischen Lüfte
Und in den Tiefen ägyptischer Grüfte
Hab ich das heilige Wort nur gehört:
„Töricht, auf Beßrung der Toren zu harren!
Kinder der Klugheit, o habet die Narren
Eben zum Narren auch, wie sich’s gehört!“

Cophtic Song

Let scholars quarrel and squabble,
Let teachers too be prudent and strict!
All the wisest men in all the ages
Nod and smile in agreement with me:
‘Foolish to wait till fools grow wiser!
Children of wisdom, simply make fools
Of the fools, as is fit!’
Old Merlin from his shining grave,
Where I consulted him in my youth,
Gave me a similar answer too:
‘Foolish to wait till fools grow wiser!
Children of wisdom, simply make fools
Of the fools, as is fit!’
And on India’s airy heights,
And in the depths of Egyptian tombs,
I have only heard those sacred words:
‘Foolish to wait till fools grow wiser!
Children of wisdom, simply make fools
Of the fools, as is fit!’
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Max Bruch was a German Romantic composer, teacher, and conductor. 

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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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