Saturday 24th February 2024
Wesendonck Lieder words translated from German to English
English translation © Richard Stokes
1. The angel
In the early days of childhood
I often heard tell of angels
Who exchange heaven’s pure bliss
For the sun of earth,
So that, when a sorrowful heart
Hides its yearning from the world
And would silently bleed away
And dissolve in streams of tears,
And when its fervent prayer
Begs only for deliverance,
That angel will fly down
And gently raise the heart to heaven.
And to me too an angel descended,
And now on shining wings
Bear my spirit, free from all pain,
2. Stand still!
Rushing, roaring wheel of time,
You that measure eternity;
Gleaming spheres in the vast universe,
You that surround our earthly sphere;
Eternal creation – cease:
Enough of becoming, let me be!
Hold yourselves back, generative powers,
Primal Thought that always creates!
Stop your breath, still your urge,
Be silent for a single moment!
Swelling pulses, restrain your beating;
Eternal day of the Will – end!
That in blessed, sweet oblivion
I might measure all my bliss!
When eye gazes blissfully into eye,
When soul drowns utterly in soul;
When being finds itself in being,
And the goal of every hope is near,
When lips are mute in silent wonder,
When the soul wishes for nothing more:
Then man perceives Eternity’s footprint,
And solves your riddle, holy Nature!
3. In the greenhouse
High-arching leafy crowns,
Canopies of emerald,
You children who dwell in distant climes,
Tell me, why do you lament?
Silently you bend your branches,
Inscribe your symbols on the air,
And a sweet fragrance rises,
As silent witness to you sorrows.
With longing and desire
You open wide your arms,
And embrace in your delusion
Desolation’s awful void.
I am well aware, poor plant;
We both share a single fate,
Though bathed in gleaming light,
Our homeland is not here!
And just as the sun is glad to leave
The empty gleam of day,
The true sufferer veils himself
In the darkness of silence.
It grows quiet, a whirring whisper
Fills the dark room uneasily:
I see heavy droplets hanging
From the green edge of the leaves.
Every evening, sun, you redden
Your lovely eyes with weeping,
When, bathing in the sea,
You die an early death;
Yet you rise in your old splendour,
The glory of the dark world,
When you wake in the morning
As a proud and conquering hero!
Ah, why should I complain,
Why should I see you, my heart, so depressed,
If the sun itself must despair,
If the sun itself must set?
If only death gives birth to life,
If only agony brings bliss:
O how I give thanks to Nature
For giving me such agony!
Say, what wondrous dreams are these
Embracing all my senses,
That they have not, like bubbles,
Vanished to a barren void?
Dreams, that with every hour
Bloom more lovely every day,
And with their heavenly tidings
Float blissfully through the mind!
Dreams, that with glorious rays
Penetrate the soul,
There to paint an eternal picture:
Forgetting all, remembering one!
Dreams, as when the Spring sun
Kisses blossoms from the snow,
So the new day might welcome them
In unimagined bliss,
So that they grow and flower,
Bestow their scent as in a dream,
Fade softly away on your breast
And sink into their grave.