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Posts Tagged ‘the narrative thread in Winterreise’

Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797–November 19, 1828)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(October 5 1794 – September 30 1827)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitte Fassbaender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An English translation of  Schubert’s Winterreise, settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller.  A synopsis of the story told by the poems.
The twenty-four poems of Winterreise were written in 1821 and 1822 and published in full in 1824.  The first twelve poems were published separately in 1823.  Schubert made his settings of the poems in 1827.
This version of the poems is based on the 1895 translation of Dr Theodore Baker, first published by Schirmer.  However, there are important differences.  Baker’s translation, designed to be sung with Schubert’s music, reproduces the metres of the original.  This version is in blank verse and is designed purely to introduce modern readers to the poems.  I have ignored the original metrical scheme in order to make the poems easy to read, but I have tried to make the translation as accurate as possible.  I have also tried to use a vocabulary that suggests romantic poetry.

 

 
 Synopsis
Winterreise is primarily about feelings and atmosphere, but there is nevertheless a story, albeit told in a fragmented narrative.  A young man, the hero (or anti-hero) of the poems, arrives in an idyllic village in May (Good Night).  There he befriends a family of mother, father and daughter and is invited to live with them (Good Night).  He falls in love with the daughter and his love is returned, or so he is led to believe (Benumbed).  However, the daughter rejects him to marry a wealthy suitor with the approval of her parents (The Vane).  It is now winter and the hero leaves his adopted home in the dead of night, writing a farewell message to his beloved (Good Night).  As he leaves the town crows shower him with snow from the roofs (Looking Back) and he begins a painful journey, constantly tortured by memories of his past happiness (Frozen Tears, On the River, The Watercourse). As he leaves the town he is joined by a raven, possibly symbolic of a death wish (The Raven).  Eventually he arrives at another town (Solitude) where it seems that he stays for some time as he writes of the post arriving there (The Post).  The cycle ends with a particularly bleak image.  An organ-grinder or hurdy-gurdy man has a pitch near the village where he plies his trade ignored by the villagers and harassed by dogs.  It is ironic that in this final poem the poet asks if the hurdy-gurdy man will set the poet’s songs to music, an invitation that was ultimately accepted by Schubert.

 

Barry Mitchell, July 2009.

 

 

 

 

 
 The Poems

 

 

 

 13. The Post (Die Post)

 

 

The post-horn rings
Rings through the streets
Heart, where do these feelings come from?

The post has no news for me
So heart, why do you grieve?

The post has arrived
From the town
Where once, my heart
I loved so dearly

I’ll ask the postman, Heart
If he has been to that town
And if he has seen
The fair one you loved

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
14. The Gray Head (Der greise Kopf)

A white sheen covers my head
A frost has done its work
I imagine I am old and grey
A pleasant dream for me

But then comes the thaw
My hair returns to black
Once more I am young
And peace is far away

They say one night of torment
Can make black hair turn white
The frost leaves my hair untouched
I have wandered but must wander more

 

 

 

 

15. The Raven (Die Krähe)

 

 

A raven has flown beside me
Since the day I left the town
Raven, bird of ill-omen
Will you ever leave me?

Do you stalk me
In the hope I will be yours?
My journey can’t last much longer
My strength begins to fail

Raven, surely you will be true
Until death overtakes me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. The Last Hope (Letzte Hoffnung)

 

 

A few gaudy leaves remain
On the winter branches
I shelter beneath
I begin to dream

I stare at one leaf
I stake my hopes on it
If the breeze moves it
I shiver and shake with fear

If the leaf falls
And flutters down
My hopes will fall with it
My heart will sink too
My last hope will be gone

 

 

 

 

17.  In the Village (Im Dorfe)

 

 

The watchdogs are barking
And straining at their chains
The people are sleeping
And the village is at rest

What dreams they have
What joyful pleasures
Of good, of evil
According to their souls

But in the light of morning
Their treasures are all gone
What then? – They’ve had their fill
But hope in vain their dreams are real

Bark long, bark loud
My brave guards
The world sleeps
But gives me no rest!

My dreams have ended in tears
Why should I linger here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. The Stormy Morning (Der Sturmische Morgen)

 

 

A storm has ripped
The grey robe of the sky
The clouds fly apart
In wild disorder

A flame reaches out and grasps the earth
The scene without, the soul within
One hot and fiery
The other cold and bleak

 

 

 

 

19.  Illusion (Täuschung)

 

 

I see a flickering guiding light
To left and right, now here, now there
I’ll follow this light, though I know
It will mislead and tease me

Those who are lost, as I am
Will trust a friendly guiding light
That in the darkness, ice and snow
Shows the path to welcoming house

I see a fair face within
This trickery is my gain

 

 

 

 

20.  The Guide-Post (Der Wegweiser)

 

 

Why should I leave the beaten path
Where the other wanderers tread?
Why do I seek hidden tracks
On unmarked mountain snow?

I have injured no one
No need to shun mankind
It is only foolishness
That makes me seek the wild

At every crossing there is a post
It points towards the town
I will travel far beyond them
I’ll seek rest, but find none

I see a guidepost standing
Before my face it stands
It points me to a path
One no wanderer can retrace

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
21.  The Wayside Inn (Das Wirthaus)

 

 

I’ve laboured upon my journey
A path to this lonely graveyard
I was looking for a welcoming inn
To rest my weary head

These green funeral wreaths
You could be the sign
That tells the tired traveller
That a cool retreat awaits

Among all your rooms
Do you have one for me?
I’m tired and ready to rest
Unwelcoming inn, do you deny me shelter?

 

 

 

 

22.  Courage (Mut!)

 

 

Snow falls on my cheek
I carelessly brush it away
If my heart speaks of its troubles
I’ll drown it out with a happy song

I won’t listen to the heart’s complaints
I won’t listen to its fears
I’m content to wander
Through the wind and the snow

I have my trusty staff
I have my cheerful song
We will journey on together

 

 

 

 

23.  The Mock Suns (Die Nebensonnen)

 

 

I saw three suns in the bright cold sky
I stared at them long and hard
Unmoving they stared back at me
As if they would last forever

You three do not belong to me
Go and shine on others
I used to have three suns
But the best two have gone

 

If the third goes out
I will welcome the darkness

 

 

 

 

 

 

24.  The Organ-Grinder (Der Leiermann)

 

 

Up behind the village
The organ grinder has his pitch
He stands barefoot or shuffles
On the frozen ground

With stiff fingers
He coaxes out the sound
His saucer is empty
Gifts for him are rare

No one listens to him
Or looks at him, or cares
Dogs snarl at him
Dogs chase him

But he wears a smile
He shows no fear or disappointment
But turns the handle round and round

Shall I join you on your journey?
Will you play the music to my songs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Woods by Ralph Parker

 

 

 

http://ralphparkerart.wordpress.com/

Creek in Winter by Ralph Parker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://theoryofmusic.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/english-translation-of-schuberts-winterreise-poems-by-w-muller/#comment-961

Credit for the Translation, Text and Tags goes to Barry Mitchell, without whose work this post would not exist.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigitte_Fassbaender

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winterreise

 

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Franz Schubert (January 32 1797 – November 19 1828)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(October 7 1794 – September 30 1827)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigitte Fassbaender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An English translation of  Schubert’s Winterreise, settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller.  A synopsis of the story told by the poems.

The twenty-four poems of Winterreise were written in 1821 and 1822 and published in full in 1824.  The first twelve poems were published separately in 1823.  Schubert made his settings of the poems in 1827.

This version of the poems is based on the 1895 translation of Dr Theodore Baker, first published by Schirmer.  However, there are important differences.  Baker’s translation, designed to be sung with Schubert’s music, reproduces the metres of the original.  This version is in blank verse and is designed purely to introduce modern readers to the poems.  I have ignored the original metrical scheme in order to make the poems easy to read, but I have tried to make the translation as accurate as possible.  I have also tried to use a vocabulary that suggests romantic poetry.

Synopsis

Winterreise is primarily about feelings and atmosphere, but there is nevertheless a story, albeit told in a fragmented narrative.  A young man, the hero (or anti-hero) of the poems, arrives in an idyllic village in May (Good Night).  There he befriends a family of mother, father and daughter and is invited to live with them (Good Night).  He falls in love with the daughter and his love is returned, or so he is led to believe (Benumbed).  However, the daughter rejects him to marry a wealthy suitor with the approval of her parents (The Vane).  It is now winter and the hero leaves his adopted home in the dead of night, writing a farewell message to his beloved (Good Night).  As he leaves the town crows shower him with snow from the roofs (Looking Back) and he begins a painful journey, constantly tortured by memories of his past happiness (Frozen Tears, On the River, The Watercourse). As he leaves the town he is joined by a raven, possibly symbolic of a death wish (The Raven).  Eventually he arrives at another town (Solitude) where it seems that he stays for some time as he writes of the post arriving there (The Post).  The cycle ends with a particularly bleak image.  An organ-grinder or hurdy-gurdy man has a pitch near the village where he plies his trade ignored by the villagers and harassed by dogs.  It is ironic that in this final poem the poet asks if the hurdy-gurdy man will set the poet’s songs to music, an invitation that was ultimately accepted by Schubert.

Barry Mitchell, July 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Poems.

 

 

1.  Good Night (Gute Nacht)

 

As a stranger I arrived

As a stranger I shall leave

I remember a perfect day in May

How bright the flowers, how cool the breeze

The maiden had a friendly smile

The mother had kind words

But now the world is dreary

With a winter path before me

I can’t choose the season

To depart from this place

I won’t delay or ponder

I must begin my journey now

The bright moon lights my path

It will guide me on my road

I see the snow-covered meadow

I see where deer have trod

A voice within says – go now

Why linger and delay?

Leave the dogs to bay at the moon

Before her father’s gate

For love is a thing of changes

God has made it so

Ever-changing from old to new

God has made it so

So love delights in changes

Good night, my love, good night

Love is a thing of changes

Good night, my love, good night

I’ll not disturb your sleep

But I’ll write over your door

A simple farewell message

Good night, my love, good night

These are the last words spoken

Soon I’ll be out of sight

A simple farewell message

Goodnight, my love, good night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. The Vane (Die Wetterfahne)

 

 

The wind is turning the weathervane

On the roof of my sweetheart’s house

Round and round it mocks and teases

Teases and mocks my sighs and my tears

If only I’d seen this fickle symbol

Before I entered that house

I would not have hoped so much

Of one inconstant, though so fair

For Nature plays with our hearts

As the wind plays with the vane

What do they care if my heart is dying?

Their child will be a wealthy bride

 

 

 

 

 

3. Frozen Tears (Gefrorne Tränen)

 

 

Some frozen tears

Cling to my face

Have I really been crying

And not noticed them flow?

Teardrops, heavy teardrops

What chills you through

What turns you into ice

Like drops of early dew?

From this poor bosom tears flow

Flow with burning heat

Flow enough to melt

The winter frost and snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Benumbed (Erstarrung)

 

 

I look for traces of her footsteps

I look for them in vain

Where leaning on my arm

She crossed the bright green field

I’ll kiss the wintry carpet

And with my scalding tears

Dissolve the freezing snow

I’ll bring that field to life again

Do flowers still bloom?

Is the grass still green?

All the flowers have died

The grass is withered and thin

Earth, can you remind me

Of yesterday’s happiness

When my sorrows fall silent

Who will speak to me of her?

It seems my heart is frozen

Her face etched on the ice

If my heart ever melts

Her face will fade away

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Linden Tree (Der Lindenbaum)

 

 

Before the doorway is a well

A Linden-tree stands there

Many times I’ve sought its shade

A place of rest and pleasant dreams

When dreaming there I carved

Some words of love upon the bark

Both joy and sorrow

Drew me to that shady spot

But today I must wander

Through this blackest night

In darkness I passed this tree

But couldn’t bear to look

I heard the branches rustle

As if they spoke to me

Come to me my old friend

Find peace with me

Cruel winds were blowing

Coldly cutting my face

My hat was blown behind me

I quickly sped on my way

I’m now many miles distant

From that dear old Linden-tree

But I still hear it whisper

“Come – find peace with me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Watercourse (Wasserflut)

 

 

My tears have made

Deep marks in the snow

The cold flakes

Absorbing all my sorrows

When the grass begins to grow

And feels a warmer breeze

The swelling ice begins to break

And the sun melts the snow

Snow, you know of my yearnings

Tell me, where do you go?

Take my tears with you

As you flow to the stream

Flow through the town together

Go where the road leads

You’ll feel my hot tears

As you pass where my loved-one lives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. On the River (Auf dem Flusse)

 

 

River, once so restless

Flowing fast and bright

Why are you now so still

Lifeless, chilled and silent

A hard and icy case

Is now your winter prison

You lie cold and dreary

Pressed fast upon the earth

I’ll write upon your cover

With a pointed stone

My loved one’s name

A day and a time

The day when I first met her

The day when my love began

I’ll draw a broken ring

Around that name and date

Does my heart see

Your image in this river?

Does it swell and quiver

In its own icy case?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Looking Back (Rückblick)

 

 

It feels like I’m walking on fireThough underfoot is ice and snow

I’ve hardly time to draw breath

So keen am I to leave that town

Every stone has made me stumble

In my haste to get away

From every roof  I’ve passed

Crows have showered me with snow

How different when I arrived

How well you greeted me then

Your shining happy streets

Where the lark and nightingale sang

A Linden-tree whispered in the breeze

The murmur of the sparkling stream

Then the spell cast upon my heart

From a beautiful maiden’s eyes

Now when I think of that day

I’m tempted to turn and look back

To retrace my weary way

To stand before my loved one’s house

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Will O’ the Wisp (Irrlicht)

 

 

Will O’ the Wisp has led me

Deep into a rocky maze

I look from right to left

I seek a path, but there is none

I’m about to lose my way

All paths appear the same

Our joys and sorrows are no more real

Than this teasing phantom light

Through the gorge where the river rushed

I’ll calmly travel on

Every river flows to the sea

Every sorrow will come to an end

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Rest (Rast)

 

 

At last I rest and only now

I feel weary

Nothing could tire me

While I pressed on

Over desolate winter paths

I was carried along as if on wings

It was too cold to stop

The winter wind helped me on my way

A helping hand on my back

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Spring Dreams (Frühlingstraum)

 

 

I dreamt of flowers in many colours

That burst forth in May

I dreamt of the grassy meadow

And the sound of endless birdsong

When the cock crowed

I awoke in my bed

Eveything was cold and dismal

And ravens croaked overhead

Who drew those leafy flowers

Upon the window pane?

Why do you mock the dreamer

Whose garden blooms in winter?

I dreamt of a lovely maiden

And of the love we shared

I dreamt of sweet kisses

And blissful caresses

When the cock crowed

I started from my dreams

Now I’m sitting alone

With a memory of that dream

My eyes are closing again

Once more my heart begins to throb

Will leaves ever turn green?

Will I ever embrace my sweetheart?

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Solitude (Einsamkeit)

 

 

Dark clouds are drifting

Across the bright blue sky

Soft breezes gently sigh

In the dark forest

But in moody silence

I walk with sluggish feet

Alone and unnoticed

In this busy street

Why is the air so tranquil!

Why is the world so fair!

Even in the raging storm

I never felt such despair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://theoryofmusic.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/english-translation-of-schuberts-winterreise-poems-by-w-muller/#comment-961

Credit for the Translation, Text and Tags goes to Barry Mitchell, without whose work this post would not exist.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigitte_Fassbaender

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winterreise

 

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