The Town

Karen Gershon
German
1923 – 1993

 

I did not want to feel at home
of what importance was the town
my family were driven from
how could I still have thought it mine
I have four children why should I
expend my love on stones and trees
of what significance were these
to have such power over me

As stones and trees absorb the weather
so these had stored my childhood days
and from a million surfaces
gave back my father and my mother
my presence there was dialogue
how could I have refused to answer
when my own crippled childhood broke
from streets and hillsides like a dancer

Dreams

We present this work in honor of the 120th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Mathilde Wesendonck
German
1828 – 1902

 

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.

Translation by Richard Stokes

from Schweigt Stille, Plaudert Nicht

Christiana Mariana von Ziegler
German
1695 – 1760

 

Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

Nightfall

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 145th birthday.

Princess Mathilde of Bavaria
German
1877 – 1906

 

Sadly and slowly the long day dies,
All golden and crimson flame the skies,
And the silvery moon climbs high.

I’m searching, and yearning, and weeping low
For happiness which I can not know;
For hopes that have passed me by.

Translation by John Heard, Jr.

Pine

06-02 Goldberg
Leah Goldberg
German
1911 – 1970

 

Here I will never hear the cuckoo’s call.
Here trees will never wear the shtreimel-snow.
Yet here in the pine’s shade I can hear all
My childhood, brought to life from long ago.

The needles chiming: Once upon a time
“Home” was the word I gave to snow, not sand,
And the brook-fettering ice- a greenish rime
Of my song’s language in a foreign land.

Perhaps the voyaging birds alone who find
Their own route hanging between the sky and earth,
Know how I pine between two lands of birth.

In you I was transplanted, O my pine.
In you I branched into myself and grew
Where disparate landscapes split one root in two.

 

Translation by A.Z. Foreman

To

01-12 Albrecht
Sophie Albrecht
German
1757 – 1840

When your kiss hovers on my lips,
And each of my nerves trembles,
When your cheek lies hot on my cheek,
And your breast clings to mine,
Ha! who can say then exactly what I feel,
And maybe this is a deep sin,
My fearful soul calls often with a shudder,
And yet with passionate lingering
My mouth stays glowing at your lips,
Hotter grows my cheek, instead of fleeing
I press you drunkenly more firmly to my breast,
Oh what holds me more strongly—Do you know, by best one?

The Ideal Peace

We present this work in honor of the 210th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Heinrich von Kleist
German
1777 – 1811

 

When the War-wheel storms,
Men shout at the strife and take up arms,
Men, who cherish hearts in their breasts,
Hearts that the God of Love designed best.

They can surely rob me of nothing, I say,
Not that peace, which has held its sway,
Nor that innocence, or in God that faith,
Which forbids all terror, as well as hate.

Not the deep shade of the maple tree will they impede,
My source of comfort in the cornfield,
Not even harass the Nightingale’s oration,

That sets my quiet bosom in sensation.

My Young Days Were Oppressed with Cares

We present this work in honor of the 230th anniversary of the poet’s death.

10-12 Karsch
Anna Louisa Karsch
German
1722 – 1791

 

My young days were oppressed with cares,
On summer mornings I sat there,
Sighing my poor stammered song.
Not for a young man was my melody,
No! for God who the crowds of men does see
As if they were an anthill’s throng.
Without emotions, as I’ve often said,
Without affection, I was wed,
Became a mother, as in times of war
A young girl would not trust love’s bliss,

On whom a soldier forced his kiss,
Whose army reigned as conqueror.

 

Translation by S.L. Cocalis

Come, My Soul, Awake, ‘Tis Morning

In honor of German Unity Day, we present this work by one of Germany’s most celebratory poets.

Friedrich von Canitz
German
1654 – 1699

 

Come, my soul, awake, ‘t is morning,
Day is dawning
O’er the earth, arise and pray;
Come, to Hime who made this splendour
Thou must render
All thy feeble pow’rs can pay.

Soul, thy incense also proffer;
Thou shouldst offer
Praise to Him, who from thy head
Kept afar the storms of sorrow,
And the morrow
Finds the night in peace hath fled.

Bid Him bless what thou art doing,
If pursuing
Some good aim; but if there lurks
Ill intent in thine endeavour,
May He ever
Thwart and turn thee from thy works.

From God’s glances shrink thou never,
Meet them ever;
Who submits him to His grace,
Finds that earth no sunshine knoweth
Such as gloweth
O’er his pathway all his days.

Wakenest thou again to sorrow,
Oh! then borrow
Strength from Him, whose sun-like might
On the mountain-summit tarries,
And yet carries
To the vales their mirth and light.

Pray that when thy life is closing,
Calm reposing
Thou mayst die, and not in pain;
That, the night of death departed,
Thou, glad-bearted,
Mayst behold the Sun again.

 

Translation by Catherine Winkworth

departure

We present this work in honor of the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death.

May Ayim
German
1960 – 1996

 

what should the last words be
fare-well see you again
sometime somewhere?
what should the last deeds be
a last letter a phone call
a soft song?
what should the last wish be
forgive me
forget me not
I love you?
what should the last thought be
thank you?
thank you

 

Translation by Dagmar Schultz