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

Leaves in the Wind

We present this work in honor of the 115th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Princess Mathilde of Bavaria
German
1877 – 1906

 

The withered leaves of Autumn, in golden whirlpools light,
Were dancing in the sunshine of Summer’s dying day,
And yet their dancing seemed to me their agonizing flight
From darkness and oblivion, and mouldering decay.

The hag that sweeps the pavement, with ruthless broom unkind,
Swept up the joyful dancers, and, muttering at their play,
She caught the helpless beings, as many as she could find,
And, mingled with the dust and filth, she swept them all away.

 

Translation by John Heard, Jr.

The Burning of the Law

07-15 Meir
Meir of Rothenburg
German
c. 1215 – 1293

 

Ask, is it well, O thou consumed of fire,

With those that mourn for thee,
That yearn to tread thy courts, that sore desire
Thy sanctuary;

That, panting for thy land’s sweet dust, are grieved,

And sorrow in their souls,
And by the flames of wasting fire bereaved,
Mourn for thy scrolls;

That grope in shadow of unbroken night,

Waiting the day to see
Which o’er them yet shall cast a radiance bright,

And over thee?

Ask of the welfare of the man of woe,
With breaking heart, in vain

Lamenting ever for thine overthrow,
And for thy pain;

Of him that crieth as the jackals cry,
As owls their moaning make,

Proclaiming bitter wailing far and nigh;
Yea, for thy sake.

And thou revealed amid a heavenly fire,

By earthly fire consumed,
Say how the foe unscorched escaped the pyre

Thy flames illumed!

How long shalt thou that art at ease abide

In peace, unknown to woe,
While o’er my flowers, humbled from their pride,

Thy nettles grow?

Thou sittest high exalted, lofty foe!

To judge the sons of God;
And with thy judgments stern dost bring them low

Beneath thy rod.

Yea, more, to burn the Law thou durst decree
God’s word to banish hence:

Then blest be he who shall award to thee
Thy recompense!

Was it for this, thou Law, my Rock of old
Gave thee with flames begirt,

That in thine after-days should fire seize hold
Upon thy skirt?

O Sinai! was it then for this God chose
Thy mount of modest height,

Rejecting statelier, while on thee arose
His glorious light?

Wast thou an omen that from noble state

The Law should lowly be?
And lo! a parable will I relate

Befitting thee.

Tis of a king I tell, who sat before

The banquet of his son

And wept: for ‘mid the mirth he death foresaw;

So thou hast done.

Cast off thy robe; in sackcloth folds of night,

O Sinai! cover thee;
Don widow’s garb, discard thy raiment bright

Of royalty.

Lo, I will weep for thee until my tears

Swell as a stream and flow
Unto the graves where thy two princely seers

Sleep calm below:

Moses; and Aaron in the Mountain Hor;

I will of them inquire:
Is there another to replace this Law

Devoured of fire?

O thou third month most sacred! woe is me

For treason of the fourth,

Which dimmed the sacred light that shone from thee

And kindled wrath;

And brake the tablets, yea, and still did rage:

And lo! the Law is burnt!
Ye sinful! is not this the twofold wage

Which ye have earnt?

Dismay hath seized upon my soul; how, then,

Can food be sweet to me,
When, O thou Law, I have beheld base men

Destroying thee?

They cast thee out as one despised, and burn

The wealth of God Most High;
They whom from thine assembly thou wouldst spurn

From drawing nigh.

I cannot pass along the highway more,
Nor seek thy ways forlorn;

How do thy paths their loneliness deplore!
Lo! how they mourn!

The mingled cup shall taste as honey sweet
Where tears o’erbrim the wine;

Yea, and thy chains upon my shackled feet
Are joy divine.

Sweet would it be unto mine eyes alway

A rain of tears to pour,
To sob and drench thy sacred robes, till they

Could hold no more.

But lo! my tears are dried, when, fast out-poured.

They down my cheeks are shed;
Scorched by the fire within: because thy Lord
Hath turned and fled.

Taking His holy treasure, He hath made

His journey far away;
And with Him hath not thy protecting shade

Vanished for aye?

And I am desolate and sore bereft,

Lo! a forsaken one:
Like a sole beacon on a mountain left,

A tower alone.

I hear the voice of singers now no more,
Silence their song hath bound;

The strings are broken which on harps of yore
Breathed forth sweet sound.

In sackcloth I will clothe and sable band,

For well-beloved by me

Were they whose lives were many as the sand

The slain of thee.

I am astonied that the day’s fair light

Yet shineth brilliantly
On all things: it is ever dark as night

To me and thee.

Send with a bitter cry to God above
Thine anguish, nor withhold:

Ah! that He would remember yet His love,
His troth of old!

Gird on the sackcloth of thy misery

For that devouring fire,
Which burst forth ravenous on thine and thee

With wasting dire.

E’en as thy Rock hath sore afflicted thee,

He will assuage thy woe,
Will turn again the tribes’ captivity,

And raise the low.

Yet shalt thou wear thy scarlet raiment choice,
And sound the timbrels high,

And yet amid the dancers shalt rejoice
With gladdened cry.

My neart shall be uplifted on the day
Thy Rock shall be thy light,

When He shall make thy gloom to pass away,
Thy darkness bright.

 

Translation by Nina Davis

The Rose Garland

06-09 Klopstock
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
German
1724 – 1803

 

In the shade of spring I found her
then with garlands of roses bound her;
she did not feel it and slumbered on.

I looked at her: my life hung
upon her life with this glance;
I truly felt it, and knew it not.

But speechlessly I whispered to her
and rustled with the rose garlands;
then she woke from slumber.

She looked at me; her life hung
upon my life with this one glance
and around us rose Elysium.