from Oberon

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

Christoph Martin Wieland
German
1733 – 1813

 

Now through the outward court swift speeds the knight ;
Within the second from his steed descends;
Along the third his pace majestic bends:
Where’er he enters, dazzled by his sight,
The guards make way, — his gait, his dress, his air,
A nuptial guest of highest rank declare.
Now he advances towards an ebon gate,
Where with drawn swords twelve Moors gigantic wait,
And piecemeal hack the wretch who steps unbidden there.
But the bold gesture and imperial mien Of Huon,
as he opes the lofty door, Drive back the swords that crossed his path before,
And at his entrance flamed with lightning sheen.
At once, with rushing noise, the valves unfold:
High throbs the bosom of our hero bold,
When, locked behind him, harsh the portals bray :
Through gardens decked with columns leads the way,
Where towered a gate incased with plates of massy gold.
There a large forecourt held a various race
Of slaves, a hapless race, sad harem slaves,
Who die of thirst ‘mid joy ‘s o’erflowing waves !
And when a man, whom emir honors grace,
Swells in his state before their hollow eye,
Breathless they bend, with looks that seem to die,
Beneath the weight of servitude oppressed ;
Bow down, with folded arms across the breast,
Nor dare look up to mark the pomp that glitters by.

Translation by Robyn Lowrie

The Haste of Love

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 425th birthday.

Martin Opitz
German
1597 – 1639

 

Ah, sweetheart, let us hurry
We still have time.
Delaying thus, we bury
Our mutual prime.

Beauty’s bright gift shall perish
As leaves grow sere;
All that we have and cherish
Shall disappear.

The cheek of roses fadeth
Gray grows the head;
And fire the eyes evadeth
And passion’s dead.

The mouth, love’s honeyed winner
Is formless, cold;
The hand, like snow, gets thinner
And thou art old!

So let us taste the pleasure
That youth endears,
Ere we are called to measure
The flying years.

Give, as thou lov’st and livest
Thy love to me,
Even though, in what thou givest
My loss should be!

Translation by Bayard Taylor

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.