Friday, April 30, 2010

May Night

In advance of the month of May, here is the great Lotte Lehmann singing one of Brahms's loveliest songs, "Die Mainacht." The text is a pre-Romantic poem (by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty, 1748-1776) which is nonetheless steeped in the major concerns of German Romanticism:  the night landscape, the protagonist's alienation, and his longing for the absent, or perhaps nonexistent, beloved.   This translation was made by composer Leonard Lehrman:

When the silvery moon beams through the shrubs
And over the lawn scatters its slumbering light,
And the nightingale sings,
I walk sadly through the woods.

I guess you're happy, fluting nightingale,
For your wife lives in one nest with you,
Giving her singing spouse
A thousand faithful kisses.

Shrouded by foliage, a pair of doves
Coo their delight to me;
But I turn away seeking darker shadows,
And a lonely tear flows.

When, o smiling image that like dawn
Shines through my soul, shall I find you on earth?
And the lonely tear flows trembling,
Burning, down my cheek.

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