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Spring passes into summer, and for this verdant Sunday, no music could be more sublime, inspiring and transporting than this. It reminds us of the power of poets to speak of the beauty of the world in terms that stretch across the bounds of time, and the power of composers to vest their words with still greater depth. Still there is an amazing tension in this work. Rückert’s language wells with passion and is plainly a composition of temporal love. But Schubert has transposed the work into an ethereal world of spirit and faith with music which is a marvel of simplicity, classical and romantic at once–music that soothes like a balm applied to an open wound. The song is haunting.
Below, an original translation of Friedrich Rückert’s poem, followed by a performance by soprano Elisabeth Schumann from 1932. One hearing is never enough.
Du bist die Ruh,
Der Friede mild,
Die Sehnsucht du
Und was sie stillt.
Ich weihe dir
Voll Lust und Schmerz
Zur Wohnung hier
Mein Aug und Herz.
Kehr ein bei mir,
Und schliesse du
Still hinter dir
Die Pforten zu.
Treib andern Schmerz
Aus dieser Brust!
Voll sei dies Herz
Von deiner Lust.
Von deinem Glanz
0 füll es ganz!
You are the calm,
The restful peace:
You are my longing and
what makes it cease.
With passion and pain
To you I give
My eye and heart
Are yours to live.
Enter here and close
Quietly behind you
the gates of your
All other grief
You dispel from my breast:
My heart swells
With the love of you.
Your brightness alone
Lights the canopy of my eyes
Oh, fill it fully!
–Friedrich Rückert, Du bist die Ruh (1822)
Franz Schubert, Du bist die Ruh DV 776 (1823):
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Notes on South Africa’s failed revolution
“I will never know what goes on in your mind, or what that shield of a smile behind which we try to advance should tell us.”