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Auf Flügeln des Gesanges,
Herzliebchen, trag ich dich fort,
Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges,
Dort weiß ich den schönsten Ort;
Dort liegt ein rotblühender Garten
Im stillen Mondenschein,
Die Lotosblumen erwarten
Ihr trautes Schwesterlein.
Die Veilchen kichern und kosen,
Und schaun nach den Sternen empor,
Heimlich erzählen die Rosen
Sich duftende Märchen ins Ohr.
Es hüpfen herbei und lauschen
Die frommen, klugen Gazelln,
Und in der Ferne rauschen
Des heiligen Stromes Well’n.
Dort wollen wir niedersinken
Unter dem Palmenbaum,
Und Liebe und Ruhe trinken,
Und träumen seligen Traum.
Upon wings of song,
my dearest one, I’ll transport you
to the Ganges plains,
Where I know the most lovely spot.
There is a garden of red blooms,
and in the solemn moonlight,
the lotus flowers await
Their devoted little sister.
The violets giggle and cuddle,
and stare up at the stars above,
Secretly the roses recite
Their fragant fairy tales.
The pious, smart gazelles,
Leap up and listen;
and in the distance whisper
The waves of a holy stream.
There we will lie down,
under the palm-tree,
and drink of love and peace
And dream our sacred dream.
–Heinrich Heine, Auf Flügeln des Gesanges from Buch der Lieder: Lyrisches Intermezzo, Nr. ix (1827)(S.H. transl.) in: Sämtliche Schriften vol. 1, p. 78 (K. Briegleb ed. 1968).
Listen to Victoria de los Ángeles sing Felix Mendelssohn’s “Auf den Flügeln des Gesanges,” no. 3 from his opus 34, set to the poem by Heinrich Heine. Mendelssohn makes one modest change in the poem, dropping a syllable to turn “heiligen” into “heilgen.” Throughout Heine’s poetry we see the struggle between the palm tree and the evergreen, the ironic and subtle suggestion that he is a transplanted Middle Easterner with romantic sentiments more suitable to a hotter clime. Mendelssohn does a bit with this, but his Lied style is pure, simple and extremely beautiful. Happy two hundredth birthday to Felix Mendelssohn.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Amount paid last fall for a Ford Escort driven by Pope John Paul II:
92 percent of Mexicans are relaxed by a pleasant-smelling bedroom.
Swedish biologists studying coercive mating in mosquitofish discovered that females’ brains get larger as males’ genitals get longer, and male Madagascar hissing cockroaches were found to attract mates with either their enlarged testicles or their enlarged horns.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."