No Comment, Quotation — February 8, 2009, 6:50 am

Heine/Mendelssohn: Upon the Wings of Song

nanette-heine

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.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2015

Dressed to Kill

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Wrong Prescription?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Travel Day

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Fugue State

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One Day Less

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Avian Voices·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The mockingbird’s bath is an orgy of thrashing and writhing about. When he has finished, one of the innocents alights on the rim of the basin and looks with disbelief at the thimble of water remaining.”
Illustration by Eric Hanson
[Browsings]
Before the War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’m worried that what the Houthis did to push Yemen into a civil conflict in September 2014, the Saudis may end up doing again when they end their campaign by eliminating the Houthis.”
Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Speakeasy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In order to understand how Marty’s could survive as an institution, I returned a year after my first visit to spend a week at what was sure to be the world’s bleakest comedy club.”
Photograph by Mike Slack
Post
The Lost Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I had first encountered some of these volumes—A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Giver—as a child, and during adolescence, they registered as postcards from a homeland recently abandoned.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Wrong Prescription?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whatever the slogans suggested, the A.C.A. was never meant to include everyone.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery

Estimated cost of the environmental damage caused each year by the world’s 3,000 largest companies:

$2,200,000,000,000

Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.

Beekeepers began extracting 1 million honeybees living beneath the siding of a house in New York State.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today