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Wir sind durch Not und Freude
Gegangen Hand in Hand:
Vom Wandern ruhen wir beide
Nun überm stillen Land. [Read more…]
Through trouble and joy we have
walked hand in hand:
we can rest from our travels
now, above the quiet country-side.
The valleys fade away around us,
the sky grows dark,
Only two larks still rise
dreaming into the fragrant air.
Come here, and let them fly
Soon comes the time for our rest
and we must not lose our way
in this loneliness.
O broad, quiet peace!
So deep in the evening’s gleam,
How exhausted we are with our travels—
can this perhaps be death?
–Josef von Eichendorff, “Im Abendrot” from Frühling und Liebe (1841) (S.H. transl.)
Listen to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sing the Richard Strauss setting of Eichendorff’s “Im Abendrot” from Vier letzte Lieder (1946) with George Szell and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. In Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost he commends this song with the following words:
For the profundity that is achieved not by complexity but by clarity and simplicity. For the purity of the sentiment about death and parting and loss. For the long melodic line spinning out and the female voice soaring and soaring. For the repose and composure and gracefulness and the intense beauty of the soaring. For the ways one is drawn into the tremendous arc of heartbreak. The composer drops all masks and, at the age of eighty-two, stands before you naked. And you dissolve.
This is without a doubt one of the greatest works of the German art song repertoire, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s performance knows no match.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“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.”