No Comment, Quotation — November 8, 2009, 7:06 am

Freiligrath – O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst

womanlying

O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst!
O lieb, so lang du lieben magst!
Die Stunde kommt, die Stunde kommt,
Wo du an Gräbern stehst und klagst!

Und sorge, daß dein Herze glüht
Und Liebe hegt und Liebe trägt,
So lang ihm noch ein ander Herz
In Liebe warm entgegenschlägt!

Und wer dir seine Brust erschließt,
O tu ihm, was du kannst, zulieb!
Und mach ihm jede Stunde froh,
Und mach ihm keine Stunde trüb!

Und hüte deine Zunge wohl,
Bald ist ein böses Wort gesagt!
O Gott, es war nicht bös gemeint -
Der Andre aber geht und klagt.

O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst!
O lieb, so lang du lieben magst!
Die Stunde kommt, die Stunde kommt,
Wo du an Gräbern stehst und klagst!

Dann kniest du nieder an der Gruft,
Und birgst die Augen, trüb und naß
- sie sehn den Andern nimmermehr -
In’s lange, feuchte Kirchhofsgras.

Und sprichst: O schau auf mich herab
Der hier an deinem Grabe weint!
Vergib, daß ich gekränkt dich hab!
O Gott, es war nicht bös gemeint!

Er aber sieht und hört dich nicht,
Kommt nicht, daß du ihn froh umfängst;
Der Mund, der oft dich küßte, spricht
Nie wieder: ich vergab dir längst!

Er that’s, vergab dir lange schon,
Doch manche heiße Träne fiel
Um dich und um dein herbes Wort -
Doch still – er ruht, er ist am Ziel!

O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst!
O lieb, so lang du lieben magst!
Die Stunde kommt, die Stunde kommt,
wo du an Gräbern stehst und klagst!

O love, as long as love you can,
O love, as long as love you may,
The time will come, the time will come
When you will stand at the grave and mourn!

Be sure that your heart burns,
And holds and keeps love
As long as another heart beats warmly
With its love for you

And if someone bears his soul to you
Love him back as best you can
Give his every hour joy,
Let him pass none in sorrow!

And guard your words with care,
Lest harm flow from your lips!
Dear God, I meant no harm,
But the loved one recoils and mourns.

O love, love as long as you can!
O love, love as long as you may!
The time will come, the time will come,
When you will stand at the grave and mourn.

You will kneel alongside the grave
And your eyes will be sorrowful and moist,
- Never will you see the beloved again -
Only the churchyard’s tall, wet grass.

You will say: Look at me from below,
I who mourn here alongside your grave!
Forgive my slights!
Dear God, I meant no harm!

Yet the beloved does not see or hear you,
He lies beyond your comfort;
The lips you kissed so often speak
Not again: I forgave you long ago!

Indeed, he did forgive you,
But tears he would freely shed,
Over you and on your unthinking word -
Quiet now! – he rests, he has passed.

O love, love as long as you can!
O love, love as long as you may!
The time will come, the time will come,
When you will stand at the grave and mourn.

Ferdinand Freiligrath, O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst (1845)(S.H. transl.)

Ferdinand Freiligrath was a tireless champion of freedom and civil liberties and a poet who sang the song of democracy in the face of repression. He was repeatedly forced into exile due to his active political engagement for democracy. In his celebrated 1977 address to the German parliament, historian Fritz Stern cited Freiligrath as a model for a little recalled but vital part of German history–the ever recurring popular rising for freedom and against the authoritarianism that held the nation in its lock for so many centuries. But this poem, one of the best known of his works, reflects a sort of sentimentalism typical for the poetry of the age. To modern ears it seems a bit trite and even saccharine. But it has a haunting quality. Franz Liszt composed what might be his best known Lied to this poem.

Listen to a reading of the Freiligrath poem by Marlene Dietrich and Maximilian Schell, from the 1984 documentary “Marlene.” She comments at the end that it is, perhaps, a bit corny and sentimental, but she clearly loves it.

Listen to a performance of Franz Liszt’s setting of the poem in a Lied from 1847, sung by Lia Origoni:

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

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

Burn Pits

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.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2016

Land of Sod

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Only an Apocalypse Can Save Us Now

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Watchmen

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Acceptable Losses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Home

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tennis Lessons

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Andrew Cockburn on the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, Alan Jacobs on the disappearance of Christian intellectuals, a forum on a post-Obama foreign policy, a story by Alice McDermott, and more
Artwork by Ingo Günther
Article
Land of Sod·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Photograph by Mike Slack
Article
The Watchmen·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Acceptable Losses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News

Chances that college students select as “most desirable‚” the same face chosen by the chickens:

49 in 50

Most of the United States’ 36,000 yearly bunk-bed injuries involve male victims.

In Italy, a legislator called for parents who feed their children vegan diets to be sentenced to up to six years in prison, and in Sweden, a woman attempted to vindicate her theft of six pairs of underwear by claiming she had severe diarrhea.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today