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In des Sees Wogenspiele
Fallen durch den Sonnenschein
Sterne, ach, gar viele, viele,
Flammend leuchtend stets hinein.
Wenn der Mensch zum See geworden,
In der Seele Wogenspiele
Fallen aus des Himmels Pforten
Sterne, ach, gar viele, viele.
In the swelling of the lake’s waves,
Through the sunshine fall
Stars, oh, so many, many,
Flaming brightly down upon us.
When humankind and the lake are one,
In the soul’s swelling waves,
There will fall from Heaven’s gates
Stars, oh, so many, many.
–Franz Seraph Ritter von Bruchmann, Am See (ca. 1822)(S.H. transl.)
Franz von Bruchmann, the son of a successful merchant who moved from Cologne to Vienna at some point during the Napoleonic era, was a contemporary of Franz Schubert’s, and probably attended secondary school together with him. He was a typical figure of the early Romantic movement, inspired by nature, strongly influenced by Goethe and then the Schlegel brothers and Schelling. He seems to have renounced his family’s Catholicism around the time he was composing this poem, instead turning to the pantheistic views of the Schlegels. This poem shows that, highlighting the relationship between man and nature, especially in the line “wenn der Mensch zum See geworden,” literally, “when the human has become the sea.” Bruchmann was not known as a poet, but he was an enthusiastic sponsor of Schubert, hosting musical evenings (Schubertiade) at his home in Vienna.
This Lied is a prominent example of Schubert’s ability to produce wonders from unassuming and naïve poetical material. His music is exceptionally simple, and all the same hypnotic. It beautifully evokes the sound of waves lapping at the lakeside and Schubert brilliantly uses the singer’s human voice to present the soul “flammend leuchtend” (“flaming brightly”), just as the piano is used to emulate the waves, preserving the simply dichotomy of the poetic concept. It seems that Schubert has also tinkered a bit with the conclusion of the poem, adding an extra “viele” for emphasis, but he uses this in a very clever way in the musical composition, drifting off into a infinite world of dreams.
Listen to Ian Bostridge perform Franz Schubert’s setting of the poem:
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
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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.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Average exam score, in a SUNY-Fredonia study, for students who only listened to a podcast of their professor’s lecture:
Boys in Taiwan are likelier than girls to vomit in order to lose weight.
Hundreds of women in yoga pants marched through Barrington, Rhode Island, to defend their right to wear the garment, and Trump vowed to sue every woman accusing him of sexual assault. “I look so forward to doing that,” he said.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."