Monday, January 11, 2016

Fairy Tale In Verse

In a local branch of Age Concern I came across an LP on the old Camden label. It was entitled simply Brahms Liede. I paid for it and brought it home full of anticipation. I am very keen on Schubert and like particularly the Winterreise. These liede by Brahms were all new to me. What was so fascinating was that I did not recognise any of the poets. Frustratingly there were no translations, only the original poems in German. I listened to the LP and made a CD of it. Then with the help of my German dictionary I set about working out what the songs were about. Eventually I managed to come up with some translations. This one by Dieter Rihm (with the date 1858) has a beautiful lilting rising melody and haunting rhythmic accompaniment on piano. I have not been able to track down Dieter Rihm though I assume him to be a little known, perhaps unpublished poet who was a friend of the composer.

It is called Fabel in Versen which means Fairy Tale in Verse.

There was a town of noble heritage,

A church, shops, thatched roofs with spiral chimneys,

A hill that sloped down to a landing stage.

I see white blossoms drifting on the breeze,

The pleasant boredom of the boats in Summer,

How Autumn’s setting sun and fiery leaves

Influence the lake with bronze, how it grows calmer.

I see the stillness deep Winter conceives


When in the lake an image of the town

Appears: sloping roofs, smoke in blue air,

The shops closed-up, the church’s gentle spire,

This holiday, pointing both up and down

Into the water, which holds as in a mirror

Good will for everyone, both here and there.



Lucy said...

I've come back to this a few times, finding its bright, lyrical word-picture enchanting, soothing and refreshing. There's a complete, rounded quality about it, it makes me think of an old plate I used to have, a wall ornament with a Germanic sort of townscape in relief contained within it, the concave circle giving it an appearance of enhanced depth.

Good to see you here again.

Lucas said...

Many thanks for your comment. I can see the old plate in my mind: it seems to represent something which is real yet mythical and so not quite normal. There are I think myths of towns that appear at only certain times of year... Glockenora?
Hope to post more soon.