Saturday, August 14, 2010

''Adieu, Heart's Love, Adieu!''

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Clemens Brentano

He built upon the mountain
      That rises in the North;
The tempest roars around him,
      And will not let him forth.
The clouds are full of blackness,
      The path is steep and bare,
O heart's love on the mountain,
      O would with thee I were!

O fair upon the mountain,
      Above the cloud and blast,
Where sky is warm and sunlit,
      And eagles hurry past!
My wings, alas! are broken,
      And lift me not, before
I go unto my heart's love,
      And enter at his door.

That I have built my dwelling
      High on the mountain's crown,
Alas! 'tis all my sorrow,
      No more may I come down.
The bolts and bars are rusted,
      And crumbled is the stair.
O heart's love in the valley,
      O would with thee I were!

O fair within the garden!
      O fair within the grove!
Where birds upon the branches
      Are singing of their love!
No flower have I to garland,
      No song to sing, before
I go unto my heart's love,
      And enter at her door.

And up the steep she presses,
      Nor heeds the bolts and bars,
And now her soul is wingèd,
      And borne up to the stars;
And higher yet, and higher
      To Him up in the blue,
Her faithful heart she carries,--
      Adieu, heart's love, adieu!

And down the steep he presses,
      And through the wood he goes,
And hears the shepherds' music,
      And sees the blowing rose.
And deeper yet, and deeper
      Beneath the grass and dew
His haughty heart reposes,--
      Adieu, heart's love, adieu!

-trans. Richard Garnett
-German title: Am Berge hoch in Lüften.

The poem is told in three voices. The first two stanzas are related in "her" voice, the voice of the beloved; the second two are told in "his" voice, that of the Romantic hero; and the last two in the voice of the omniscient narrator.

(Illustration is Carl Gustav Carus, Memorial Monument to Goethe, 1832.)

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