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Heavenman

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In a Castle

Up there at his look-out
The old knight has fallen asleep;
Rain-storms pass overhead,
And the wood stirs through the portcullis.
 
Beard and hair matted together,
Ruff and breast turned to stone,
For centuries he’s sat up there
In his silent cell.
 
Outside it’s quiet and peaceful,
All have gone down to the valley,
Forest birds sing lonely songs
In the empty window-arches.
 
Down there on the sunlit Rhine
A wedding-party’s sailing by,
Musicians strike up merrily,
And the lovely bride—weeps.
 
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder,
published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder
 

 

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Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), based on a poem by Richard Dehmel, describes a man and woman walking through a forest on a moonlit night. The woman has a dark secret... she's expecting the child of another man. The music goes through various stages, describing the sadness of the woman's confession, then the man reflects on the confession. Finally, a bright climax as the man expresses his acceptance and forgiveness of the woman.

 

 

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Twilight

Dusk is about to spread its wings,
The trees now shudder and stir,
Clouds drift by like oppressive dreams—
What can this dusk and dread imply?
 
If you have a fawn you favour,
Do not let her graze alone,
Hunters sound their horns through the forest,
Voices wander to and fro.
 
If here on earth you have a friend,
Do not trust him at this hour,
Though his eyes and lips be smiling,
In treacherous peace he’s scheming war.
 
That which wearily sets today,
Will rise tomorrow, newly born.
Much can go lost in the night—
Be wary, watchful, on your guard!
 
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder,
published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder
 
 
 
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