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Emily Dickinson Songs

Word count: 794

Song Cycle by Robert F. Baksa (b. 1938)

German (Deutsch) translation: Lieder auf Gedichte von Emily Dickinson (Bertram Kottmann)

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1. Much madness is divinest sense [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Much madness is divinest sense
To [a]1 discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane,
Demur, - you're straightaway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.


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1 Langert : "the"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. I took my power in my hand [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): DUT GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Wim Reedijk) , "Met alle kracht die ik bezat", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I took my power in my hand.
And went against the world;
'T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.

I aimed my pebble, but myself
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. What inn is this [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


What inn is this
Where for the night
Peculiar traveller comes?
Who is the landlord?
Where the maids?
Behold, what curious rooms!
No ruddy fires on the hearth,
No brimming tankards flow.
Necromancer, landlord,
Who are these below?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. I died for beauty [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
"And I for truth, - the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The soul selects her own society [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts [the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude]2 no more.

Unmoved, she notes the [chariot's]2 pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I've known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Getty: "the door,/ To her divine majority/ Present"
2 Getty: "chariots"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. A shady friend for torrid days [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A shady friend for torrid days
Is easier to find
Than one of higher temperature
For frigid hour of mind.

The vane a little to the east
Scares muslin souls away;
If broadcloth breasts are firmer
Than those of organdy,

Who is to blame? The weaver?
Ah! the bewildering thread!
The tapestries of paradise
So notelessly are made!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. I'm nobody [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER ITA

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Ich bin ein Niemand! Wer bist Du?", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Io non sono nessuno, e tu?", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd [banish us]1, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell [your]2 name the livelong [day]3
To an admiring bog!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bacon, G. Coates: "advertise"
2 Bacon, G. Coates: "one's
3 Bacon, G. Coates: "June"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Two butterflies went out at noon [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Two butterflies went out at noon
And waltzed above a stream,
Then stepped straight through the firmament
And rested on a beam;

And then together bore away
Upon a shining sea, -
Though never yet, in any port,
Their coming mentioned be.

If spoken by the distant bird,
If met in ether sea
By frigate or by merchantman,
Report was not to me.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. Heart! we will forget him [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): CAT FRE GER ITA

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Cor, l’oblidarem", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Mon cœur, nous l'oublierons", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Heart, we will forget him
You and I, tonight.
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me,
That I [my thoughts may dim]1;
Haste! lest while you're lagging,
I may remember him!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 another version (Dickinson): "may straight begin"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. No matter - now - Sweet [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


No matter - now - Sweet -
But when I'm Earl -
Won't you wish you'd spoken
To that dull Girl? 

Trivial a Word - just -
Trivial - a Smile -
But won't you wish you'd spared one
When I'm Earl? 

I shan't need it - then -
Crests - will do -
Eagles on my Buckles -
On my Belt - too -

Ermine - my familiar Gown -
Say - Sweet - then
Won't you wish you'd smiled - just -
Me upon?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

11. Poor little heart! [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Poor little heart!
Did they forget thee?
Then dinna care! Then dinna care!

Proud little heart!
Did they forsake thee?
Be debonair! Be debonair!

Frail little heart!
I would not break thee:
Could'st credit me? Could'st credit me?

Gay little heart!
Like morning glory
Thou'll wilted be; thou'll wilted be!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

12. There's a certain slant of light [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'T is the seal, despair, -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

13. The morns are meeker than they were [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER ITA

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Herbst", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

14. When night is almost done [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When Night is almost done --
And Sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the Spaces --
It's time to smooth the Hair --

And get the Dimples ready --
And wonder we could care
For that old -- faded Midnight --
That frightened -- but an Hour --


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

15. Who robbed the woods [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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