Gitanjali (Song Offerings)

Song Cycle by John Alden Carpenter (1876 - 1951)

Word count: 837

German (Deutsch) translation: Gitanjali - Sangesopfer ( Bertram Kottmann)

1. When I bring to you colour’d toys [sung text checked 1 time]

When I [bring to you colour'd]1 toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colours 
On clouds, on water, and why flow'rs are painted in tints:
When I give colour'd toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance,
[I truly know why there is]2 music in leaves,
And why waves send their chorus of voices
To the heart of the listening earth:
When I sing to make you dance.3

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands,
I know why there is honey in the cup of the flower
And why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice:
When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, 
I surely understand what pleasure streams 
from the sky in morning light, and what delight 
that is that is which the summer breeze 
brings to my body - when I kiss you to make you smile.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: in Gitanjali, the poem has no title; but in The Crescent Moon, its title is "When and why"
1 Carpenter: "bring you coloured"
2 Trotta: "I know why there's"
3 Trotta adds "We are free", and in the last repeat, "We are one."

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. On the day when death will knock at thy door [sung text checked 1 time]

On the day when death will knock at thy door,
what wilt thou offer to him?

Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life;
I will never let him go with empty hands.

All the sweet vintage of all my autumn days and summer nights,
all the earnings and gleanings of my busy life,
will I place before him at the close of my days
when death will knock at my door.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission [an adaptation]
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

3. The sleep that flits on baby's eyes[sung text checked 1 time]

The sleep that flits on baby's eyes - 
does anybody know from where it comes? 
Yes, there is a rumour that it has its dwelling 
where, in the fairy village among shadows of the forest 
dimly lit with glow-worms, 
there hang two timid buds of enchantment. 
From there it comes to kiss baby's eyes.

[ ... ]

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn[sung text checked 1 time]

I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn
uselessly roaming in the sky,
O my sun ever-glorious!
Thy touch has not yet melted my vapour,
making me one with thy light,
and thus I count months and years separated from thee.

If this be thy wish and if this be thy play,
then take this fleeting emptiness of mine,
paint it with colours, gild it with gold,
float it on the wanton wind 
and spread it in varied wonders.

And again, when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night,
I shall melt and vanish away in the dark,
or it may be in a smile of the white morning, 
in a coolness of purity transparent.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

5. On the seashore of endless worlds children meet[sung text checked 1 time]

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The infinite sky is motionless overhead
and the restless water is boisterous.
On the seashore of endless worlds 
the children meet with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand 
and they play with empty shells.
With withered leaves they weave their boats
and smilingly float them on the vast deep.
Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim, 
they know not how to cast nets.
Pearl fishers dive for pearls, 
merchants sail in their ships,
while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. 
They seek not for hidden treasures, 
they know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter, 
and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
Death-dealing waves sing 
meaningless ballads to the children,
even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with children, 
and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
Tempest roams in the pathless sky, 
ships get wrecked in the trackless water,
death is abroad and children play.
On the seashore of endless worlds 
is the great meeting of children.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

6. Light, my light [sung text checked 1 time]

Light, my light, the world-filling light,
the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life;
the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love;
the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.

The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light.
Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.

The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling,
and it scatters gems in profusion.

Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling,
and gladness without measure. 
The heaven's river has drowned its banks 
and the flood of joy is abroad.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting