The Golden Harp

Song Cycle by Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947)

Word count: 644

German (Deutsch) translation: Die goldene Harfe

1. Invocation - I am here to sing thee songs [sung text not yet checked]

I am here to sing thee songs.
In this hall of thine I have a corner seat.

In thy world I have no work to do;
My useless life can only break out 
in tunes without a purpose.

When the hour strikes for thy silent worship
at the dark temple of midnight,
command me, my master, to stand before thee to sing.

When in the morning air,
the golden harp is tuned,
honour me, commanding my presence.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Je suis ici pour chanter des chants", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Beloved - If you speakest not [sung text not yet checked]

If thou speakest not
I will fill my heart with thy silence
and endure it.
I will keep still
and wait like the night
with starry vigil 
and its head bent low with patience.
The morning will surely come,
the darkness will vanish,
and thy voice pour down
in golden streams
breaking through the sky.
Then thy words will take wing
in songs from every one
of my birds' nests,
and thy melodies
will break forth
in flowers in all
my forest groves.

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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
  • SWE Swedish (Svenska) (Andrea Butenschön) , first published 1915

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Prayer - This is my prayer [sung text not yet checked]

This is my prayer to thee, my lord - 
strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. 
Give me the strength lightly 
to bear my joys and sorrows. 
Give me the strength 
to make my love fruitful in service. 
Give me the strength 
never to disown the poor 
or bend my knees before insolent might. 
Give me the strength to raise my mind 
high above daily trifles. 
And give me the strength 
to surrender my strength 
to thy will with love.

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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. Light, my light

Note: this is a multi-text setting


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


Yes, I know, this is nothing but thy love,
O beloved of my heart --
this golden light that dances upon the leaves, 
these idle clouds sailing across the sky, 
this passing breeze leaving 
its coolness upon my forehead.

The morning light has flooded my eyes --
this is thy message to my heart.
Thy face is bent from above, 
thy eyes look down on my eyes, 
and my heart has touched thy feet.

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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]

5. Thou art - Thou art the sky [sung text not yet checked]

Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well.

O thou beautiful, there in the nest is thy love 
that encloses the soul with colours and sounds and odours.

There comes the morning 
with the golden basket in her right hand 
bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth.

And there comes the evening 
over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, 
through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace 
in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.

But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul 
to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. 
There is no day nor night, nor form nor colour, 
and never, never a word.

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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]

6a. My Tears of Sorrow - Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls [sung text not yet checked]

Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls 
for thy neck with my tears of sorrow.

The stars have wrought their anklets of light 
to deck thy feet, 
but mine will hang upon thy breast.

Wealth and fame come from thee 
and it is for thee to give or to withhold them. 
But this my sorrow is absolutely mine own, 
and when I bring it to thee as my offering 
thou rewardest me with thy grace.

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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]

6b. Death, my death, come and whisper to me [sung text not yet checked]

O thou the last fulfilment of life, 
Death, my death, come and whisper to me!
Day after day I have kept watch for thee; 
for thee have I borne the joys and pangs of life.
All that I am, that I have, that I hope 
and all my love have ever flowed towards thee 
in depth of secrecy. 
One final glance from thine eyes 
and my life will be ever thine own.
The flowers have been woven and the garland 
is ready for the bridegroom. 
After the wedding the bride shall leave her home
and meet her lord alone 
in the solitude of night.

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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]

7. Salutation - In one salutation to thee, my God [sung text not yet checked]

In one salutation to thee, my God, 
let all my senses spread out 
and touch this world at thy feet.
Like a rain-cloud of July 
hung low with its burden of unshed showers 
let all my mind bend down at thy door 
in one salutation to thee.
Let all my songs gather together 
their diverse strains into a single current 
and flow to a sea of silence 
in one salutation to thee.
Like a flock of homesick cranes 
flying night and day 
back to their mountain nests 
let all my life take its voyage 
to its eternal home 
in one salutation to thee.

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

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]