by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)
Translation © by Bertram Kottmann

There's a certain slant of light
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
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.

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 76

’s ist ein gewisses schräges Licht
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
’s ist ein gewisses schräges Licht
an Winternachmittagen,
das auf uns liegt wie das Gewicht
von Sang in Kathedralen.

Es fügt uns eine Wunde zu,
doch Narben sieht man nicht,
hingegen innern Widerspruch,
wo Wesentliches liegt.

Niemand es zu erklären weiß -
versiegelt ist’s, Verzweiflung, -
es ist ein kaiserliches Leid,
geschickt uns von der Luft.

Und rückt es an, dann horcht das Land, 
Schatten den Atem halten
weicht es, so ist’s, als sähe man
des Todes fernes Walten.

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  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2018 by Bertram Kottmann, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Bertram Kottmann.  Contact: BKottmann (AT)

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This text was added to the website: 2018-06-22
Line count: 16
Word count: 79