by Friedrich Hölderlin (1770 - 1843)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Lange lieb' ich dich schon, möchte dich,...
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Lange lieb' ich dich schon, möchte dich, mir zur Lust,
  Mutter nennen, und dir schenken ein [kunstlos]1 Lied,
    [Du, der]2 Vaterlandsstädte
      Ländlichschönste, so viel ich sah.

Wie der Vogel des Walds über die Gipfel fliegt,
  Schwingt sich über den Strom, wo er vorbei dir glänzt,
    Leicht und kräftig die Brücke,
      Die von Wagen und Menschen tönt.

[Wie von Göttern gesandt, fesselt' ein Zauber einst
  Auf die Brücke mich an,]3 da ich vorüber ging,
    [Und herein in die Berge ]4
      Mir die reizende Ferne schien,

[Und der Jüngling, der Strom, fort in die Ebne zog,
  Traurigfroh, wie das Herz, wenn es, sich selbst zu schön,
    Liebend unterzugehen,
      In die Fluten der Zeit sich wirft.]3

[Quellen hattest du ihm, hattest dem Flüchtigen 
  Kühle Schatten geschenkt, und die Gestade sahn 
    All' ihm nach, und es bebte 
      Aus den Wellen ihr lieblich Bild.]5

[Aber schwer in das Tal hing die gigantische,
  Schiksalskundige Burg nieder bis auf den Grund,
    Von den Wettern zerrissen;
      Doch die ewige Sonne goß

Ihr verjüngendes Licht über das alternde
  Riesenbild, und umher grünte lebendiger
    Epheu; freundliche Wälder
      Rauschten über die Burg herab.]3

Sträuche blühten herab, bis wo im heitern Tal,
  An den Hügel gelehnt, oder dem Ufer hold,
    Deine fröhlichen Gassen
      Unter duftenden Gärten ruhn.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Eisler: "kunstloses"
2 Eisler: "Dir der"
3 omitted by Eisler.
4 Eisler: "fesselt' der Zauber auch mich, da herein in die Berge"
5 Eisler:
Du hast dem Flüchtigen
kühlenden Schatten geschenkt
und die Gestade sahen
ihm alle nach und es tönte
aus den Wellen das liebliche Bild.

Authorship

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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , title 1: "Ode to a city", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2017, (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: 32
Word count: 205

Ode to a city
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Long have I loved you. I should like, for my pleasure,
To call you "Mother" and to present to you an artless song,
To you, the most beautiful city of the Fatherland,
As far as I have seen.

As the bird of the forest flies over the peaks,
so the bridge lightly and strongly swings itself
across the river, there where [the river] gleams past you -
[the bridge] ringing with wagons and people.

As if sent by gods, an enchantment once bound me
to the bridge, as I walked the past,
the magic captured me as well
when the bewitching distance shone into the mountains for me.

And the youth, the river, travelled off into the lowlands,
sadly happy, as the heart, when, finding itself too beautiful,
throws itself, to perish in love,
into the floodwaters of time.

[...]1





But heavily into the valley hung the gigantic
castle that knows fate - down to the valley floor,
rent by the weather;
but the eternal sun poured

its rejuvenating light  over the aging
colossal edifice, and all about it grew living
ivy, friendly forests
soughed down over the castle.

Shrubs bloomed downward to the joyful valley
where, leaned against the hills or caressing the shore,
your merry streets
rest under scented gardens.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Translation of the Eisler verison:
You gave the fleeing one
cooling shadows,
and all the riverbanks gazed
after him.  And the lovely image
sounded from the waves.

Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2008 by Sharon Krebs, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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Based on

 

This text was added to the website: 2008-06-25
Line count: 29
Word count: 212