Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Liebesfruhling by Friedrich Ruckert

Longtime readers know that I generally share something that's on my mind. And like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

Today, I'm sharing with you a poem by German poet Friedrich Rückert, which I first learned as a lied, a poem set to music. The version I was just singing in the shower was set by Robert Schumann in a piece called Widmung ("Dedication"), which was the first of a set of songs using poems by Rückert,Goethe, Byron, Burns and more. The name of the complete song cycle (Opus 25) was Myrthen, meaning "Myrtle", and the songs were a wedding present for Schumann's wife, Clara Wieck.

First, the original German, for them that care to read it:

Today's poem was originally an unnamed poem from a collection of poems called Liebesfrühling ("Dawn of Love") by Friedrich Rückert

Du meine Seele, du mein Herz,
Du meine Wonn, o du mein Schmerz,
Du meine Welt, in der ich lebe,
Mein Himmel du, darein ich schwebe,
O du mein Grab, in das hinab
Ich ewig meinen Kummer gab.
Du bist die Ruh, du bist der Frieden,
Du bist der Himmel mir beschieden.
Daß du mich liebst, macht mich mir wert,
Dein Blick hat mich vor mir verklärt,
Du hebst mich liebend über mich,
Mein guter Geist, mein bessres Ich!

And now, my attempt at a translation, based on what I remember translating back in the day (when I was a voice major in college). It may not be as poetical as some translations, but I think it's pretty darn close to the original wording/meaning auf Deutsch:

You my soul, you my heart,
you my rapture, o you my pain,
you my world in which I live,
my heaven you, in which I float,
o you my grave, into which
I always put all my grief.
You are rest, you are peace,
you are sent to me from heaven.
That you love me makes me more worthy,
Your glance has transfigured me,
you have me loving beyond myself,
my good spirit, my better self!

And here, for those interested, is a link to the incomparable Jessye Norman singing this lovely poem. I don't understand why there are jellyfish behind her, but I can assure you that she sings it gloriously.

1 comment:

Dr. Zaius said...


What a joy to find this blog post. My wife and I are interested in Ruckert for good reason: Her great-great-great grandfather -- we're yet not certain on the number of "greats" -- is Friedrich Ruckert (the name has been Anglicized to "Rueckert" in America to accommodate the umlaut).

It is pleasing beyond words to know that the powerful verses of Ruckert still move people in the 21st Century. At this very moment, we are listening to the music of Mahler, who was greatly inspired by the beautiful poetry of Friedrich Ruckert. We still have a lot to learn of the man in our heritage, but you've helped paint a fuller picture. If you'd like to contact us, here's an email:

Jim Lakely and Jackie Rueckert Lakely
Pasadena, Calif.