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Bernard Van Dieren: Songs . Lieder . Mélodies

by Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen

Rare songs from a unique, early 20th C. Anglo-Dutch composer.
Genre: Classical: Twentieth Century
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Last Days
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:04 $0.99
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2. Dream Pedlary
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
1:36 $0.99
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3. Spring Song of the Birds
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
0:54 $0.99
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4. Take, O, Take Those Lips Away
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
1:49 $0.99
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5. Rhapsodia
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:43 $0.99
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6. Weep You No More Sad Fountains
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
3:09 $0.99
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7. A Prayer
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:46 $0.99
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8. Frail the White Rose
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
0:58 $0.99
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9. Spring
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
1:55 $0.99
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10. Mon Bras Pressait Ta Taille Frèle
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:59 $0.99
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11. Spleen
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
3:07 $0.99
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12. À Cassandre
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
3:07 $0.99
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13. Der Asra
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:06 $0.99
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14. Mir Träumte Von Einem Königskind
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
2:06 $0.99
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15. Ich Wandelte Unter Den Bäumen
Sofie Van Lier & Paul Prenen
4:14 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“ … Van Dieren [wrote] some of the finest vocal music of our time” the critic Wilfrid Mellers remarked in 1936, the year Bernard van Dieren passed away. [1] Mellers was not alone in voicing esteem for Van Dieren’s songs. The composer-pianist Ronald Stevenson called them “some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century”. [2] And composer Kaikhosru Sorabji observed that Van Dieren’s vocal line was not only of great intrinsic beauty; but almost “sings itself,” with “all the agogic and expressive nuances of the words to which it is set.” [3] The American composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann (well known for his Hitchcock movie-scores) wrote of Van Dieren’s music, “I have been conducting Bernard van Dieren’s music quite steadily, and feel that one never reaches the end of the possibilities of his wonderful music.” [4] Despite all of this praise, Van Dieren’s music has yet to be discovered by the general public.

Read on for more information, and find the lyrics below.

Born and raised in Rotterdam, Holland, Bernard Van Dieren (1887-1936) came to London in 1909 with his partner Frida Kindler, a brilliant concert pianist and a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni (1866 –1924). Busoni would become Van Dieren’s close friend. While pursuing his career as a composer Van Dieren earned a living as a critic. [5] As he was a highly intelligent, multi-talented and charismatic man, Van Dieren made a profound impression on several young artists and intellectuals in London, among them sculptor Jacob Epstein, the literary-brothers Osbert Sitwell and Sacheverell Sitwell, the composer-critic Cecil Gray, and composer Philip Heseltine also known as Peter Warlock. Van Dieren wrote a monograph on Epstein, [6] and served as a model for some of his sculptures (The Risen Christ and a bust). Heseltine and Gray were so impressed by Van Dieren’s music that they wanted to study composition with him. They became his most loyal supporters.

Among the compelling qualities of Van Dieren’s musical style is its originality; his music does not sound like anybody else’s, and it is not easy to categorize. Most striking are his gift for melody and his intricate polyphonic textures built on chromatic harmony. Consistent with the early 20th C. zeitgeist Van Dieren renounced worn-out 19th C. formulas, and sought new ways to compose. But he did not seek renewal by rejecting tradition; instead he used old methods in a new way. He turned to the polyphonic procedures of the 16th C. madrigalists and to Palestrina for inspiration. Interestingly, this engagement coincided with the early music revival at the beginning of the 20th C. As to the significance of polyphony, Van Dieren was on the same page as his friend Busoni, who prophesized (in 1915) that melody would “triumph over all other compositional techniques,” and that “universal polyphony” would be “the final product of melodic writing, the mother of harmony and bearer of the idea.” [7]

Someone who never heard Van Dieren’s music, and is reading this, might get the impression that his art was regressive. That would not be quite right. If there is an influence, it is purely conceptual. Van Dieren hammered out a style uniquely his own. As baritone John Goss, who often performed Van Dieren’s songs, remarked: “… Van Dieren, like any other composer of original mind, said things in music that had not been said before and can never be said again.” [8]
Indeed, Van Dieren’s musical influences went well beyond the early madrigalists. He was no stranger to the music of his contemporaries and for a while explored the potentials of free atonality. He had high esteem for the music of Palestrina, Haydn, Donizetti, Bellini, Piccinni, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Liszt, Alkan, and Busoni, all of whom he studied and defended in his collected essays “Down Among the Dead Men”. [9] His chapter on Busoni, in which Van Dieren recorded fragments of their conversations, became a benchmark for later studies; it was, as Stevenson remarked, “the best thing on Busoni in the English language”. [10] Similarly, the obituaries Van Dieren wrote for Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) and Frederick Delius, published in The Musical Times of February 1931 and that of July 1934 respectively, offered valuable insights into the achievements of these composers. As for the title “Down Among the Dead Men,” Van Dieren probably borrowed it from an 18th C. drinking song, in which the term “dead men” stood for the emptied bottles.

Songwriting has been a recurrent activity throughout Van Dieren’s career. He wrote some sixty songs to English, French, German poetry, and one Dutch poem, depicting a great variety of moods, ranging from intimate contemplation and dreamy melancholy to lighthearted merriness and flamboyant exuberance. Heine, Hugo, Verlaine, Landor, Shakespeare, and Joyce can be counted among his favorite poets.
The beauty of Van Dieren’s vocal line and careful treatment of the prosody have already been mentioned, but his ability to express the emotional undertones of the poetry in music is also noteworthy.
In this context some aphorisms regarding songwriting Warlock published soon after he started studying with Van Dieren may be interesting. Assuming he had absorbed the teachings of “the old man” (as Warlock and Gray called Van Dieren among themselves), Warlock’s opinions may shed some light on Van Dieren’s ideas too. The criteria, as he put it, were as follows: ”If words are set to music, the music must be as independent an entity as the poem.” “The poem must be re-created rather than interpreted.” “To underline a poem word by word is the work of a misguided schoolmaster.” [11]
Whether these observations apply to Van Dieren’s approach or not, Van Dieren clearly did take pains to convey the poetic essence of the lyrics in his music, and did not stick to traditional pre-formulated musical schemes. As Gray explains: “… each [of Van Dieren’s works is] the final expression and perfected outcome of a whole train of thought… Each work differs both in aim and conception from every other one…” [12]

A general assessment of the methods Van Dieren used in the realization of his imaginative settings is risky, because for every generalization an exception can be found. An in-depth analysis would be needed, which would exceed the limited scope of this article. Still, some characteristic features can be summarized. His songs usually are through-composed, his melodies are graceful, agile and cantabile; his phrase rhythm is fluid and devoid of periodic cadences. Van Dieren almost invariably avoids key confirmation (often using unresolved 11th chords), and his harmonies flow chromatically into each other through the contrapuntal movement of the voices. But every now and then he does not hesitate to use unadulterated dominant-tonic solutions (Spring). The vocals and the piano often are drafted as two autonomous parts, although occasionally Van Dieren assigns a more supportive role to the piano part with close observance of the voice-leading of the harmonic progressions (Der Asra, Weep you no more sad fountains). In the musical textures he maintains a closely-knit motivic cohesion. Consistent with polyphonic notation, Van Dieren rarely writes bar-lines in his scores so as not to cross the independently moving voices.
In his lifetime, Van Dieren’s style was seen as enigmatic by some of his contemporaries (who clearly did not understand his music), but in a fairly recent study, benefiting from hindsight, the German musicologist Jürgen Schaarwächter perceived Van Dieren’s style as a special kind of Expressionism, which aimed to convey expression in form and sound. He sees a close proximity to the conceptions of Alban Berg. [13]

Apart from the songs, Van Dieren’s oeuvre consists of orchestral and choral works, six string quartets, various works for chamber music ensemble, a comic opera “The Tailor”, and piano pieces. Several of his scores were published in the 1920s and the early 1930s, these editions are all out of print now, and many scores remain unpublished. [14]

Although he was an individualist, Van Dieren was not an isolationist. He often visited Busoni in Berlin, where he met Edgard Varèse, Arnold Schönberg, and Paul Hindemith, among others; he joined the German branch of the International Composers Guild, founded in 1921 by Varèse, and he attended the contemporary music festivals in Germany, where some of his own works were performed in 1912 and during the 1920s. [15] Van Dieren’s friends and supporters helped promote his music, [16] and his works were increasingly performed in England as well. [17] [18] But the performances decreased after his early death in 1936 caused by a chronic kidney ailment.

As is usual with works that are new and original, Van Dieren’s music was initially received with mixed feelings by the press. It became subject of a debate as to whether it was the work of a genius or a misfit. After Van Dieren’s death and the death of his supporters, interest in his work faded. At present, his music is almost forgotten, and that is a pity. Still, Van Dieren has always been a “musician’s musician”, and his impact on British 20th C. musical life is undeniable. It is palpable in the works and testimonies of Cecil Gray, Peter Warlock, Constant Lambert, William Walton, Kaikhosru Sorabji, Denis ApIvor, Ronald Stevenson, among others.

I was introduced to Van Dieren's music by the Dutch violinist Willem Noske and the Scottish Van Dieren connoisseur Alastair Chisholm, who initiated a revival of Van Dieren's music in the early 1980s. Until that time Van Dieren was totally unknown in Holland (probably because he left the country before he had made a lasting mark on Dutch musical life). Pianist Paul Prenen and I gave a concert of Van Dieren’s songs at the Ysbreker in Amsterdam in 1982, and we recorded fifteen of his songs at the Odeon Concert Hall in Amsterdam in 1983. Our recording engineer was Dick Lucas. The record label BVHaast (now discontinued) released our album "Bernard van Dieren: Songs ˖ Lieder ˖ Mélodies" in 1984 in limited edition on LP. Graphic artist Peter te Bos designed the album cover. Recently mastering engineer Darcy Proper (Proper Prent Sound) has restored our recording from a DAT copy of the (lost) master tape, and has prepared it for the re-release of our album.

For me, studying Van Dieren’s songs has been a delightful journey. Singing them has been deeply gratifying. If you have not discovered Van Dieren’s songs yet, I would say: take a listen and enjoy.

Sofie van Lier, Amsterdam, June 15th, 2019

Footnotes:
[1] Wilfrid Mellers, 'Bernard van Dieren (1884 [recte 1887] - 1936): Musical Intelligence and "The New Language,"' Scrutiny, V/3 (Dec. 1936), p. 273.
[2] Ronald Stevenson, ‘A Composer Loyal To His Principles: Stevenson In Interview With Martin Anderson,’ Fanfare Magazine, V/18, No 5 (1995).
[3] Kaikhosru Sorabji, ‘Bernard van Dieren,' The New English Weekly IX/5 (1936), p. 92.
[4] Bernard Herrmann in a letter to Cecil Gray, 15 March 1945; quoted in: Stephen Lloyd, 'Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande,' Boydell & Brewer, 2014, p. 384.
[5] Van Dieren worked for the Dutch secret service during WW1, and later worked for a while at Philips UK.
[6] Bernard van Dieren, 'Epstein,' John Lane, The Bodley Head, London, 1920.
[7] Ferruccio Busoni, ‘Conclusion to the second part of the "Well-Tempered Clavier,"’ Bach Edition, 1915.
[8] John Goss, foreword to Cecil Gray’s unfinished biography of Van Dieren, p. VII.
[9] Published by Oxford University Press, 1935.
[10] See footnote 2.
[11] Philip Heseltine: ‘Predicaments Concerning Music,’ The New Age, no. 1287, vol. XX, n. 2, 10-5, 1917.
[12] Cecil Gray, ‘Van Dieren,’ A Survey of Contemporary Music, Oxford University Press, London, 1924, p. 223-224.
[13] Jürgen Schaarwächter, ‘Zwischen allen Stühlen. Bernard van Dieren: ein interkultureller Komponist von internationaler Bedeutung.‘ Jahrbuch der 27. Bachwochen Dill 2002, p.70.
[14] For a list of Van Dieren’s works and its publishers, see: Bardic Edition, https://www.bardic-music.com/. See also: Fred Tomlinson, ‘Warlock and Van Dieren with a Van Dieren Catalogue,’ Thames Publishing, London, 1978.
[15] “1st String Quartet” - Berlin, 1912; “Overture for Chamber Orchestra”- International Society for Contemporary Music, Berlin, 1922; “Overture for Chamber Orchestra” and “2nd String Quartet” - Donaueschingen Festival, July 1922; “4th String Quartet” - Musikfest Frankfurt, July 1927.
[16] See: Fred Tomlinson, ‘Warlock and Van Dieren,’ p.26 and p.32.
[17] Robert Williams - in his essay ‘Bernard van Dieren (1887-1936),' British Music I, 1979, p. 60 - traced 79 concerts (including the international performances), but assumes the number probably is incomplete.
[18] Performances of Van Dieren’s works in England until his death (selection): “Overture” and “Diaphony” conducted by Van Dieren at the Wigmore Hall, London, 1917; “Serenade” and extracts of “The Taylor” conducted by John Barbirolli at the Wigmore Hall, London, 1925; “Diaphony”- BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Clark, 1934; “Chinese Symphony - BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert in 1935; The Brosa Quartet and The International String Quartet performed Van Dieren’s string quartets at various occasions; the singers John Goss, Gerald Cooper, and the poet / singer Helen Rootham included Van Dieren’s songs in their recitals.

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The liner notes below were written by Alastair Chisholm for the first release of this album.
.
Bernard van Dieren (1887-1936) was one of a long series of musical pilgrims from mainland Europe who have settled in London, and influenced the course of English music. Van Dieren’s links with the avant-garde world of Busoni and Schönberg placed him in a unique position to become an artistic father-figure to some of the young English composers of the 1910s and 20s. They were captivated by his extraordinary personality, his apparently limitless range of knowledge, and his familiarity with the latest continental musical novelties.
Van Dieren was a born rebel, though a highly articulate and civilized one. He was as much an individualist as Charles Ives or Percy Grainger, but had little sympathy with their interest in the music of the common man. Instead, he was a deeply cultured aristocratic man, who regarded the European tradition from an adopted French viewpoint. He tended to question the long-held prejudices of the English musical establishment, and, while this endeared him to the young, the older generation viewed him with deep distrust.
During his lifetime, Van Dieren’s music was supported by a small, highly articulate group of younger English friends, who lost no opportunity to further interest in his work. Chief among his early friends in London was the sculptor Jacob Epstein. Through him, the influential Sitwell brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, were introduced to the Van Dieren’s, and they became staunch friends. Other important musical friends were the critic Cecil Gray, and the composers Peter Warlock, Constant Lambert and William Walton. By the early thirties, some of the smaller works of Van Dieren had been published in London, and performances of the larger ones were also taking place. Following his death in 1936, there seemed to be a belated recognition of his stature, but this faded during the war years. His ablest supporters died in the early fifties, and his music sank into the total oblivion from which it is now emerging.
The songs of Van Dieren form a microcosm of his development and career. Though he was not primarily interested in vocal music, he composed songs at intervals throughout his life, and these form an excellent introduction to his artistic personality. The songs are varied in their technique though some stylistic features do emerge. The vocal line and the accompaniment are, paradoxically independent of each other, and yet totally intertwined. The accompaniment seldom duplicates the vocal line. The real joy of the works comes from the tension and relaxation of the interweaving melodies. Particularly in the later songs, the harmonic language is rarely more advanced than chords of the seventh, yet, thanks to its polyphonic basis, the harmonic progressions have a flavor all their own. In his song technique, there is little contact with the English tradition of illustrative accompaniments. In “Dream Pedlary” for example though “the crier rang the bell”, no tintinnabulations shimmer in the piano part. Rather, the accompaniment, together with the vocal line, forms a beautiful new realization of the essence of Beddoes’ poem.
In his choice of subject matter, an unusual recurring theme is the longing for sleep and oblivion. This may be linked to his need for morphine as a painkiller for the acute kidney complaint which afflicted him from 1912 till his death. The effect of this illness on his career can hardly be exaggerated. Time and again his work was interrupted for months at a stretch, as he became deadly ill. It was on one of these occasions that Epstein saw depicted in Van Dieren’s face, such noble suffering, that he was inspired to model his “Risen Christ”.
In selection of his texts, his position as an Anglo-Dutch composer is seen quite clearly. He followed the Dutch tradition in his devotion to the poetry of Heine, and also in his neglect of Dutch verse. As a Francophile, his setting of well-known poems by Hugo, Ronsard and Verlaine are among his best songs. Though his setting of Verlaine’s “Spleen” is very characteristic of his work, the harmonic inflexions are French, with surely the shade of the Schola Cantorum in the background. Interestingly, in 1913, he contemplated undertaking composition lessons from Vincent d’Indy, but on Busoni’s advice he did not pursue the idea.
The English texts of his songs reflect the interest that Van Dieren shared with his contemporaries in the verse of the Elizabethan and Jacobean poets. Thomas Nashe’s “Spring”, for example, was set by many English composers, though the quirkiness and humour of Van Dieren’s unusually illustrative bird calls is surely unique. The choice of some of the other English texts is much more unusual. Few settings are known of the poetry of Walter Savage Landor, yet Van Dieren found in this verse of romantic sentiments classically expressed, the perfect basis for eight songs, including the hauntingly beautiful “Last Days”. Similarly he understood, from personal experience, the nightmarish opiate world of Thomas de Quincey’s essay “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow”. His setting of an extract from this highly imaginative piece forms “Rhapsodia”, one of his most powerful middle period songs.
Van Dieren was an enthusiast for the work of James Joyce, and was captivated by the puns and wordplays of “Ulysses”. (He signed himself “Bevan Dean” on occasion!). The inclusion of his setting of “A Prayer” in “The Joyce Book”, a musical tribute to the Irish poet, was thus highly appropriate.
The songs of Van Dieren stand alone, relating to the Dutch and the English traditions, yet not quite part of either. His songs do not have the universal appeal of Schubert’s or Mozart’s, but as the music of the twentieth century recedes into perspective, his highly individual contribution to the European lyric tradition will be recognized increasingly.

Alastair Chisholm, Largs, Scotland, June 1983

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Song lyrics:

1. Last Days (Walter Savage Landor)
Leaf after leaf drops off, flower after flower,
Some in the chill, some in the warmer hour:
Alike they flourish and alike they fall,
And earth, who nourished them receives them all.
Should we, her wiser sons, be less content
To sink into her lap when life is spent?

2. Dream Pedlary (Thomas Lovell Beddoes)
If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh.
That shakes from Life’s fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rung the bell,
What would you buy?

A cottage lone and still
With bowers nigh,
Shadowy my woes to still,
Until I die.
Such pearl from Life’s fresh crown
Fain would I shake me down.
Were dreams to have at will,
This would best heal my ill,
This would I buy.

3. Spring Song of the Birds (King James I of Scotland)
Worshippe ye that loveris bene this May,
For of your blisse the Kalendis are begonne,
And sing with us, Away, Winter, away!
Cum, Somer, cum, the suete sesoùn and sonne!
Awake for schame! that have your hevynnis wonne,
And amorously lift up your hedis all,
Thank Lufe that list you to his merci call!.

4. Take, O, Take Those Lips Away (William Shakespeare)
Take, o, take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn,
And those eyes: the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the Morn;
But my kisses bring again, bring again;
Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.

5. Rhapsodia (Thomas de Quincey) *)
These are the Sorrows; and they are three in number, as the Graces are three, who
dress man’s life with beauty; the Parcae are three, who weave the dark arras of man’s
life in their mysterious loom, always with colours sad in part, sometimes angry with
tragic crimson and black; the Furies are three, who visit with retributions called from
the other side of the grave offences that walk upon this; and once even the Muses
were but three, who fit the harp, the trumpet, or the lute, to the great burdens of man’s
impassioned creations. These are the Sorrows; all three of whom I know.

*) The full title of this song is: "First Part of Rhapsodia from 'Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow.'"

6. Weep You No More, Sad Fountains (Anonymous, 16th Century)
Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven’s sun doth gently waste.
But my sun’s heavenly eyes
View not your weeping,
That now lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies
Sleeping.

Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that peace begets.
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at even he sets?
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,
Melt not in weeping
While she lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies
Sleeping.

7. A Prayer (James Joyce) *)
Again!
“Come, give, yield all your strength to me!”
From far a low word breathes on the breaking brain
Its cruel calm, submission's misery,
Gentling her awe as to a soul predestined.
Cease, silent love! My doom!

Blind me with your dark nearness, O have mercy, beloved enemy of my will!
I dare not withstand the cold touch that I dread.
Draw from me still
My slow life! Bend deeper on me, threatening head,
Proud by my downfall, remembering, pitying
Him who is, him who was!

Again!
Together, folded by the night, they lay on earth. I hear
From far her low word breathe on my breaking brain.
"Come!" I yield. Bend deeper upon me! I am here.
Subduer, do not leave me! Only joy, only anguish,
Take me, save me, soothe me, O spare me!

*) The text in quotation marks was originally written in italics in Joyce's poem.

8. Frail the White Rose (A Flower Given To My Daughter) (James Joyce)
Frail the white rose and frail are
Her hands that gave
Whose soul is sere and paler
Than time's wan wave.

Rosefrail and fair -- yet frailest
A wonder wild
In gentle eyes thou veilest,
My blueveined child.

9. Spring (Thomas Nashe)
Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The Palm and May make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the Shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet spring!

10. Mon bras pressait ta taille frêle (Victor Hugo)
Mon bras pressait ta taille frêle / My arm held your waist, slender
Et souple comme le roseau; / And pliant like a reed;
Ton sein palpitait comme l'aile / Your bosom was quivering like the wing
D'un jeune oiseau! / Of a young bird!

Longtemps muets, nous contemplâmes / A long time silent, we watched
Le ciel où s'éteignait le jour. / The sky where the day was retreating.
Que se passait-il dans nos âmes? / What went on in our souls?
Amour! amour! / Love! Love!

Comme un ange qui se dévoile, / Like an angel removing her veil,
Tu me regardais, dans ma nuit, / You looked at me, in my darkness,
Avec ton beau regard d'étoile, / With your beautiful starry eyes,
Qui m'éblouit. / That bedazzled me.

11. Spleen (Paul Verlaine)
Les roses étaient toutes rouges, / The roses were all red,
Et les lierres étaient tout noirs. / And the ivy was all black.

Chère, pour peu que tu te bouges, / Dearest, your slightest move,
Renaissent tous mes désespoirs. / Rekindles all my fears.

Le ciel était trop bleu, trop tendre, / The sky was too blue, too soft,
La mer trop verte et l’air trop doux. / The sea too green and the air too sweet.

Je crains toujours, – ce qu’est d’attendre! – / I always fear, – it comes with waiting! –
Quelque fuite atroce de vous. / Some wild escape from you.

Du houx à la feuille vernie / I’m tired of the holly with its varnished leaf,
Et du luisant buis je suis las, / And of the glossy box tree,

Et de la campagne infinie / And of the endless countryside,
Et de tout, fors de vous, hélas! / And of everything, but you, alas!

12. À Cassandre (Pierre de Ronsard)
Mignonne, allons voir si la rose / Honey, let’s go and see if the rose
Qui ce matin avait déclose / That opened this morning
Sa robe de pourpre au soleil, / Her crimson robe in the sun,
A point perdu cette vêprée, / Did not lose this evening
Les plis de sa robe pourprée, / The folds of her crimson robe,
Et son teint au vôtre pareil./ And her complexion that equals yours.

Las! voyez comme en peu d’espace, / Alas, look how soon,
Mignonne, elle a dessus la place, / Honey, she has instead,
Las, las! ses beautés laissé choir; / Alas, alas, lost her beauty!
Ô vraiment marâtre Nature, / Oh, truly unfeeling nature,
Puis qu’une telle fleur ne dure / That such a flower only lasts
Que du matin jusques au soir! / From dawn to dusk!

Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne, / So, if you hear me, honey,
Tandis que votre âge fleuronne / Whilst your age is blooming
En sa plus verte nouveauté, / In its freshest novelty,
Cueillez, cueillez vôtre jeunesse: / Reap your youthfulness:
Comme à cette fleur, la vieillesse / Like this flower, old age
Fera ternir votre beauté. / Will wither your beauty.

13. Der Asra (Heinrich Heine)
Täglich ging die wunderschöne / Daily the lovely Sultan’s daughter
Sultanstochter auf und nieder / Went back and forth
Um die Abendzeit am Springbrunn, / At evening time by the fountain
Wo die weißen Wasser plätschern. / With white sparkling water.

Täglich stand der junge Sklave / Daily the young slave stood
Um die Abendzeit am Springbrunn, / At evening time by the fountain
Wo die weißen Wasser plätschern; / With white sparkling water.
Täglich ward er bleich und bleicher. / Daily he grew pale and paler.

Eines Abends trat die Fürstin / One evening the princess
Auf ihn zu mit raschen Worten: / Approached him talking swiftly:
„Deinen Namen will ich wissen, / “I want to know your name,
Deine Heimat, deine Sippschaft.“ / Your country, your kin.”

Und der Sklave sprach: „Ich heiße / And the slave said: “my name is
Mohamet, ich bin aus Yemen, / Mahomet, I am from Yemen,
Und mein Stamm sind jene Asra, / And I belong to that tribe of the Asra
Welche sterben wenn sie lieben.“ / Who die when they are in love.”

14. Mir träumte von einem Königskind (Heinrich Heine)
Mir träumte von einem Königskind / I dreamt of a royal child
Mit nassen, blassen Wangen; / With wet, wan cheeks,
Wir saβen unter der grünen Lind’, / We sat under the green lime tree,
Und hielten uns liebumfangen. / And held each other lovingly.

„Ich will nicht deines Vaters Thron, / ”I don’t want your father’s throne,
Ich will nicht sein Zepter von Golde, / I don’t want his golden scepter,
Ich will nicht seine demantene Kron’, / I don’t want his diamond crown,
Ich will dich selber, du Holde!“ / I only want you, dear.”

Das kann nicht sein, sprach sie zu mir, / That’s not possible, she told me,
Ich liege ja im Grabe, / For I’m in the grave,
Und nur des Nachts komm’ ich zu dir, / And only at night will I visit you,
Weil ich so lieb dich habe. / Because I love you so much.

15. Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen (Heinrich Heine) *)
Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen / I was walking under the trees
Mit meinem Gram allein; / Alone with my distress,
Da kam das alte Träumen, / When the old dream came up,
Und schlich mir ins Herz hinein. / And crept into my heart.

Wer hat euch dies Wörtlein gelehret, / Who taught you this little word,
Ihr Vöglein in luftiger Höh’? / You little birds high in the sky?
Schweigt still! wenn mein Herz es höret, / Be quiet! If my heart hears it,
Dann tut es noch einmal so weh. / It will hurt even more.

„Es kam ein Jungfräulein gegangen, / “A young lady was passing by,
Die sang es immerfort, / She sang it all the time,
Da haben wir Vöglein gefangen / That’s how we birds caught
Das hübsche, goldne Wort.“ / The lovely, golden word.”

Das sollt ihr mir nicht erzählen, / You should not tell me this,
Ihr Vöglein wunderschlau; / You cunning little birds,
Ihr wollt meinen Kummer mir stehlen, / You want to steal my sorrow,
Ich aber niemanden trau’. / But I don’t trust anyone.

*) The title and the first line of this song are printed on the sheet music as "Ich wanderte unter den Bäumen," but the original text of Heine's poem is "Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen." Assuming that this is an unintended spelling error, I have retained Heine's text. S.v.L.


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