Cypresses, B11 | Text

translation: David Beveridge

I. You ardent songs, go forth through the night

You ardent songs, go forth
through the night into the misty space;
give greetings to all
who are burdened by silent woe!

Go thither across the dales
where my beloved woman dwells,
and tell her what pains me,
and why you fly to her!

And if she weeps with you,
bring me back those tidings;
otherwise may the wind
blow you about the valleys!

II. In that sweet power of your eyes

In that sweet power of your eyes
how gladly would I die,
if only the laughter of lovely
lips did not beckon me to life.

But I'll choose that sweet death at once
with that love in my breast,
if only those smiling lips of yours
will awaken me to life.

III. So many a heart is as though dead

So many a heart is as though dead,
as in a dark wasteland;
yea, only for grief and for pain
does it have room.

Then delusions of burning love
enter into that heart,
and the heart, yearning in misery,
believes that it loves.

And in this sweet belief
the dead heart once again
transforms itself into a paradise
and sings the old tale!

IV. Oh dear soul, the only one

Oh dear soul, the only one
that still lives in my heart:
my thought hovers about you,
though evil fate separates us.

Oh, were I a singing swan,
I'd fly to you
and in my final sighing would
sing out my heart to you, swooning.

V. Oh, it was a lovely, golden dream

Oh, it was a lovely, golden dream
that we dreamed there together!
What a shame, that gracious dream
was only so short!

Such sweet longing took root
in my whole being,
until upon parting
a tear of woe arrived.

And often I go up the mountain
and look for you,
but all along the far horizon
only my woe do I sow.

VI. I know that in sweet hope

I know that in sweet hope
I may love you after all,
and that you want to nurture
my love all the more fervently.

And still, when I look into your eyes,
into that blissful night,
and learn how love’s heaven
brings down its power from them upon me,

then my eye suddenly
clouds with tears,
for in our happiness, behind us
evil fate is watching!

VII. Oh golden rose, fair

Oh golden rose, fair,
like morning visions of spring,
you conjured up sweet pain
into my whole life and yearning.

All that graciousness of yours
so anchored in my breast
that I placed myself at your mercy,
for you to heal my wounds.

And you in your fervent love
embraced me like a sphinx,
and into my pining heart
thrust a new thorn.

VIII. Oh, that longed-for happiness does not bloom for our love

Oh, that longed-for happiness
does not bloom for our love;
and if it would bloom, in this world
it would not bloom for long.

Why would a tear
steal into fiery kisses?
Why would you embrace me
in your full love with anxiety?

Oh, bitter is that parting
where hope does not beckon:
the heart then feels, trembling,
that soon in misery it will die.

IX. Around the house now I stagger

Around the house now I stagger
where you used to live,
and from the wound of love I bleed,
of that love sweet, deceitful!

And with a sad eye I watch
whether you step toward me:
and toward you my arms I open,
but a tear I feel in my eye!

Oh where are you, dear one, where are you today?
Won’t you come toward me?
Am I not, with delight and joy in my heart,
to behold you ever again?

X. Doubt often torments me

Doubt often torments me,
whether your love is constant;
and again the hope cradles me
that you have loved faithfully.

And anew I hope in your love
and more warmly embrace you;
your sighs entice me to sweet faith
and the heaven of your eyes to bliss.

Then my head I bend, my heart
resounds with mysterious voices:
we shall scarcely be happy,
and time will part us!

XI. My heart often broods in pain

My heart often broods in pain,
'Oh, that this love has so much pain
and so many thorns?

This love passes like a dream,
so beautiful, gracious,
and in but a moment
the grave mound will bury it!

And on the grave a stone placed,
above which a linden keeps watch.
And on the stone the inscription written:
Here a broken heart sleeps!'

XII. Here I look upon this dear letter

Here I look upon this dear letter
placed in a little book,
and I want to read again
those sweet half-echoes of your heart.

With a dear word you say
that you’ll be mine forever,
and that you'll see me again,
that nothing will part us!

And we saw each other again, and
I recognized the changes of the world:
all that remained for me is the crumbling letter
placed in a little book.

XIII. On the mountains quiet

On the mountains quiet and in the valley quiet:
nature dozes with a sweet dream.
And through the air floats a mysterious breeze;
in the forest the tree trunks whisper to each other.

And the forests murmur into the bluish space,
when breathes a breeze upon a leaf,
murmur and murmur on and on;
with the murmuring comes so many a dream!

XIV. Here in the forest by a brook

Here in the forest by a brook
I stand alone, all alone,
and into the brook’s waves
in thoughts I gaze.

Then I see an old stone,
over which the waves rage;
that stone rises and falls
without rest under a wave.

And the current presses on it
until the stone overturns.
When will the wave of life
carry me away from the world?

XV. Pensively through my whole soul

Pensively through my whole soul
the aching mood penetrates,
and even when joy gushes up in my heart,
at once the chill of woes steps in.

And everything that’s dear has fallen,
yea, from my heart's tree;
all I have left is you, nation,
and your hardships as well.

Through your whole long life
stretches suffering;
in eternal, desperate struggle
your fates fluctuate.

I have clung to you;
nothing is dearer to me than you –
after all, we are both a great sacrifice
of eternal subjugation!

XVI. There stands an old crag

There stands an old crag
at the entrance to the valley,
so deserted, desolate,
that the heart aches.

To that old crag
my steps often wander;
I gaze up at it
with moist eyes.

And by that hard crag
I tarry long,
and all the pains
in my heart I numb there.

When I die, in this crag
lay my body;
there will be numbed forever
all that sorrow of mine!

XVII. Over the countryside reigns a light sleep

Over the countryside reigns a light sleep;
clear has stretched out the May night.
A shy breeze steals into the leaves;
from heaven has bent down the realm of peace.

The flowers have dozed; in the brook murmurs
more quietly the chorus of mysterious songs.
Nature, in delight, blissfully meditates;
everywhere the squabble of restless elements has fallen silent.

The stars have come together like lights of hope;
earth is changing into a celestial sphere.
Through my heart, in which once bliss bloomed,
through my heart spreads only the turmoil of pains!

XVIII. You ask why my songs

You ask why my songs
rage with a sound despairing?
Why so mournfully, why so wildly,
like a river over rocks?

Don’t ask me, dear companion,
with that sincere speech of yours;
I dare not tell you
what torments rend my heart.

Neither love’s nor glory’s
garlands long torn down,
nor celestial empires’
beauties tossed about by time;

neither the mouldy ruins
of faded happiness,
nor strange apparitions all about,
nor the world’s wastelands;

nor is it the rage and agitation of passions
in ceaseless storming
that awaken the wild, dark torrent of these
songs of mine;

 but one pain, so powerful
that it ruins my spirit,
consumes my life’s root,
that it cannot flourish and bloom!

 And that pain, which incessantly
etches great distress into my heart,
which provokes these wild songs:
that powerful pain is my homeland.