1816: Schubert: The Wanderer

WEDNESDAY, August 19, 2020 – 2:19 AM

The Wanderer…

What a sad song this is. Right in the middle of Covid, not being able to go anywhere or be with other people, more than ever before perhaps we are dreaming of a better world.

In this song it’s not about going back to a better world. It’s about dreaming about what the world could be if it were a better place.

I know that for most people, at least Americans, the idea of listening to music sung in a different language is not comfortable. But you don’t have to understand the German. You can sort of pick up the longing mood from the sound of the music.

An excellent translation…

Most translations are pretty awful, but this one above is really good. However, I like translations to be as literal as possible to get across the meaning of the original words, so..

I would translate it this way:

Ich komme vom Gebirge her,
I come here from the mountains,

Es dampft das Tal, es braust das Meer.
The valley steams, the sea rages.

Ich wandle still, bin wenig froh,
I wander silently, I have little joy,

Und immer fragt der Seufzer: wo?
And always the deep sigh asks: Where?

Die Sonne dünkt mich hier so kalt,
The sun seems to me so cold,

Die Blüte welk, das Leben alt,
The blossom faded, life old,

Und was sie reden, leerer Schall,
And what they say, empty hollow-sound,

Ich bin ein Fremdling überall.
I am a stranger everywhere.

Wo bist du, mein geliebtes Land?
Where are you, my beloved land?

Gesucht, geahnt und nie gekannt!
Sought, suspected and never known!

Das Land, das Land, so hoffnungsgrün,
The land, the land, so green with hope,

Das Land, wo meine Rosen blühn,
The land, where my roses bloom,

Wo meine Freunde wandeln gehn,
Where my friends wander,

Wo meine Toten auferstehn,
Where my dead rise again,

Das Land, das meine Sprache spricht,
The land, that speaks my language,

O Land, wo bist du?
O land, where are you?

Ich wandle still, bin wenig froh,
I wander silently, I have little joy,

Und immer fragt der Seufzer: wo?
And always the deep sigh asks: where?

Im Geisterhauch tönt’s mir zurück:
In the whisper of a ghost I hear in return:

„Dort, wo du nicht bist, dort ist das Glück!“
“There, where you are not, there is happiness!”


7 thoughts on “1816: Schubert: The Wanderer

  1. This was composed in the 1800’s but is very appropriate for what we are experiencing now. So much sadness and longing is being conveyed in this music. Perhaps somewhere there is hope and happiness to be found.

  2. Should have added …. the book is German, in German. There was something about Germans and wandering. Either they are happily wandering, or dreaming of wandering, or regret wandering because now they’re lost and homesick due to wandering. At least in those days.

    1. There is a problem: Schubert’s text is not the same as the poem. There are changes and deletions. In the source there are “wandering dreams”, not wandering friends, and that’s where the problem occurs. That’s not the only problem created by changes, but it’s the worst.

  3. I have a little pocket size book, a collection of songs, from my grandmother, printed just after the 1800’s in the romantic period. There are oodles of songs where people are wandering, homesick; it was the fashion. What Schubert did with the poem is something else again. And what people are living is real, it is a real homesickness. I have not seen my grandchild and her parents since Christmas. We, these days, don’t romanticize missing things ….. we’re missing them.

  4. I find myself thinking the same. Where is she, of the emerald-green seas, the turquoise sky, the sing-song of co-qui! co-qui!

    Not so much where…. but when..

    1. Louie, I’ve been listening more of Schubert’s miracles, and this guy just was not of this world. We just have to keep paying attention to such people, because maybe the partially pull us into that better world for awhile.

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