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Songs

Der Geistertanz

by Franz Schubert

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Text & Translation

Der Geistertanz
German source: Matthison, Friedrich von

Die bretterne Kammer
Der Toten erbebt,
Wenn zwölfmal den Hammer
Die Mitternacht hebt.

Rasch tanzen um Gräber
Und morsches Gebein
Wir luftigen Schweber
Den sausenden Reih’n.

Was winseln die Hunde
Beim schlafenden Herrn?
Sie wittern die Runde
Der Geister von fern.

Die Raben entflattern
Der wüsten Abtei,
Und flieh’n an den Gattern
Des Kirchhofs vorbei.

Wir gaukeln und scherzen
Hinab und empor
Gleich irrenden Kerzen
Im dunstigen Moor.

O Herz, dessen Zauber
Zur Marter uns ward,
Du ruhst nun in tauber
Verdumpfung erstarrt;

Tief bargst du im düstern
Gemach unser Weh;
Wir Glücklichen flüstern
Dir fröhlich: Ade!

Ghost Dance
English translation © Richard Wigmore

The boarded chamber
of the dead trembles
when midnight twelve times
raises the hammer.

Quickly we airy spirits
strike up a whirling dance
around graves
and rotting bones.

Why do the dogs whine
as their masters sleep?
They scent from afar
the spirits’ dance.

Ravens flutter up
from the ruined abbey,
and fly past
the graveyard gates.

Jesting, we flit
up and down,
like will-o’-the-wisps
over the misty moor.

O heart, whose spell
was our torment,
you rest now,
frozen in a numb stupor.

You have buried our grief
deep in the gloomy chamber;
happy we, who whisper you
a cheerful farewell!

Der Geistertanz
German source: Matthison, Friedrich von

Ghost Dance
English source: Richard Wigmore

Die bretterne Kammer
The boarded chamber
Der Toten erbebt,
of the dead trembles
Wenn zwölfmal den Hammer
when midnight twelve times
Die Mitternacht hebt.
raises the hammer.

Rasch tanzen um Gräber
Quickly we airy spirits
Und morsches Gebein
strike up a whirling dance
Wir luftigen Schweber
around graves
Den sausenden Reih’n.
and rotting bones.

Was winseln die Hunde
Why do the dogs whine
Beim schlafenden Herrn?
as their masters sleep?
Sie wittern die Runde
They scent from afar
Der Geister von fern.
the spirits’ dance.

Die Raben entflattern
Ravens flutter up
Der wüsten Abtei,
from the ruined abbey,
Und flieh’n an den Gattern
and fly past
Des Kirchhofs vorbei.
the graveyard gates.

Wir gaukeln und scherzen
Jesting, we flit
Hinab und empor
up and down,
Gleich irrenden Kerzen
like will-o’-the-wisps
Im dunstigen Moor.
over the misty moor.

O Herz, dessen Zauber
O heart, whose spell
Zur Marter uns ward,
was our torment,
Du ruhst nun in tauber
you rest now,
Verdumpfung erstarrt;
frozen in a numb stupor.

Tief bargst du im düstern
You have buried our grief
Gemach unser Weh;
deep in the gloomy chamber;
Wir Glücklichen flüstern
happy we, who whisper you
Dir fröhlich: Ade!
a cheerful farewell!

Composer

Franz Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert was an late Classical and early Romantic composer. He produced a vast oeuvre during his short life, composing more the 600 vocal works (largely Lieder), and well as several symphonies, operas, and a large body of piano music. He…

Poet

Matthison, Friedrich von

Friedrich von Matthisson was a German poet, an early member of the German Romantic movement. His best known poem is probably Adelaide, which was set to music by Beethoven. He was born at Hohendodeleben near Magdeburg, the son of the village pastor,…

Performances

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