UPDATE: A new translation sent to me by Richard Gardner
UPDATE: A contemporary re-imagining of Im Abendrot by Neil Fulwood
I’m collecting translations of the poem ‘Im Abendrot’ by Joseph von Eichendorff, which was the basis of the final work by Richard Strauss of the same title. I’m particularly interested in the second line of the last verse, most often translated as ‘So deep at sunset’ and other possible translations. All suggestions welcome.
We have gone through sorrow and joy
hand in hand;
from wandering we now rest
on the silent land.
Around us, the valleys bow;
the air is growing darker;
two larks soar still
with reverie into the fragrant air.
Come close to me and let them fly about;
soon it will be time to sleep;
let us not lose our way
in this solitude.
O vast, tranquil peace!
so deep at sunset.
How weary we are of wandering –
Is this perhaps death?
Through want and joy we have walked hand in hand;
We are both resting from out travels now, in the quiet countryside
Around us the valleys fold up, already the air grows dark,
Only two larks still soar wistfully into the balmy sky
Come here and let them fly about; soon it is time for sleep
We must not go astray in this solitude
O spacious, tranquil peace, so profound in the gloaming.
How tired we are of travelling – is this perchance death?
Twilight (Trans. Ivan Grosz)
We have gone through joy and sorrow
Walking hand in hand
Let’s rest from all the wanderings
Here, on this silent land
The valleys slip beneath us
The air is turning dark
Up into the balmy sky
Dreaming soar two larks
Come close to me and let them twirl
It’s almost time to sleep
Be careful not to lose our way
The solitude is deep
Oh broad and peaceful silence
Set in the evening’s dark red glow
Of wandering we are tired
May death be waiting for us now?
Im Abendrot (At Sunset)(translated by Richard Gardner)
Through misery and pleasure,
We wandered hand in hand;
And now we take our leisure,
Above the tranquil land.
Ringed by valleys leaning o’er,
The air to darkness bent;
Just two skylarks upwards soar,
Day-dreaming in the scent.
Come and let them whirl away,
It’s time for us to sleep;
Lest we err and go astray
In solitude this deep.
Vast and silent stillness fired
With sunset red the breadth!
How can we feel so tired?
Can this perhaps be death?
In the Evening (by Neil Fulwood)
Imagine: while driving home,
companionship and laughter left behind,
the village a string of lights
in the rearview mirror, you pull over
and turn the engine off,
then step out of the car and stand
on a verge of hardened soil,
the road unlit and signless at your back,
and look across the land
as dark comes on, the fields dull slabs
of earth which rise and level out
and stretch away. By day you’d see
a wealth of smaller things:
farmhouse chimneys capped with drifts
of smoke, the dotted lines
of boundaries marked by walls of stone;
and further still: a hint
of distant hills a county away,
and almost on the edge of sight,
a scythe of light on coastal water.
But you see it (imagine)
for the final time now, in the evening,
the small details that gave it life
stolen by an horizon brought nearer
by twilight, gathered up,
hidden beneath silence and darkness,
a silence that is absolute,
a darkness that takes the evening
and plucks from you
your valediction: the one name
that never left your heart,
a thing remembered even as it passes.
And the original German by Eichendorff…
Wir sind durch Not und Freude
gegangen Hand in Hand;
vom Wandern ruhen wir
nun überm stillen Land.
Rings sich die Täler neigen,
es dunkelt schon die Luft,
zwei Lerchen nur noch steigen
nachträumend in den Duft.
Tritt her und laß sie schwirren,
bald ist es Schlafenszeit,
daß wir uns nicht verirren
in dieser Einsamkeit.
O weiter, stiller Friede!
So tief im Abendrot.
Wie sind wir wandermüde–
Ist dies etwa der Tod?