Im Abendrot

UPDATE: A new translation sent to me by Richard Gardner

UPDATE: A contemporary re-imagining of Im Abendrot by Neil Fulwood

UPDATE: I have added a new translation contributed by Robin Wallace, and the amazing performance by Jessye Norman of Richard Strauss ‘Im Abendrot’.

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.

 

 

Evening
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?

 

At Gloaming
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.

 

 

In evening’s final breath (translated by Robin Wallace)

Through sorrow and life’s happiness
We’ve journeyed hand in hand.
Now we may rest from wandering
Above this silent land.

The valleys lie in shadow,
And darkness fills the sky.
Two larks alone, their dreamy course
Through fragrant evening fly.

Come close and let them slip away;
Soon it is time to sleep.
Oh let us not forget our goal
In solitude so deep.

What broad and silent peacefulness
In evening’s final breath.
How tired we are of wandering.
Might this perhaps be death?

 

And the original German by Eichendorff…

Im Abendrot
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?

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15 thoughts on “Im Abendrot”

  1. “So tief im Abendrot” — I find that with translations it’s a lot more useful to have a rough/messy/literal translation as well as the poetic one to fully understand the meaning. (For awhile I was planning to do translations of fantasy stories as my undergrad thesis, so this is a subject near & dear to my heart.)

    The simplest translation of the line is “so deep in sunset”; however, both “tief” and “Abendrot” have other shades of meaning. “tief” most often means “deep”, but it can mean “low”, and it can mean “profound” — even if the poet intended it to mean “deep” and everyone reads it as “deep”, the secondary meaning of “profound” resides subconsciously in their brains.

    “Abendrot” is a fun German compound, and translates literally as “evening-red”; the definition can be “sunset” or “afterglow”.

    If I realize I’m not doing any useful work today, I’ll come back and do a raw/literal work-through of the rest of the poem for you; my disclaimer is I’ve only had one semester of German, so my grammar may be a little bit off in places.

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  2. “O weiter, stiller Friede” _could_ mean: “O continue/go on/last/further, silent peace”
    At least, the phrase is ambivalent.

    Here is my translation, I like the above meaning better, although it is probably less likely. I am a native German speaker, but not English. I tried to keep it very literal. I am sure that some things don’t work the way I did them, so let me know.

    We have, through hardship and joy
    gone hand in hand;
    From roaming we rest
    now above the silent land.

    On all hands the valleys slope,
    already darkens the air,
    two larks only still ascend
    reminiscently into the haze.

    Come here and let them swirl,
    soon it is time to sleep,
    that we don’t go astray
    in this solitude.

    O further, silent peace!
    So sound in the evening glow.
    How tired we are from roaming–
    Could this perchance be death?

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  3. Just happened upon your collection and thought I’d share my own poetic, only somewhat literal translation. Note that I’ve supplied an appropriate poetic image in English for “so tief im Abendrot” in order to preserve the rhyme. However, I think it also conveys Eichendorff’s subtle linking of the deepness of late evening and the end of life.

    Through sorrow and life’s happiness We’ve journeyed hand in hand. Now we may rest from wandering Above this silent land. The valleys lie in shadow, And darkness fills the sky. Two larks alone, their dreamy course Through fragrant evening fly. Come close and let them slip away; Soon it is time to sleep. Oh let us not forget our goal In solitude so deep. What broad and silent peacefulness In evening’s final breath. How tired we are of wandering. Might this perhaps be death?

     

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  4. Just happened upon your collection and thought I’d share my own
    poetic, only somewhat literal translation. Note that I’ve supplied an
    appropriate poetic image in English for “so tief im Abendrot” in order
    to preserve the rhyme. However, I think it also conveys Eichendorff’s
    subtle linking of the deepness of late evening and the end of life.

    Through sorrow and life’s happiness
    We’ve journeyed hand in hand.
    Now
    we may rest from wandering
    Above this silent land.

    The valleys lie in
    shadow,
    And darkness fills the sky.
    Two larks alone, their dreamy course
    Through fragrant evening fly.

    Come close and let them slip away;
    Soon
    it is time to sleep.
    Oh let us not forget our goal
    In solitude so deep.

    What broad and silent peacefulness
    In evening’s final breath.
    How tired
    we are of wandering.
    Might this perhaps be death?
     

    Like

  5. hello damien, this a very beautifull project of yours and I do agree : the interpretation of the Strauss’s Im Abendrot by jessye norman and kurt mazur is the most touching I ever heard…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Damien, here is my version for my mother’s funeral service:

    Evening

    We walked, hand in hand,
    through joy and suffering
    finding peace in the sun
    settling in a quiet land.

    With the valleys as our carpet
    we breathe the sweet night
    two larks our companions
    dreaming of light.

    We love to see them play and sing
    but soon it will be time to sleep.
    Even though we are alone
    we must keep going on.

    The infinite peace
    in the deep evening!
    We are weary to the bone.
    Is this death finally calling us home?

    Like

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