Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams! (translation of “Gute Nacht” by Wilhelm Müller from Schubert’s “Winterreise” song cycle)

We came here all as strangers—
Thus runs that old cliché.
In summer sun, hydrangeas—
A gladsome, bright bouquet!
The girl showed admiration;
Her mother thought we’d wed;
Returned infatuation;
Her father wished me dead!
Now nothing is so cheery,
My path enswathed in snow
And everything so dreary,
My path ensconced in snow.

My spirit must now wander
Incarnation’s horoscope,
This path that guides my pondering
Through darkness as I grope.
My only true companions,
Moon-shadows dart and flit
Through eerie glades and canyons
As cloud and shade permit.
And to these panoramas
My wild heart must commit.
Intense, internal dramas—
My wild heart must commit.

Why would I wish to linger,
That they may cast me out?
Let barking dogs beleaguer
An unassailed redoubt;
For love was born to wander—
It’s how things have to be
All riches made to squander.
It’s how things have to be!
For love was born to wander
My dear, I’ll bid good night!
All riches made to squander.
My dear, I’ll say good night!

Sweet dreams! I shall not pester you
Or roil your calm repose.
Let goose-down quilts sequester you—
I shall no more impose!
But by your gate in passing
I’ll scrawl my fond farewell
Inscribed in snow, trespassing,
Where once I thought to dwell.
Yes, by her gate in passing
I’ll write my fond farewell
Inscribed in snow, trespassing,
Where once I thought to dwell.
Where once I thought to dwell.

English verse translation © Thomas Beavitt 2017

No. 1 Sweet Dreams by Chisha (Tempura on Bristol, from “Winter Journeyman”, a series of illustrations of English verse translations of Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle.)

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