To Rosa I
(Poet's title: An Rosa I)
Set by Schubert:
[October 19, 1815]
Part of Kosegarten (putative cycle)
Warum bist du nicht hier, meine Geliebteste,
Dass mich gürte dein Arm, dass mich dein Händedruck
Labe, dass du mich pressest
An dein schlagendes Schwesterherz.
Rosa, bist du mir hold? Rosa, so hold, wie ich,
War dir keiner, und wird keiner dir wieder sein
Von den Söhnen der Erde,
Von den Söhnen Elysiums.
Wärmer, Rosa, fürwahr, wärmer und zärtlicher
Könnte nimmer für dich schlagen mein fühlend Herz,
Hätt´ Ein Schoß uns geboren,
Hätt´ uns einerley Brust gesäugt.
Matte labet der Quell, Müde der Abendstern,
Irre Wandrer der Mond, Kranke das Morgenrot;
Mich erlabet, Geliebte,
Dein Umfangen am kräftigsten.
Warum bist du nicht hier, meine Vertrauteste,
Dass dich gürte mein Arm, dass ich dir süßen Gruß
Lispl’ und feurig dich drücke
An mein schlagendes Bruderherz.
Why are you not here, my most beloved one,
So that your arms could encircle me, so that a touch of your hand could
Refresh me, so that you could press me
To your beating sisterly heart?
Rosa, are you fond of me? Rosa, noone has been as fond of you as I,
Nobody, and noone will be as fond of you again,
None of the sons of the Earth,
None of the sons of Elysium.
In truth, Rosa, it is not possible to be warmer or more affectionate,
My feeling heart could not beat any more warmly for you,
Even if a single womb had given birth to us,
Even if we had suckled at the same breast.
The spring refreshes the faint, the evening star refreshes the weary,
The moon – lost travellers, dawn – the sick;
What refreshes me, beloved,
Most strongly of all is your embrace.
Why are you not here, my most devoted one,
So that your arms could encircle me, so that with a sweet greeting to you
I could whisper and press you, burning,
To my beating brotherly heart?
All translations into English that appear on this website, unless otherwise stated, are by Malcolm Wren. You are free to use them on condition that you acknowledge Malcolm Wren as the translator and schubertsong.uk as the source. Unless otherwise stated, the comments and essays that appear after the texts and translations are by Malcolm Wren and are © Copyright.
What is it about Rosa that the poet misses? It is something to do with support. He found her embrace and the touch of her hand refreshing. She had the same effect on him as that of a spring of fresh water on someone who is about to faint. Just as weary travellers are relieved to catch sight of the evening star or the moon, or as the sick find temporary relief as the sun rises, so the poet found refreshment in Rosa’s arms. This hardly gives the impression of a raging passion.
Indeed he describes his feelings for her as ‘warm’ rather than hot. He feels that she has a ‘sisterly’ heart, so much so that he pursues the thought and imagines how they could not have been closer even if they had been twins, sharing the same womb and suckling at the same breasts. Perhaps he protests too much. Perhaps she had rejected his advances (or was married or promised to someone else) and could only offer ‘sisterly’ support. He tells himself that is enough.
His secret slips out towards the end, though. In the final stanza, when he imagines what it would be like for her to put her arms around him, he no longer speaks of this just refreshing or supporting him; now he takes the initiative at last. He speaks to her, he makes a declaration, and he presses her to his beating ‘brotherly’ heart. And in the midst of this he slips it in (or perhaps it just slips out), the adverb ‘feurig’ (burning, lit. ‘fierily’ or ‘on fire’): I could press you fierily to my beating brotherly heart.
Note on the poetic metre: Asclepiadean (taken from The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics ed. A. Preminger & T. V. F. Brogan 1993) ASCLEPIAD. Asclepiadean. An Aeolic line consisting of a glyconic ( X X ◡ ◡ — ◡ — ) internally compounded with a choriamb ( — ◡ ◡ — ), thus: X X — ◡ ◡ — — ◡ ◡ — ◡ — . Though named by later grammarians after the Greek epigrammatist Asclepiades of Samos (ca. 300 B.C.), it is already found in Alcaeus (7th c B.C.), and in fact was used long before for both lyric (monodic and choral) and tragedy. The Asclepiad was used extensively both as a stichic verse and in combination with other Aeolic forms to form strophes. Horace in his Odes used the Asclepiad frequently . . .
Original Spelling An Rosa I Warum bist du nicht hier, meine Geliebteste, Daß mich gürte dein Arm, daß mich dein Händedruck Labe, daß du mich pressest An dein schlagendes Schwesterherz. Rosa, bist du mir hold? Rosa, so hold, wie ich, War dir keiner, und wird keiner dir wieder seyn Von den Söhnen der Erde, Von den Söhnen Elysiums. Wärmer, Rosa, fürwahr, wärmer und zärtlicher Könnte nimmer für dich schlagen mein fühlend Herz, Hätt´ Ein Schooß uns geboren, Hätt´ uns einerley Brust gesäugt. Matte labet der Quell, Müde der Abendstern, Irre Wandrer der Mond, Kranke das Morgenroth; Mich erlabet, Geliebte, Dein Umfangen am kräftigsten. Warum bist du nicht hier, meine Vertrauteste, Daß dich gürte mein Arm, daß ich dir süßen Gruß Lispl' und feurig dich drücke An mein schlagendes Bruderherz.
Confirmed by Peter Rastl with Schubert’s source, L.T.Kosegarten’s Poesieen, Neueste Auflage, Zweyter Band, Berlin 1803, pages 84-85; and with Gedichte von Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten. Zweiter Band. Leipzig, bei Ernst Martin Gräff. 1788, pages 223-224.
Note: In his early editions Kosegarten included only two (independent) poems titled An Rosa, without a subtitle, and they did not yet constitute a part of his later cycle of the four poems An Rosa.
To see an early edition of the text, go to page 84 [88 von 298] here: http://digital.onb.ac.at/OnbViewer/viewer.faces?doc=ABO_%2BZ184217005