Blondel to Mary
(Poet's title: Blondel zu Marien)
Set by Schubert:
In düstrer Nacht,
Wenn Gram mein fühlend Herz umziehet,
Des Glückes Sonne mir entweicht,
Und ihre Pracht;
Da leuchtet fern
In feurig wonniglichem Glanze,
Wie in der Liebe Strahlenkranze,
Ein holder Stern.
Und ewig rein
Lebt unter Wonne, unter Schmerzen,
Im treuen, liebevollen Herzen
So hold und mild
Wird unter tröstenden Gestalten
Auch in der Ferne mich umwalten
In the gloomy night-time,
When grief casts its shadows over my sensitive heart
And the sun of happiness escapes from me,
Along with its splendour;
Then there is light in the distance,
In a fiery, blissful glow
As in a radiant garland of love –
A beauteous star.
And eternally pure,
Living amongst bliss and amongst pain
In a faithful loving heart
Is its reflection;
So beauteous and gentle
In comforting forms
And surging around me even when far away –
Your magical image.
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.
The short story in which this poem appeared (on Sunday, 4th July 1818 in the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode [Vienna Journal of art, literature, theatre and fashion]) was called Die Freunde (The Friends). At the point in the story when this poem is sung by Blondel, it appears that the friends of the title must be Blondel himself (a young minstrel) and a young man called Richard (though it later emerges that the real friends were their fathers). It is Richard who encourages Blondel to sing this song to Marie, a woman they have recently met in a Swiss valley who has devoted her life to looking after her blind refugee father (also called Richard).
The song has the unsurprising effect of making Marie fall in love with the singer. He had clearly felt an attraction himself, inspiring him to see the image of Marie as a magical reflection of the shining star in the distance offering him hope in the darkness. It therefore comes as something of a surprise later in the story, when Marie tells her father, old Richard, about the recent visitors (the old man had been asleep indoors at the time of their visit), and her father works out from some of the details she offers that Blondel must be his own long-lost son and therefore Marie’s brother.
Old Richard tells the rather complicated back story about how he had fought for the British in north America in the American War of Independence and was taken prisoner. His friend Arthur had gone in search of him, and, following the example of the troubador Blondel in search of Richard the Lionheart at the time of the Third Crusade, had sung a distinctive song outside a number of locations in order to find the prisoner. On his release old Richard had given his friend Arthur the nickname Blondel, and they had agreed that if they ever had sons, Arthur’s would be called Richard and Richard’s would be called Blondel. Richard’s first child was Marie, but his wife (Betty) died in childbirth when their son was born. Old Richard then left the baby to be brought up in Arthur’s family alongside his friend’s son (young Richard).
The later stages of the story see old Richard and Marie becoming refugees once again as the French invade Switzerland. After various twists and turns they meet up with Arthur, young Richard and Blondel, and they go to Ulm, where they get on a boat to travel down the Danube, allowing them to sail past Dürnstein, the reputed site of the original Blondel singing to King Richard I of England. Marie has to channel her feelings of love into emotions appropriate for a sister, but the main message of the story is the power of the original friendship of Richard and Arthur (aka Blondel), the friends of the novella’s title.
Original Spelling Blondel zu Marien In düst'rer Nacht, Wenn Gram mein fühlend Herz umziehet, Des Glückes Sonne mir entweicht, Und ihre Pracht; Da leuchtet fern In feurig wonniglichem Glanze, Wie in der Liebe Strahlenkranze Ein holder Stern. Und ewig rein Lebt unter Wonne, unter Schmerzen, Im treuen liebevollen Herzen Sein Wiederschein; So hold und mild Wird unter tröstenden Gestalten Auch in der Ferne mich umwalten Dein Zauberbild.
Confirmed by Peter Rastl with Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode. Drittes Quartal des dritten Jahrgangs. 1818. Auf Kosten des Herausgebers. Gedruckt bey Anton Strauß. No. 80. Sonnabend, den 4. Julius 1818, pages 645-646.
Note: The poem appears in Josephine von Münk’s Novella Die Freunde, published in five installments in Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst quoted above, in the editions no.79-83. It is Blondel’s song addressed to Marie.
To see an early edition of the text, go to page 645 [25 von 370] here: http://digital.onb.ac.at/OnbViewer/viewer.faces?doc=ABO_%2BZ136925507