(Poet's title: Das Heimweh)
Set by Schubert:
Ach, der Gebirgssohn hängt mit kindlicher Lieb an der Heimat!
Wie, den Alpen geraubt, hinwelket die Blume, so welkt er,
Ihr entrissen, dahin. Stets sieht er die trauliche Hütte,
Die ihn gebar, im hellen Grün umduftender Matten,
Sieht das dunkele Föhrengehölz, die ragende Felswand
Über ihm, und noch Berg auf Berg, in erschütternder Hoheit
Aufgetürmt, und glühend im Rosenschimmer des Abends.
Immer schwebt es ihm vor! Verdunkelt ist alles um ihn her.
Ängstlich horcht er; ihm deucht: er höre das Muhen der Kühe
Vom nahen Gehölz, und hoch von den Alpen herunter
Glöcklein klingen; ihm deucht: er höre das Rufen der Hirten
Oder ein Lied der Sennerinn, die mit umschlagender Stimme
Freudig zum Wiederhall aufjauchzt Melodien des Alplands;
Immer tönt es ihm nach. Ihn fesselt der lachenden Ebnen
Anmut nicht, er fliehet der Städt’ einengende Mauern,
Einsam, und schaut aufweinend vom Hügel die heimischen Berge;
Ach, es zieht ihn dahin mit unwiderstehlicher Sehnsucht.
Oh, the son of the mountains hangs on to his homeland with a childlike love;
Just as a flower withers away when it is plucked from the Alps, he too withers
And wilts if taken away from them! He can always see the cosy hut
Where he was born, standing in bright green fragrant Alpine meadows;
He can see the dark pine woods, the towering cliffs of rock
Over him, and further in the dizzying heights mountain after mountain
Towering up, and glowing in the pink glow of the evening.
It is always floating in front of him, everything around him becomes dark.
He listens anxiously. It seems to him that he can hear the lowing of the cows
In the nearby woods, and from high up in the Alps he can hear
The ringing of little bells. It seems to him that he can hear the call of the shepherds,
Or the song of the milkmaid, using her yodelling voice
To throw out the melodies of the Alpine lands and enjoy the echo.
He can always hear this resounding. The laughing flatlands cannot grip him
With their charms. He flees from the confining walls of the town
Alone, and stands weeping on a hill crying for his native mountains;
Oh! he is drawn there with an irresistible longing!
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.
When he wrote the long narrative poem Tunisias, from which these lines are taken, Johann Ladislaus Pyrker was still living in the flat, Hungarian part of the Habsburg Empire. However, his aristocratic family had connections with the Tyrol and he regularly visited the Gastein valley south of Salzburg. By the time he met Schubert and the singer Vogl here in the summer of 1825 he had been appointed Primate of Venice and he had made minor revisions to the published text of Tunisias (the version that Schubert set corresponds to the wording of an 1826 edition which had not yet been published, so Pyrker must have handed Schubert a manuscript copy to work from). It therefore appears that Pyrker was introducing himself to Schubert and Vogl as a ‘son of the mountains’ where they were currently staying, albeit one who spent a great deal of time in the flatlands, uprooted from his true Alpine home.
In the original context of Tunisias the lines are the song of Tyrolean soldiers who have been taken to fight against the Ottoman Empire as part of the 1535 Tunis campaign, led by Emperor Charles V. When they see the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage at the top of high cliffs they are reminded of the walls of rock that surround their home valleys in the Alps and they are compelled to sing about their homesickness. Like the figure in their song, they refuse to be fettered by the constraints of the towns on the plains. When they see the slightest hill they weep in longing for their mountain home.
The first metaphor used to explain homesickness here is the idea of plants being uprooted. Whether plucked or transplanted, Alpine flowers quickly fade. They flourish only in their ‘own place’. Everyday language still uses this image. “My roots are here”, people say, as if they are vegetables or shrubs rather than animals with the ability to roam freely.
The second cluster of imagery is precisely that: a set of images that seem to appear to the poet wherever he is and whatever else he is thinking about. These pictures of home appear in the order in which a child would have experienced them: first the hut where he was born, then the green meadows where he learned to walk, followed by the pine woods where he first explored the more dangerous wider world, all bounded in by the towering mountains themselves. These represent both a drive to transcend the earthly realm, and at the same time a solid embrace which keeps the native grounded in the valley.
After this comes the third, perhaps most vivid evocation of the Alpine homeland: its soundworld. Cows moo. Cow bells can be heard from higher pastures. Shepherds call to their sheepdogs and to some of the sheep. The dairymaids’ song might be a similar call to the cows or simply a playful enjoyment of the echo. All of these sounds continue to reverberate in the mind of the Alpine native who finds himself elsewhere. No ‘laughter on the plains’ can compete with it.
Original Spelling Das Heimweh Ach! der Gebirgssohn hängt mit kindlicher Lieb' an der Heimath; Wie den Alpen geraubt hinwelket die Blume, so welkt er Ihr entrissen dahin! - Stets sieht er die trauliche Hütte, Die ihn gebar, im hellen Grün umduftender Matten; Sieht das dunkele Föhrengehölz, die ragende Felswand Über ihm, und noch Berg' auf Berg' in erschütternder Hoheit Aufgethürmt, und glühend im Rosenschimmer des Abends. Immer schwebt es ihm vor, verdunkelt ist alles um ihn her. Ängstlich horcht er; ihm deucht: er höre das Muhen der Kühe Vom nahen Gehölz, und hoch von den Alpen herunter Glöcklein klingen; ihm deucht: er höre das Rufen der Hirten, Oder ein Lied der Sennerinn, die mit umschlagender Stimme, Freudig zum Wiederhall aufjauchzt Melodien des Alplands. Immer tönt es ihm nach; ihn fesselt der lachenden Ebnen Anmuth nicht; er fliehet der Städt' einengende Mauern Einsam, und schaut aufweinend vom Hügel die heimischen Berge; Ach! es zieht ihn dahin mit unwiderstehlicher Sehnsucht!
Confirmed by Peter Rastl with Tunisias. Ein Heldengedicht in zwölf Gesängen von Johann Ladislav Pyrker. Wien, 1820. Bey Carl Ferdinand Beck. Gedruckt bey Anton Strauß, pages 141-142; and with Tunisias. Ein Heldengedicht in zwölf Gesängen von Johann Ladislav Pyrker. Dritte, durchaus verbesserte, und mit Anmerkungen versehene Ausgabe. Wien, 1826. Bey Carl Ferdinand Beck. Gedruckt bey Anton Strauß, pages 141-142.
Note: These verses are an excerpt of a much longer poem in twelve cantos; they appear in Sechster Gesang, verses 607-623 (first edition, 1820).
To see an early edition of the text, go to page 141 [165 von 382] here: http://digital.onb.ac.at/OnbViewer/viewer.faces?doc=ABO_%2BZ17997900X