Dass sie hier gewesen, D 775

The fact that she was here

(Poet's title: Dass sie hier gewesen)

Set by Schubert:

  • D 775

    [probably 1823]

Text by:

Friedrich Rückert

Text written 1820.  First published 1821.

Dass sie hier gewesen

Dass der Ostwind Düfte
Hauchet in die Lüfte,
Dadurch tut er kund,
Dass du hier gewesen.

Dass hier Tränen rinnen,
Dadurch wirst du innen,
Wär’s dir sonst nicht kund,
Dass ich hier gewesen.

Schönheit oder Liebe,
Ob versteckt sie bliebe?
Düfte tun es und
Tränen kund,
Dass sie hier gewesen.

The fact that she was here

The fact that the east wind takes scents and
Breathes them into the breezes
Is something that proclaims
The fact that you have been here.

The fact that tears are flowing here
Is something that will lead you to realise,
If you were not aware of it before,
The fact that I have been here.

Beauty or love,
(Can they remain hidden?)
Scents proclaim it and
Tears proclaim it –
The fact that she was here.

Themes and images in this text:

Breath and breathingEast and WestHidingSmellsTears and cryingWind

We have to take the tears seriously. The type of Persian poetry that Rückert was using as his model here nearly always linked love and loss. Although the poet is concerned to find evidence of the lover’s presence or proximity, the fact is that although she has been here, she is not here now.

The tension of presence and absence is inherent in the participle ‘gewesen’. She has been here. There is evidence in the here and now, but it is evidence of a situation in the past. You ‘have been’ here. You will know that I too ‘have been’ here. However, in the third stanza it becomes apparent (or the speaker comes to realise it more acutely) that she is unlikely to be here again. His tears proclaim it. She has been here, but it is perhaps better to say ‘she was here’. We have no evidence of where she is now or any promise of her presence in the future.

There is a further ambiguity in stanza three, this time relating to the pronoun ‘sie’. In the second line (‘Ob versteckt sie bliebe?’) this clearly means ‘they’ (referring back to ‘beauty’ and ‘love’). But what is ‘sie’ in the final line (‘Daß sie hier gewesen’). If this too is ‘they’ the line would mean something like ‘The fact that beauty and love used to be here’. However, most readers are likely to conclude that ‘sie’ means ‘she’, the beloved that is now lost. Although she was addressed directly as ‘du’ (you) in stanza 1, by the end of the text the poet has come to accept his distance from her. She is now referred to in the third person. This is another type of distancing and loss.

Original Spelling and note on the text

Daß sie hier gewesen

Daß der Ostwind Düfte
Hauchet in die Lüfte,
Dadurch thut er kund,
Daß du hier gewesen.

Daß  hier Thränen rinnen,
Dadurch wirst du innen,
Wär's dir sonst nicht kund,
Daß ich hier gewesen.

Schönheit oder Liebe,
Ob versteckt sie bliebe?
Düfte thun es und
Thränen kund,
Daß sie hier gewesen.

1  Schubert changed the original 'Weil' (Because) to 'Daß' (The fact that)

Confirmed by Peter Rast with Schubert’s source, Oestliche Rosen von Friedrich Rückert. Drei Lesen., Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1822, page 368.

To see an early edition of the text, go to page 368  [Erstes Bild  376] here: https://download.digitale-sammlungen.de/BOOKS/download.pl?id=bsb10117423