(Poet's title: Der Abend)
Set by Schubert:
[July 15, 1815]
Part of Kosegarten (putative cycle)
Der Abend blüht,
Im Glanz der tiefgesunknen Sonne.
Es küsst die See
Von Ehrfurcht schaudernd und von Wonne.
Ein grauer Duft
Durchwebt die Luft,
Umschleiert Daura’s güldne Auen.
Es rauscht umher
Das düstre Meer,
Und rings herrscht ahnungsreiches Grauen.
O trautes Land!
O heil’ger Strand!
O Flur, die jede Flur verdunkelt.
Flur, deren Schoß
Die Blum’ entspross,
Die alle Blumen überfunkelt.
Paart nicht den Schnee
Die Holde mit der Glut der Rosen.
Die Au, Ein Kranz
Voll Duft und Glanz
Reicht ihr den Preis, der Tadellosen.
Durchweht die Luft
Umwürzet rings die Näh und Ferne.
Und stirbt das Licht
Des Liedes nicht,
So reicht ihr Nam’ einst an die Sterne.
O trautes Land,
O hehrer Strand,
Sei stolz auf deiner Blumen Blume.
Das heil’ge Meer
Und rings umher
Die Inseln huld’gen deinem Ruhme – –
Nacht hüllt den Strand,
Verlodert sind des Spätrots Gluten.
Das Weltmeer grollt,
Und glutrot rollt
Der Vollmond aus den düstern Fluten.
The evening is blossoming,
Temora is glowing
In the radiance of the deep-sunken sun.
The sea is kissing
The sun as it sinks,
Trembling with reverence and bliss.
A grey haze
Is weaving through the air,
Veiling Daura’s golden meadows.
Rumbling around is
The gloomy sea,
And round about there reigns a greyness that is rich in foreboding.
Oh, holy coastline!
Oh, field that puts all other fields into the shade;
Field out of whose womb
Sprouted the flower
That outshines all other flowers.
Is not snow often linked with
As is this beautiful one with the blushing of roses?
The meadow is a single garland
Full of scent and radiance,
Given as a prize to the spotless one.
Her amber scent
Wafts through the air
Adding spice all around, near and far,
And if the light
Of this song does not die
Her name will even reach the stars.
Oh, holy coastline!
Be proud of your flower of flowers.
The holy sea
And all around
The islands proclaim your renown.
Night covers the coast,
Temora has disappeared,
The sparks of the late sunset have flared and died.
The world sea grumbles,
And glowing red, rolling
Out of the gloomy floods, rises the full moon.
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.
In the 1802 edition of Kosegarten’s poems (the one used by Schubert) the location is ‘Temora’, though in the original edition it was ‘Arkona’ (a real place on the northern tip of Rügen in the Baltic, the poet’s home island). The name ‘Temora’ is taken from Ossian (Macpherson), where it refers to the home of Irish kings, whose works Schubert was setting to music around the same time that he was working on Kosegarten.
The beginning and the end of Kosegarten’s text establish the backdrop: the coastline, the setting sun, the grey mist, the rumbling sea, the rising moon. Although the text is called ‘The Evening’ the main theme of the middle strophes seems at first to be strangely unconnected with this general context. What matters most on the whole island is the flower of flowers, presumably a specific beloved woman. It is her scent which becomes the overriding sensation even against the majestic setting of this vividly evoked sunset. It is her name that might even rise to the stars by means of the poet’s song. Perhaps, though, you need to be in the dimension of the stars to hear the name, since we listeners / hearers never get to know it. For us, she remains a flower, the beauteous one, the spotless one, the recipient of nature’s own garlands.
However, the coast and the sea (the subject of the opening and closing evocation of the sunset) pay homage to her renown, so she must infuse the whole scene. The sexualised imagery of the sunset (the sea kissing the setting sun and trembling in ecstasy, the flaming and dying embers of the sunset, the motion and groaning of the waters, the emergence of the glowing red moon) is therefore linked inextricably with the rosy glow of the unnamed beloved. As soon as we see that the flower of flowers is as fully present in the outer strophes as in the inner ones, we can begin to make sense of the unusual mixture of tone that might strike us on a first reading.
Are we supposed to feel awe or terror? Is the primary sense one of reassuring comfort (the land is venerated because it is the poet’s home) or of ominous uncertainty (because of the grey haze that seems to get in the way of the brilliant sunset, and the rumbling sea)? How strong is the foreboding (stanza 2)? Why might the light of the song itself die (stanza 5)? How can we make sense of the double pairing of the lily and snow and the beloved and blushing (or glowing) roses? Since this double image comes at the crux of the text (in stanza 4 of a 7 stanza poem) we are presumably meant to read this as (literally) central. She, the flower of flowers, is both lily and rose, both white and red. We recall the first line of the poem (‘The evening is blossoming’) and we see her presence; we look forward to the end (the glowing red full moon – like the flower, both white and red at the same time) and see that she is there too. She is spotless, and honoured by the whole of surrounding nature; but at the same time she is involved with all the sensuous language of kissing, embracing, groaning and feeling.
Original Spelling Der Abend Der Abend blüht, Temora glüht Im Glanz der tiefgesunknen Sonne. Es küßt die See Die Sinkende, Von Ehrfurcht schaudernd und von Wonne. Ein grauer Duft Durchwebt die Luft, Umschleiert Daura's güld'ne Auen. Es rauscht umher Das düstre Meer, Und rings herrscht ahnungsreiches Grauen. O trautes Land! O heil'ger Strand! O Flur, die jede Flur verdunkelt. Flur, deren Schoß Die Blum' entsproß, Die alle Blumen überfunkelt. Paart nicht den Schnee Der Lilie Die Holde mit der Gluth der Rosen. Die Au´, Ein Kranz Voll Duft und Glanz Reicht ihr den Preis, der Tadellosen. Ihr Ambraduft Durchweht die Luft Umwürzet rings die Näh' und Ferne. Und stirbt das Licht Des Liedes nicht, So reicht ihr Nam' einst an die Sterne. O trautes Land, O hehrer Strand, Sey stolz auf deiner Blumen Blume. Das heil'ge Meer Und rings umher Die Inseln huld'gen deinem Ruhme - - Nacht hüllt den Strand, Temora schwand. Verlodert sind des Spatroths Gluthen. Das Weltmeer grollt, Und gluthrot rollt Der Vollmond aus den düstern Fluthen.
Confirmed by Peter Rastl with, L.T.Kosegarten’s Poesieen, Neueste Auflage, Dritter Band, Berlin 1803, pages 41-43; and with Ludwig Theoboul Kosegarten’s Poesieen. Dritter Band. Leipzig, bey Heinrich Gräff, 1802, pages 165-167.
Note: Kosegarten’s poem in its initial version has the title Ihre Flur and uses the name Arkona instead of Temora in the later version.
To see an early edition of the text, go to page 41 [45 von 274] here: http://digital.onb.ac.at/OnbViewer/viewer.faces?doc=ABO_%2BZ184217108