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Nikolaus Lenau

Nikolaus Lenau

Nikolaus Lenau, an Austrian poet, lived from 1802 to 1850. He suffered from depression, and the gloom and heaviness of his feelings are fully expressed in his verse. In his desperate search for happiness and the idyllic peace, Lenau emigrated to America (Baltimore) in 1832, only to come back home 1 year later after being bitterly disillusioned by the country's materialism. His emotional instability resulted in his complete breakdown in 1844, which drove him to insanity.



Mist

Before my eyes, sad Mist, you veil
The mountain and the wood,
The river flowing through the dale,
The sun's beautitude.

Take from me with your night's pale gray
The whole world, far and wide,
What makes me sad, oh, take away,
The Past, the Yestertide.

photo of painting "Monastery Graveyard in the Snow

[ this is a photograph of the painting by Caspar David Friedrich, "Monastery Graveyard in the Snow". The painting was destroyed during World War II.]


Winter Night

With cold the air is still as death,
Beneath my feet the snow cracks brittle;
My beard is iced, white hangs my breath;
Onward, stride on, nor pause a little.

How solemn-still the landscape lies,
The moon on the old firs is shining;
As if in love with death they rise,
Their branches back to earth reclining.

Frost, freeze me to the very heart,
Stilling its passion and its riot,
And to it peace at last impart
As deep as this night landscape's quiet.

The Sick at Heart

Deep in my heart a mortal wound I know;
Silent I'll bear it till life's utter end;
I feel its restless fangs that deeper rend
And how life crumbles in time's to-and-fro.

To one alone I would lament my woe;
To her alone my inmost sorrow send
Its cry of pain; and to her bosom bend
My heavy head -- but she died long ago.

O, Mother, come, nor heedless, hear my prayer!
If your dear love wakes still in very death,
And if you may, at once, give me your care,

Soon from this life let my last step be sped;
I wish still night to still my restless breath,
Oh, help pain put you weary child to bed.


Grief

Singing bird and fragrant flower,
Need your joy burst in such riot,
Storm my heart with such wild power?
Let me go my way in quiet.

From how many things we've parted
Since last time we came together;
And my tears have often started
In my joy's autumnal weather.

Winter stealthily came o'er me,
Chilled my heart and stilled my weeping;
And I saw hope's green before me
Pale to white in his fell keeping.

Birds and flowers, never lonely,
But in common joy united,
Don't remind me that I only
Exiled from the spring am blighted.

The End

Above each joy my eyes see wheeling
A vulture threatening overhead.
What I have loved with deepest feeling
And sought in life is lost or dead.

Death, angry, tore from my possession
My happiness, nor left a trace;
In Nature's cruel council session
The human heart has not a place.

No more my foolish hands try keeping
The bright foam on life's somber stream;
And from my eyes with bitter weeping
I've washed away my final dream.

"the Scream" by Edvard Munch
"the Scream" by Edvard Munch

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