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Franz Schubert made two settings of An den Mond, D. 259 and D. 296 (written later that year). Though simpler and earlier, I prefer D 259 (1819). It is strophic, rather than through-composed. The through-composed version has its charms for me also, but I prefer the simplicity of D 259.

This is one of my favorite songs of all time and I am forever trying to figure out how to capture this piece of music in words before giving up and singing it to myself.


D. 259

An den Mond (D. 259). Werner Güra, tenor; Christoph Berner, accompanist.

An den Mond (d. 259). Matthias Goerne, baritone; Andreas Haefliger, piano (2013).

D. 296

An den Mond (D. 296) with lyrics and translation. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Gerald Moore, piano.

The text with translation

Füllest wieder Busch und Tal
Still mit Nebelglanz,
Lösest endlich auch einmal
Meine Seele ganz;
Once more you fill bush and valley
With your misty light,
At last also you bring
Rest to me
Breitest über mein Gefild
Lindernd deinen Blick,
Wie des Freundes Auge mild
Über mein Geschick.
With calm you spread your brilliant gaze
Over the fields around me
Like my loved one watching my fate
With his gentle eyes
Jeden Nachklang fühlt mein Herz
Froh- und trüber Zeit,
Wandle zwischen Freud’ und Schmerz
In der Einsamkeit.
Every echo fills my heart
With memories of glad and sad times,
I pass between the happiness and pain
In loneliness.
Fließe, fließe, lieber Fluß!
Nimmer werd’ ich froh;
So verrauschte Scherz und Kuß
Und die Treue so.
Flow on, flow on my beloved river,
Happiness will not return to me
Thus they passed from me
Laughter, kisses and fidelity.
[Ich besaß es doch einmal,
was so köstlich ist!
Daß man doch zu seiner Qual
Nimmer es vergißt!]*
Though once I held
what is so precious,
What one to his torment
Will never forget.
[Rausche, Fluß, das Tal entlang,
Ohne Rast und Ruh,
Rausche, flüstre meinem Sang
Melodien zu!]*
Rumble, o river, along the valley,
Without rest or silence,
Rumble and whisper melodies
For my song.
[Wenn du in der Winternacht
Wütend überschwillst
Oder um die Frühlingspracht
Junger Knospen quillst.]*
When on winter nights you
Rage and spill your banks,
Or when you surge around
The springtime glory of young buds
Selig, wer sich vor der Welt
Ohne Haß verschließt,
Einen Freund am Busen hält
Und mit dem genießt,
Blessed are we who withdraw
From the world without hate
Holding a friend to the breast,
And with him enjoy
Was, von Menschen nicht gewußt
Oder nicht bedacht,
Durch das Labyrinth der Brust
Wandelt in der Nacht.
That which is not known to man
Or not contemplated
Wandering in the night
Through the labyrinth of the heart.

* This stanza is omitted in the strophic setting by Franz Schubert, but is included in the through-composed version.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, An den Mond (1778) in Sämtliche Werke vol. 2.1, pp. 34-36 (K. Richter ed. 1987)(S.H. transl.)

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