For Belgium. Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921) Die Nacht (1911) to a poem by Hölderlin, conducted by Bernard Haitink, soloist Janet Baker
My translation, slightly adapted for today’s situation. Hölderlin is hard to translate at the best of times. The breaks above representing Diepenbrock’s setting of the poem. Note how Diepenbrock describes the violin, the traverse of the mood and the crowing cocks
The city is quiet, all around. The lights in the streets have gone dark.
Vehicles rush past, torches aflame.
The joys of the day forgotten, people go home,
Winners and losers, a thoughtful head wonders,
grateful for the day’s work.
The market place lies empty, no grapes, no flowers, bereft of human activity.
But a lute (violin) sings from a
shining, amazed, garden far away.
Perhaps the player is someone who loves,
or some lonely person is thinking of lost friends
and of childhood days past and of fountains
ever-flowing and fresh, splashing onto beds of flowers,
In the dimming light, bells are heard, ringing the numbers of the hours,
like the Guardian of the Night.
Now comes a breeze, over the hilltops and groves.
Look ! the moon, a reverse image of our world, creeps
and the night falls full of stars : indifferent to our worldLy cares
Shining, astonishing, the moon traverses the skies above mankind..
Yet, in the mountains beyond the city, cocks are crowing with the rising dawn.
Original Source: For Belgium : Alphons Diepenbrock Die Nacht