Liebeslied (Words by Rilke)

Composed by James Simon in Amsterdam, between March 7th and 8th of 1934. Translation of the dedication was provided by Dr. Nico Schüler of Texas State University. The translation of the text is from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Dedication: Der Fernen und doch Nahen von einem, der fröhlich war in seiner Arbeit am 7 & 8 March 34. (To the distant and yet near, from one who was happy in his work on March 7 & 8, [19]34)

Manuscript courtesy of Leo Baeck Institute, James Simon Collection.

Text and Translation

Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, daß
sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie
hinheben über dich zu andern Dingen?
Ach gerne möcht ich sie bei irgendwas
Verlorenem im Dunkel unterbringen
an einer fremden stillen Stelle, die
nicht weiterschwingt, wenn deine Tiefen schwingen.
Doch alles, was uns anrührt, dich und mich,
nimmt uns zusammen wie ein Bogenstrich,
der aus zwei Saiten eine Stimme zieht.
Auf welches Instrument sind wir gespannt?
Und welcher Spieler hat uns in der Hand?
O süßes Lied!
How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

Translation from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell.