Präludium (Words by Morgenstern)

After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Simon left for Zürich, where he stayed only a few months before relocating to Amsterdam, where his wife lived (though the couple had separated by this point). This piece was written between July 17th and 20th of 1933, with lyrics by Christian Morgenstern, and dedicated to Toni Appelbaum, whom Simon had formed a relationship with, though the circumstances of their initial meeting are unknown.

Dedication: Meiner lieben Toni zur Erinnerung an Sonnentage des Lebens (To my lovely Toni in remembrance of the Sundays of Life)

A literal translation of the dedication would say “sunny days” of life, but Dr. Nico Schüler, who kindly provided this translation, remarked that this is a play on words (“Sonntage” means Sundays, “Sonnentage” means sunny days)

Manuscript courtesy of Leo Baeck Institute, James Simon Collection.

Text and Translation

Singe, o singe dich, Seele,
über den Eintag empor in die
himmlischen Reiche der Schönheit!
Bade in goldenen Strömen der Töne dich rein
vom Staube der Sorgen!

Was dir die Welt geraubt, vergiß es!
Was dir dein Los verwehrt,
genieß es im Traum!
Auf klingenden Wellen
kommen die heimlichsten Wunder
wie Düfte
ferner Gärten
zu deinen leis zitternden Sinnen

Singe, singe, Seele des Menschen,
vom Grauen der Nächte bedroht,
dich empor,
wo, lichtumgürtet,
der Phantasien
jungfräulicher Reigen
die zierlichen Füße
auf nie verblühenden Wiesen
verführerisch setzt
Sing, o sing yourself, soul
Over the Oneday aloft into the
Heavenly realm of beauty!
Bathe yourself in golden streams of tones free
of the dust of worries!

Whatever the world stole, forget it!
Whatever your fortune denied you,
enjoy it in your dream!
On sounding waves
come the most secret wonders
like fragrances
of distant gardens
to your quietly quavering senses.

Sing, sing, soul of man,
threatened by the horror of the nights,
yourself aloft,
where, light-engirded,
the fantasies
of maiden round-dances
set the petite feet
on never-withering meadows
seductively.

Translation Notes (from Dr. Nico Schüler): The word “Eintag” in the second line of the poem isn’t a real word. Rather, it’s a play on words – “ein Tag” means “one day,” but rather than referring to a weekday (of which all are named) or daily routine, it’s an imaginary “Oneday.”