Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apropos of nothing...

The Korean attended a concert in which Robert Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust was played. The songs were in German, and had an English translation in the programs.

One part of the music features four grey women, named Need, Guilt, Worry and Sorrow. The Korean was particularly struck by Worry's song -- in essence, it said Worry makes one paralyzed, such that one "starves, food in hand." Recently, the Korean had a lot of worry in his head, which made the song really resonate with him.

So he decided to come home and get the full lyrics, so that he can put it up somewhere and remind himself not to worry. After coming home, the Korean punched in the words he remembered in Google. (He lost the program on the way back.) And...

Nothing! The Korean could not find the English translation of Scenes from Goethe's Faust on the Internet. That was surprising. There was something not available on the Internet?


  1. If you can find someone who speaks German...


    Or you can go with the crappy machine translation

    Here's a sample...
    WORRY. Who do I once I possess
    The whole world is of no use:
    Perpetual Gloomy descends,
    Sun is not yet under,
    In consummate external senses
    Home darkness inside,
    And he knows of all the treasures
    Not to sit in possession.
    Happiness and unhappiness is to cricket
    He starved to death in the fullness
    Be it bliss, be it plague,
    Moves first on the other days,
    If the only future awaiting,
    And it will never finish.

  2. One of my good friends is a pro. opera singer. I sent her a message two hours ago. I know that in her foreign operas, she has a translation so that she knows where to put the emphasis and, of course, what she's singing about. Will post if she sends a reply.

  3. I'm not perfect, when it comes to translations, but maybe mine is useful unitl you get an official one:

    Even if no ear could hear,
    I would still resonate in the heart;
    My shape changed,
    I wield my grim power:
    On paths, on waves,
    constantly fearful companion,
    always found, never looked for,
    so often flattered, so often cursed! -
    Have you never known worry?


    To whom I own once,
    the world will be of no use:
    Eternal darkness descends,
    the sun will neither rise nor set,
    with all exterior senses unflawed,
    darkness will live within,
    and of all the treasures,
    he can get hold of none.
    Luck and misfortune turn into locusts,
    he starves, food in hand.
    Be it pleasure, be it trouble,
    he defers it to another day,
    he is only aware of the future,
    and not able to finish a thing.


    Should he go? Should he come?
    Someone has made the decision for him;
    In the middle of a paved way,
    he staggers, stumbles with half steps.
    He loses himself, deeper and deeper,
    sees everything tilted,
    himself and others under pressure,
    drawing breath and suffocating,
    chocked and lifeless,
    not despairing, not devoted.
    An inexorable rolling,
    painful permission, adverse compulsion,
    erelong freedom, erelong smothering,
    half sleep, and poor reviving
    holds him in place
    and prepares him for hell.


    how I swiftly turn from you!
    People are blind all their life:
    And now, Faust, you'll be too in the end.

  4. something not available on the Internet?

    This is impossible!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. It looks like opera singers translate on their own. Whodda thunk it? Regardless, if it helps any, here's what she offered ...

    "I'm looking now! The most common way for me to get good translations is to sit down with the libretto and my trusty German dictionary, but I can sometimes find something online."

    And then later, after she couldn't find it (of course), this website ...


  7. The English lyrics in opera productions of non-English works are not standardized. They will vary from production to production. My favorite line from "La Fanciuelle del West" does not appear in Google, for example.

  8. I am sure there are many translation out there since Faust is one of the great classics of German literature. This is from Faust part 2.


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