'Wehmut' by Joseph Freiherr Von Eichendorff


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Joseph von Eichendorff, werke in vier Bnden; Band 1: Gedichte, Mncen, Wien 19811841Ich kann wohl manchmal singen,
Als ob ich frhlich sei,
Doch heimlich Trnan dringen,
Da wird das Herz mir frei.So lassen Nachtigallen,
Spielt drauen Frhlingsluft,
Der Sehnsucht Lied erschallen
Aus ihres Kfigs Gruft.Da lauschen alle Herzen,
Und alles ist erfreut,
Doch keiner fhlt die Schmerzen,
Im Lied das tiefe Leid.

Editor 1 Interpretation

An Ode to Melancholy: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation of Joseph Freiherr Von Eichendorff's Wehmut

As the German Romantic era flourished in the late 18th century, a shift in poetic themes and styles emerged. One such poet who captured the essence of Romanticism was Joseph Freiherr Von Eichendorff. His poem "Wehmut" or "Melancholy" is a beautiful expression of the longing, sadness, and wistfulness that pervaded the Romantic literary movement.

The Poem and Its Structure

"Wehmut" is a lyrical poem consisting of three stanzas with eight lines each. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABABCDCD, and it follows the iambic tetrameter.

Die Sonne sinkt ins Meer,
Das Feuer funkelt im Herd,
An meiner Seite lehnt
Die Liebe, still und warm.
Was weinst du denn, mein Herz?
»O laß mich, es kommt nur so!
Ich weiß nicht, wie das kommt,
Daß ich so traurig bin.«

Die Winde fangen an zu sausen,
Die Wolken jagen im Lauf,
Die Blätter fallen von den Bäumen,
Und fernher rauscht die Flut.
Was schläfst du denn, mein Herz?
»O laß mich, es geht schon vorbei!
Ich weiß nicht, wie das kommt,
Daß ich so traurig bin.«

Wir haben viel geliebet und gehoffet,
Und sind manche Stunde so froh
Durch Feld und Wald und Fluren geschritten,
Wie das weiter auch immer mag.
Was pochst du denn so sehr, mein Herz?
»O laß mich, ich sterbe vor Lust!
Ich weiß nicht, wie das kommt,
Daß ich so traurig bin.«

The poem's opening stanza sets the mood, with a serene setting of the sun sinking into the sea, and a warm fire in the hearth. The speaker's lover is beside them, yet the speaker is still sad and melancholic. In the second stanza, the scene shifts to the winds blowing, clouds racing, and leaves falling, which typically signify the onset of winter. Despite the change of season, the speaker's melancholy remains, and their heart beats heavily.

The final stanza acknowledges the past joys and hopes shared with the lover, but the speaker's heart still beats heavily. They are overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions, and they cannot explain why they are so sad.

The Meaning and Themes

The poem's theme is melancholy, and how it can linger even in the presence of beauty and comfort. The speaker is not explicitly expressing their sadness but merely acknowledging it, which is typical of Eichendorff's work. The poem is not a lament or a call to action, but a reflection on the power of melancholy in the human experience.

The poem's themes are quintessential to the Romantic era, where the emotions of the individual were at the forefront. The speaker's emotions are the primary focus of the poem, and their melancholy is not explained or justified. Instead, it is presented as an essential part of the human condition.

Another crucial theme is the idea of transience. The sunsetting, the leaves falling, and the changing seasons all signify the impermanence of life. The speaker's sadness, too, is fleeting, as they reassure themselves that it will pass. The poem, therefore, leaves a sense of wistfulness in the reader, as they too are reminded of the fleeting nature of life.

Eichendorff's use of nature imagery is also significant in the poem. The sea, the fire, the winds, and the leaves all create a vivid and naturalistic setting that emphasizes the poem's themes. The imagery also invokes a sense of timelessness, as the natural elements have existed long before the speaker and will continue to exist after they are gone.

The Language and Style

Eichendorff's language in "Wehmut" is simple and straightforward, which was typical of the Romantic era. The poem's tone is contemplative and introspective, with the speaker's thoughts and emotions being the primary focus. The language is not flowery or overly ornate, which contrasts with the Baroque and Rococo styles that preceded the Romantic era.

The use of repetition is also noticeable in the poem, with the opening line of each stanza repeating the phrase "Was weinst du denn, mein Herz?" (Why are you crying, my heart?) and the speaker's response, "O laß mich, es kommt nur so! Ich weiß nicht, wie das kommt, Daß ich so traurig bin." (Oh, leave me, it just comes! I don't know why I'm so sad.) The repetition reinforces the speaker's feeling of helplessness, as they cannot explain their melancholy.

Eichendorff's use of enjambment is also notable, with some lines continuing over to the next stanza. This technique blurs the boundaries between stanzas, creating a sense of continuity and unity in the poem.

The Significance

"Wehmut" is a quintessential example of Romantic poetry, which sought to emphasize individual emotions and experiences. The poem's themes of melancholy and transience are timeless, and the poem's simplicity and introspection make it accessible to readers of all ages.

Eichendorff's work has influenced countless writers and artists, including the composer Gustav Mahler, who set "Wehmut" to music in his song cycle, "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen." The poem's evocative language and imagery have also inspired painters, such as Caspar David Friedrich, who sought to capture the Romantic's sense of awe and wonder at the natural world.

Conclusion

Joseph Freiherr Von Eichendorff's "Wehmut" is a beautiful expression of the melancholy and wistfulness that pervaded the Romantic literary movement. The poem's themes of melancholy and transience are timeless and accessible, and the poem's simplicity and introspection make it an excellent example of Romantic poetry. Through its evocative language and imagery, "Wehmut" has influenced countless writers and artists and remains a significant work in the literary canon.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Wehmut: A Masterpiece of Romanticism

Joseph Freiherr Von Eichendorff, a German poet, is considered one of the most prominent figures of the Romantic era. His works are known for their lyrical and emotional nature, and his poem "Wehmut" is no exception. This masterpiece of Romanticism is a perfect example of Eichendorff's ability to capture the essence of human emotions and the beauty of nature.

"Wehmut" is a German word that translates to "melancholy" or "nostalgia." The poem is a reflection of the speaker's feelings of sadness and longing for the past. The speaker is walking through a forest, and the beauty of nature around him triggers memories of his youth. He remembers the carefree days of his childhood and the people he loved who are no longer with him. The poem is a beautiful portrayal of the human experience of nostalgia and the bittersweet feeling of longing for something that is gone forever.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The use of a consistent rhyme scheme and meter gives the poem a musical quality, which is typical of Romantic poetry. The poem's structure is simple, but the emotions it conveys are complex and profound.

The first stanza sets the tone for the poem. The speaker is walking through a forest, and the beauty of nature around him triggers memories of his youth. He remembers the carefree days of his childhood and the people he loved who are no longer with him. The speaker's nostalgia is evident in the lines, "O wie mich da so fröhlich macht / ein Vogelruf, ein Klingen, / das fernher durch den Wald wohl dringt, / als ob es Glocken wären." (Oh, how a bird's call, a sound, / That through the forest rings, / Can make me feel so happy now, / As if they were church bells ringing.)

The speaker's use of the word "fröhlich" (happy) is ironic because he is feeling sad. The bird's call and the sound of the forest remind him of his youth, and he longs to go back to those carefree days. The use of the word "Glocken" (church bells) is significant because it suggests that the speaker is longing for a time when life was simpler and more innocent.

The second stanza is more introspective. The speaker reflects on the passing of time and the inevitability of change. He says, "Es ist, als ob die Tage fliehn / und dass sich alles neiget; / ich schaue wie nach fernsten Höhn / nach jedem Glücke, das entschwebet." (It's as if the days are flying by, / And everything is bending low; / I look as if to distant heights, / For every happiness that goes.)

The use of the word "neiget" (bending low) suggests that the speaker is aware of the passing of time and the transience of life. He longs for the happiness of his youth, but he knows that it is gone forever. The use of the word "entschwebet" (goes) suggests that the speaker is aware of the fleeting nature of happiness and how it can slip away from us.

The third stanza is the most emotional. The speaker's nostalgia reaches its peak, and he expresses his longing for the people he loved who are no longer with him. He says, "Und ach, die Stimmen, ihre Saiten / verhallen in der Erden Nacht, / o dass ich sie noch einmal hören könnte, / die mich im Leben glücklich gemacht!" (And oh, their voices, their strings, / Are fading in the earth's dark night; / Oh, that I could hear them once again, / Those who made me happy in life!)

The use of the word "verhallen" (fading) suggests that the speaker is aware of the passing of time and the inevitability of death. He longs to hear the voices of his loved ones once again, but he knows that it is impossible. The use of the word "glücklich" (happy) is significant because it suggests that the speaker's memories of his loved ones are associated with happiness and joy.

In conclusion, "Wehmut" is a masterpiece of Romanticism that captures the essence of human emotions and the beauty of nature. The poem is a beautiful portrayal of the human experience of nostalgia and the bittersweet feeling of longing for something that is gone forever. The use of a consistent rhyme scheme and meter gives the poem a musical quality, which is typical of Romantic poetry. The poem's structure is simple, but the emotions it conveys are complex and profound. Eichendorff's ability to capture the essence of human emotions and the beauty of nature makes "Wehmut" a timeless masterpiece of Romanticism.

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