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Ausgewählte Übersetzungen von Liedern Oswalds von Wolkenstein ins Englische

Veröffentlicht in: Es fuegt sich. Lieder des Oswald von Wolkenstein. Gesungen von Kummer, Eberhard. Booklet mit Einführung und Übersetzungen von Sieglinde Hartmann und Ulrich Müller. CD. IMPACT Presentations. Wien 1998.

Kl. 6 “Ich spür ain tier” - Fear of Death
Kl. 18 “Es fügt sich” – Autobiographical Song
Kl. 19 „Es ist ain altgesprochner rat” - Voyage to Aragon and France
Kl. 31 “Der oben swebt und niden hebt“ - Prayer
Kl. 55 “Wes mich mein bül ie hat erfreut” – Trip to Hungary
Kl. 60 “Es nahet gen der vasennacht! - Shrovetide-Song
Kl. 70 “Her wiert, uns dürstet” - Drinking and Dancing Song
Kl. 83 The young, pretty, fresh, free girl – “Ain jetterin” – Mountain Pastoral
Kl. 85 “Nu huss!” sprach her Michel von Wolkenstein“ - Battle Song
Bibliographische Nachweise

“Ich spür ain tier” - Fear of Death

I see a beast with broad feet, its horns are sharp,
it wants to stamp me into the ground
and pierce me with a thrust.
It has turned its jaws towards me,
as if I am to be given it to devour.
It draws near
to my heart with deadly intent;
there is no escape for me.
Alas for my great distress,
since all the years I have wasted
are heaped up into a single day.
I am summoned to a dance
in which I will be presented with a great garland of all my sins,
an account that I must settle.
But if it is the will of God the one and only,
that sum will soon be crossed out.

Only now
do I wish to live wisely for just
one year in this world,
so that I might reduce
to a small repayment the debt
that I now alas must settle in full.
For this reason
my heart is full of fearful care,
and death is the smallest of my worries.
My soul, where will you be tomorrow?
Who will be your refuge and consolation
when you have to pay with fiery atonement?
Children, cousins, companions,
where is your help and counsel?
You take my worldly goods and leave me
on the lonely road to penance,
where all coin has little value,
except for good works; if only I'd done more of them!

without beginning or end, for the sake
of your great and divine mercy be my protector
and save me from the guile
of Lucifer and his companions,
so that I may be snatched back from the jaws of hell.
Mary, maid,
ask your dear son to recall his great suffering!
Since he has redeemed all Christians,
let him not forget me too,
and may I be encouraged by his martyrdom
when my soul slips from the fetters of my body.
World, give me your reward,
carry me off and quickly forget me.
If I had served the Lord instead of you
in this wild world
I would be on the right path.
God, creator, light the way for me, Wolkenstein! Amen

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Es fügt sich” – Autobiographical Song

It happened, when I was ten years old,
that I wanted to see what the world was like.
I've lived in misery and poverty in many hot and cold spots
with Christians, Greeks and heathens.
Threepence in my pocket and a crust of bread
were my only provisions when I ran into hardship.
I've spilled so many drops of blood
at the hands of strangers and kinsmen
since then that I thought I would die.
I travelled on foot like a penitent until my father
died, for fourteen years, and never owned a horse,
except for a dun-coloured one which I half stole and then
lost again in the same way, and painfully.
I was a messenger, cook and stable boy,
and also pulled an oar, a heavy one,
in Crete and elsewhere and back again.
I often wore a smock for my best clothes.

To Prussia, Lithuania, Tartary, Turkey and across the sea
I travelled at my own expense, driven by love,
to France, Lombardy and Spain with two kings' armies:
Ruprecht, Sigismund, both with the eagle pennant.
French, Moorish, Catalan, Castilian,
German, Latin, Slovenian, Italian, Russian and Romanian:
I used these ten languages when I needed to.
I could also play the fiddle, trumpet, drum and pipes.
I've sailed round islands and peninsulas, round many a land,
on big ships that saved me from the shackles of a storm.
I've sailed seas high and low.
The Black Sea taught me how to cling to a barrel,
when my brigantine broke up in calamity -
I was a merchant then - but I survived and got away,
myself and a Russian; in the turmoil capital and profit
went to the bottom, and I swam ashore.

A queen of Aragon was lovely and tender.
I knelt before her and at her request held out my beard to her.
With white hands she sweetly tied to it a delicate ring
and said: 'Never untie this'.
By her own hands my ears where pierced
with a brass needle and in accordance with her custom
she fastened two rings to them.
I wore them a long time, they are called 'raicades'.
At once I went to find King Sigismund, who,
when he recognised me, gaped, crossed himself
and exclaimed at once: 'What trinket is this you're showing me?',
and asked me kindly: 'Don't the rings hurt?'.
Men and women alike gazed at me in laughter;
there were nine persons of royal rank there
in Perpignan, and their Pope of Luna, called Pedro;
the King of Rome made ten, and there was also my lady of Prades.

I wanted to change my foolish life, truly I did,
and I became half a beghard for two whole years.
The beginning was certainly full of piety,
if love hadn't spoiled the ending for me.
All the time I rode in search of chivalrous sport,
serving a lady - I'll say no more -
she didn't want to give me so much as a bean of her favour
until a monk's habit had made a fool of me.
Much came easily to hand
when I was attired in hood and gown.
Never before or since has any maid who listened kindly
to what I had to say treated me so well.
Like a shot the piety flew out of the window
into the mist when I threw off the cowl.
Since then I have fought many a battle
with sorrow and my joy has been half frozen.

It would take too long to tell all my troubles.
But above all I am tormented by one exquisite red mouth,
which has wounded my heart to the point of bitter death.
Standing before her my body has often been bathed in sweat.
In the presence of this tender maiden my face
has often blushed red, then turned pale.
Many a time I have lost feeling in my whole body,
trembling and sighing as if I were consumed by fire.
In great anxiety I have often fled two hundred miles
from her without ever being given hope of consolation.
Frost, rain and snow could never freeze me with pain so much
that I would not burn when the sun of my love shone on me.
When I am near her my whole being is no longer free.
It is because of this woman that I must travel foreign roads
in misery until her hostility is replaced by favour.
If she were to help me, my sadness would turn to joy.

Four hundred women and more
I found at Nios, living on that little island without a single man.
No one ever saw in any room a picture of such beauty.
Yet none of them could compare with this woman,
for whose love I bear so heavy a burden on my back.
O heaven, if she only knew of half the sorrow that weighs me down
I would feel lighter, whatever my pain,
and would hold out hope that she might take pity on me.
Often, when far from her, I must wring my hands,
painfully deprived of her greeting,
and whether it is early in the day or late I can find neither peace nor sweet sleep;
for this I address my complaint to her lovely white arms.
All you young lovers, men and women, think of my sorrow
and of how happy I was when the charming woman wished me a loving farewell.
On my honour, if I thought I would never see her again,
my eye would shed many a tear in regret.

I have lived some forty years, less two,
in wild abandon and with much singing and composing.
It is about time I heard, as a married man,
the sound of my own child howling in a cradle.
Yet I can never ever forget the woman
who gave me inspiration in this earthly life;
nowhere in the world could I find her equal.
And I'm also very afraid of nagging wives.
Many a wise man who has found pleasure in my songs
and my music has esteemed me for my judgment and counsel.
I, Wolkenstein, do indeed not live in a wise manner,
having for so long been in tune with this world,
and I well realise that I do not know when death will overtake me,
and that nothing brighter will follow me than payment for my deeds.
If I had served God according to his command,
I would have little to fear from the searing flames over there.

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Es ist ain altgesprochen rat” - Voyage to Aragon and France

It's an old saying,
one that goes back a hundred years and more:
if a man has never tasted sorrow,
how can he know joy?
And if I myself have always been lucky,
I paid for it in full in Catalonia and in Spain,
where they're fond of eating chestnuts.

And what my beard suffered
at the hands of the fair damsels of Constance,
when the sealstone was skilfully
snipped from my purse,
it's an uneven contest --
two tugging against one --
compared to how I fared in Aragon
and in the town called Perpignan.

If anyone wants to catch a bird
and to stop it flying away,
he must set a trap and entice it temptingly,
so as to deceive it.
With the aid of nets, snares and a cleft stick
many a noble bird, beset by such trickery,
falls prey to deceit
and forfeits his life.

Pipes, trumpets and strings,
the Moors beat their drums
and there was a mass of people,
drawn up neatly, carrying towers and turrets,
with angels in splendid apparel;
they played and sang many tunes,
each with his own wondrous and exotic voice.

Rich and poor ran to meet us,
I was hoarse with the dust.
A dignified reception was given
to Sigismund, Emperor in waiting,
as he entered the town of Perpignan;
a bath was being prepared,
and if they had made it too hot for him
we would all have suffered.

He was greeted with kisses
by kings, queens young and old.
But after the young one, I noticed,
he didn't wipe his mouth.
If the Schism had involved ladies
we would have achieved unity sooner
than with Twisty Pete
and his pal the devil.

Now I've never seen longer tails
on lions and peacocks
than the ones the ladies of that country
have on the back of their skirts;
rings in their ears and red nails;
before they'd offer you their hand to shake
they'd dare to give you
a sweet smacker on the lips.

King Sigismund toiled away
every day for eighteen weeks
with popes, bishops and cardinals;
and if all those who turned out
to be false and favoured the Schism
had had knives stuck in them,
I would have whistled a lament
for them as they were carted off.

Many a cunning ruse was hatched
by these people as they bowed and scraped;
while I had to spend many
a long night on a mattress.
I couldn't rest on its hard hair,
which came from an old cow
called 'Moo’, or so
a mute man told me last year.

The lord of Oetting liked
to sound reveille on my head,
like a raven pecking
a dead steer's skull.
In return I chucked shoes at him
-- and not soft ones--
so you could see
the marks on his hide.

The Duke of Brieg -- no fool he --
often lay brooding. More than once
I got up and showed him a good morning,
with my back end rather than my front;
for that I often had a hard shoe
thrown at me, with an angry curse to boot,
so I had to retreat from
him under the covers.

Now this tale would take a long time
to tell if I had thought it out properly.
One morning Sir Baumgarten helped
Sir Fritz to some 'holy water'
from a smelly pot, marking
his cheeks, his jacket and the bedclothes
with yellow stripes;
Sir Fritz was left to make sense of that.

When I heard the big bell
sounding the alarm,
a moment seemed to me too long
and I felt no desire to sing.
'You wretched little bell', I thought,
'if I were at home in Wolkenstein castle
with my lords and companions,
I'd have no fear of your chimes'.

The tolling of that same alarm bell
so startled me with its din
that I fell down a staircase
with an elegant crash.
There I found my lord (the king) standing
manfully in his armour,
girded with his sword.
A wild tumult broke out.

My good purse does not cause me regret
-- its name was 'Sir Gold' --
since Christendom was put
in order at Narbonne.
Duke of Brieg, Bishop of Riga,
great Count, King Sigismund's victory
is owed to you;
you will be rewarded,

as will all those who left
behind horses and armour there,
and if any of them had
to trudge along a muddy road
they will all achieve grace
if they walk gladly and in true devotion.
I myself managed to bring back
only two and a half of my horses.

Now, little Pete, you wicked cat,
you luny young rascal,
your old monk's pate has let you down this time.
In Avignon I heard
a proclamation by kings, lords and lands
who had previously believed in you
but are now the pipers, screeching the tune
while you dance on the boards.

That meant we all paraded
in a great jostling throng,
with pipes, drums and bells playing
and singing praise to the Lord.
At night there was a dance,
and look, the end of Pedro's pate was
lamented by many a fair maid,
in dancing and dalliance.

All things are quick to change:
I'm thinking of my purse.
Someone went home with two,
and I left one behind.
That money-belt went right round my waist.
Many a man who takes a noblewoman
to wife would think himself well off
if he had such a dowry.

But all that doesn't seem so bad
since the fair Margaret
pierced my ears with a needle,
which is a custom of her country.
That same noble queen
fastened two gold rings to them
and hung one in my beard;
thus adorned she bade me show off.

A noble title was bestowed on me:
Viscount of Turkey.
Many took me for a heathen nobleman.
A splendid Moorish costume, red with gold,
was given to me by King Sigismund.
Wearing this, I swaggered about
and sang and danced in heathen style.

In Paris thousands of people
thronged the alleys, roads and houses;
men, women and children
stood for two miles,
all staring at
Sigismund, man of Rome,
and calling me a fool
in my cap and bells.

The national delegations of all the faculties
with their cudgels of gold
paid him greater honour
than an angel as he sat
on a throne in a great hall,
and each school praised him
in a magisterial fashion;
there were students and professors without number.

In my old age I learned
to walk on my knees;
I didn't dare stand up
as I approached her:
I mean Lady Else of France,
a most illustrious queen,
who with her own hand
decorated my beard with a diamond.

In broad lakes you can
catch fish by casting nets,
so money was placed on a table before me:
there must have been four and a half big sacks full of it.
King Sigismund filled my purse
with a heap of silver coins,
so that I needed
two others to help me carry it.

Urgent necessity called me away
from there, I had to ride off.
King Sigismund, man of noble blood,
would not have me delay.
In Paris he gave me his hand in farewell
and sailed over to England --
to reconcile the kings,
by the way.

Of all Frenchmen I'll sing the praise
of one loyal man, whose worthiness
seems to me quite rare (par ma foi!):
my noble lord of Savoy.
For that he was raised by the Emperor's
hand to the rank of Duke,
on the occasion of which many a man fell
on his back when podium and throne collapsed.

However much I see, hear, sing and tell
of the chequered ways of the world,
on Judgment Day
a bag is the same as strap
and a bell tower is worth as much as a vinegar jar.
If we had given our soul its due,
so that it remained unscathed,
I would have sung the right song.

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Der oben swebt und niden hebt” - Prayer

He who hovers above and raises from below,
who moves before and behind and beside,
who lives eternally and was always without beginning,
who is old and young, and has been from the start
encompassed threefold in a single word,
mysteriously entwined without dissonance,
who died in torment yet was not dead,
who was conceived in chastity, born handsome
and without pain by a virgin fair,
who performed great miracles,
broke open hell and sorely assailed the devil,
who feeds all roots with sap through stems and umbels.

He to whom the caskets of all hearts are open,
be they coarse, imperfect, mean, noble or fine,
so that He sees there all manner of thoughts;
to whom all actions are subject,
the stars in heaven, sun, moon
and earth, man and beast, all moving waters;
from whom all knowledge flows,
who with great skill designs
and brings out the beauty of all creatures;
to whom all animals on earth, tame and wild,
are grateful that He shaped the seed
of their ample nourishment and scattered it in great abundance;

who has flawlessly underpinned heaven and earth
without the need of foundation,
leads waters through strange channels -
there are many thousands more wonders
to sing of in resonant song,
but I am hindered by the limits of my skill -
who has given me a pure soul,
life, honour and possessions, reason and the mantle of Christianity:
let Him help me to thank Him
to such effect that I keep my enemies at bay,
both here and over there, so that none of them may injure me.
Chaste virgin, let your aid be my protection!

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Wes mich mein bül ie hat erfreut” – Trip to Hungary

What my love once gave me to enjoy
I’ve since had to gulp down
together with a lot of rusty iron
that I had to taste at her bidding.
And there’s been a lot of that.
I have had little luck
since she strung me up painfully
by the feet, in her sweet way, on an iron beam,
not to mention other heavy burdens
that her love imposed on me.
If I’m supposed to thank her for it
she’ll have a long wait.


Thanks to her,
here in Hungary
I’m having to put up
with the pests with
seven feet [=fleas].
They tread me
and pluck me
and knead me
and wound me,
to help me pay for my sins.

In Pressburg in front of the stove-door
I took counsel with Ebser.
I was able to poke the fire and stoke up the heat
so I made the king come out.
I appeared before him so he couldn’t miss me.
He said to me ‘Your troubles
have been caused by that woman who jilted you
because your strings didn’t sound anymore’.
I gave him a straight answer:
‘If I had as heavy a purse as Your Grace, let me tell you,
I would have fared better with my lady.’

Refrain: Thanks to her...

I hope my case goes well,
if Duke Frederick stops attacking me;
if he doesn’t, the fun will be over.
He’s asking for 6000 guilders:
then the love-affair would really turn sour on me.
If I’d stopped when she said no,
my back wouldn’t be banging against a wooden bed
all night, here in Hungary
where they make pillows out of saddles.
So let every lover endeavour
to love in such a way that he is still laughing at the end.

Refrain: Thanks to her...

Translation by Alan Robertshaw
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“Es nahet gen der vasennacht!” - Shrovetide-Song

It's getting near Shrove Tuesday,
so let us rejoice and be merry.
You pair off in twos,
just like sweet little doves.
But I have chosen for
my fair companion a crutch,
which my lover gave to me
instead of a loving caress.


And I hug the crutch
close to me,
so it nestles tenderly under my arm;
I give it a firm squeeze
and make it squeal.
How could the Shrovetide be more
completely spoiled for me?
Pah! Now stop your wailing!

Since wild birds are
now paired off in peaceful harmony,
why should 'tame' young people
be slow to welcome this happy time
by kissing and hugging a beautiful woman?
Come on, let's see how you taste!
Enjoy your young bodies, away from prying eyes
and free of cares!

Refrain: And I hug the crutch...

Shrovetide and Maytime:
they play on the same pipe!
Everything that has been hidden away all the year now
comes out into the light of day.
But my lady stored away her treachery
for a deceitful invitation
in the autumn. A curse on that pilgrimage of hers
[to which she enticed me]! It's left me with a limp.

Refrain: And I hug the crutch...

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Her wiert, uns dürstet” - Drinking and Dancing Song

Tapster! We're so thirsty!
Get some wine! Get some wine! Get some wine!
May the Lord end your misery!
Bring us wine! Bring us wine! Bring us wine!
And double your fortune:
now fill up! now fill up! now fill up!

Maggy, won't you be my sweetie?
Just tell me, tell! Just tell me, tell! Just tell me, tell!
Yes, if you'll buy me a purse,
I might do it, I might do it, I might do it!
But dont't harm my skin!
Start pricking, prick it! Start pricking, prick it! Start pricking, prick it!

Gee, Johnny, won't you dance with me?
Well, do come! Well, do come! Well, do come!
We'll be jumping like randy goats.
Don't stumble, John! Don't stumble, John! Don't stumble, John!
And spare my slot!
Push gently, push! Go on pushing, push! Push, Johnny, push!

Pipe up, Henry, Philly-Boy, Sweetheart!
Fresh, funny, free! Fresh, funny, free! Fresh, funny, free!
Get together, move on, boom, ye drummy!
Jack, Lucie, Conny, Cathy, Benny, Clare,
leap like calves, all around, Jacky!
Hurray, hurrah! Hurray, hurrah! Hurray, hurrah!

On goes the dance, get the wine foaming!
Pass on! Pass on! Pass on! Jump up,
Henry, another fight!
Get up, Gentleman! Get up, Gentleman! Get up, Gentleman!
Mag, Tim, have the titbit!
Come on! Come on! Come on! Come on! Go!

Hurry up! they're all eating in the village!
Don't waste your time! Don't waste your time! Don't waste your time!
Follow up, Conny, lame fool!
You dummy, you! You dummy, you! You dummy, you!
Look around with your goggle-eyes!
Speed up, man, speed! Speed up, man, speed! Speed, speed, speed!

Translation by Sieglinde Hartmann

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The young, pretty, fresh, free girl – “Ain jetterin” - Mountain Pastoral

The young, pretty, fresh, free girl,
hoeing the weeds at a wild height on a steep mountain,
fills me with joy and raises my spirits,
up there at the time
when greenery spreads over the woods.
I lie in wait for her silently, just like a fox
hidden in the hedge.
Peep out of the undergrowth, snuggle up closer, lynx! -
- creeping on all fours,
without scaring her off,
until I can steal her bush.


Her red mouth is noble through and through
and sweet as sugar;
her feet are small, her legs white,
her breasts firm; her words and gestures
have an alpine charm.

I cause harm to a blackbird
and many a fine thrush
up there on Lenebach,
with a cleft stick that brings them down
when I pull the string,
in a hut that is carefully covered
with wild branches of lusty green.
Then someone may come to me
who will arouse me boldly to ample pleasure,
bending prettily as she slips
through the gap.

Refrain: Her red mouth is noble....

When I have the bait ready
and get everything together,
then you'll soon hear a sweet
bird-call and much panting.
The lovely girl may well laugh
as she steals from me all
the snaring skill I have learned.
Her trap is too much for me,
it wants to catch my little bird too often.
The hut begins to creak
from all these goings-on.

Refrain: Her red mouth is noble....

Translation by Alan Robertshaw

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“Nu huss!” sprach her Michel von Wolkenstein” - Battle Song

"Let's go!" said Michael von Wolkenstein.
"Let's chase them!" said Oswald von Wolkenstein.
"To horse!" said Sir Leonard von Wolkenstein,
"they must all flee from Greifenstein at once."

Now a shower of sparks arose from the flames
[flying] down onto the rocks, so that they got all blood-red.
Armors and crossbows and their iron helmets too,
that's what they left us - and we were happy.

Their war machines and shelters and all their tents
were burnt to ashes on the upper field.
I hear that anyone who lends evil will be repaid with evil.
That's how we will pay you back, Duke Frederick.

Skirmishes, fierce fighting - none withdrew.
That's what happened at Rafenstein upon the Ried:
quite a few were pierced by a span-long arrow-head
fired by the power of the crossbows.

Peasants of Saint George, the whole community,
had sworn us an oath, that was false.
There came the 'good fellows' from Rafenstein:
"God bless you, noble neighbours, your loyalty is void!"

Hurling and fighting, a fierce battle started,
nobody felt sorry: "Get cracking and speed up!
On the move, good courtier, win or lose!"
There were many roofs scorched and some mice, too.

The men from Bozen, from the Ritten and from Meran,
from Hafling and Mölten, approached over the mountains;
those from the Sarn-Valley and Jenesien, all these 'heroes',
wanted to encircle us, but we escaped!

Translation by Sieglinde Hartmann

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Bibliographische Nachweise zu den Übersetzungen von Albrecht Classen

Eine GESAMTÜBERSETZUNG bietet / For other translations please consult:
The Poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein. An English Translation of the Complete Works (1376/77-1445). Albrecht Classen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.

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