Ungewisses Licht, Op. 141, No. 2 (Robert Schumann)

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  • (Posted 2020-02-19)  CPDL #57114:         
Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2020-02-19).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 104 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: In English translation.
  • (Posted 2004-09-06)  CPDL #07795:      (Sibelius 2)
Editor: Stuart McIntosh (submitted 2004-09-06).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 144 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Ungewisses Licht, Op. 141, No. 2
Composer: Robert Schumann
Lyricist: Joseph Christian von Zedlitz

Number of voices: 8vv   Voicing: SATB.SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Languages: German, English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1880 in Novello's Part-Song Book (2nd series), Vol. 13, no. 382
Description: #2 of 4 pieces, entire opus also available as complete download.

External websites:

Original text and translations

German.png German text

Ungewisses Licht
Bahnlos und pfadlos, Felsen hinan
stürmet der Mensch, ein Wandersmann.
Stürzende Bäche, wogender Fluß,
brausender Wald, nichts hemmet den Fuß!

Dunkel im Kampfe über ihn hin,
jagend im Heere die Wolken zieh'n;
rollender Donner, strömender Guß,
sternlose Nacht, nichts hemmet den Fuß!

Endlich, ha! endlich schimmert's von fern!
Ist es ein Irrlicht, ist es ein Stern?
Ha! wie der Schimmer so freundlich blinkt,
wie er mich locket, wie er mir winkt!

Rascher durcheilet der Wandrer die Nacht,
hinnach dem Lichte zieht's ihn mit Macht!
Sprecht, wie: sind's Flammen, ist's Morgenrot,
ist es die Liebe, ist es der Tod?

English.png English translation

Uncertain light
Without a path, without a trail,
the man, the wanderer storms up the cliffs:
Plunging streams, a roaring river,
Booming woods, nothing breaks his stride!

Warring in darkness above,
Clouds pursue him in armies;
Rolling thunder, streaming torrents,
a starless night, nothing breaks his stride!

At last, ha! At last it glitters in the distance!
Is it a phantom, is it a star?
Ha, its sparkle is so friendly,
How it entices me, how it beckons to me!

Faster now the wanderer hurries through the night,
Drawn by the power of the light.
Tell: is it a flame, is it the sunrise?
Is it love, is it death?

English.png English translation

Uncertain light
Guideless and pathless, up rocky steeps,
Man to his goal still onward keeps:
Wild rushing torrents, seas raging hoarse,
Dense roaring woods, nought hinders his course.

Darkness and strife prevail in the sky,
Clouds, like to armies, are massed on high;
Loud rolling thunder, rain's gushing force,
Black starless night, nought hinders his course.

Lastly, ah, lastly, shines from afar,
Is it the wildfire, is it a star?
See how the light seems to call me home,
How it invites me, bids me to come.

Onward the wayfarer hastes through the night,
Light ever seeking, onward with might!
Flame is it, glowing, or morn's fiery breath?
Is it a love-light, can it be death?

Translation by John Troutbeck