Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Die Gedanken sind Frei

Die Gedanken sind Frei - a song at the soul of the German Romantic movement.The gentlemen above are intellectuals, aristocrats and artists, the gentlemen of the Lützowsches Freikorps who did their own thing, despite the repression around them.  Weber's  Der Freischütz can also be read as an extension of these ideas.  The song, first published in 1820, was almost certainly much older, the words quoted in medieval poetry.  The ideas were so well known that they worked their way into folk culture. In Clemens and von Brentano's  1805 collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn, the words appear in Lied des Verfolgten im Turm, which was set nearly a century later by Mahler.  A man is a prisoner in a dungeon from which he cannot escape. But "Gedanken sind Frei" and can never be suppressed.  If anything, the message is even more potent today, when forces of oppression have new channels in modern mass technology with which to spread wilful ignorance and domination. We live in a surveillance society : we aren't free. .  Lützow fought Napolean  The illustrations in the clip below show the uprisings of 1848, another watershed in German history. Now we have ISIS and other forms of terrorism to deal with. But as long as there are a few quiet voices who understand this simple song maybe there is hope. Pete Seeger sings a wonderful English translation, see below :

"Die Gedanken sind Frei, my thoughts freely flower
Die Gedanken sind Frei, my thoughts give me power,
No scholar can map them, no hunter can trap them,  
No man can deny, Die Gedanken sind Frei
I think as I please and this gives me pleasure, 
My conscience decrees, this right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater, to Duke or Dictator,
No man can deny : Die Gedanken sind Frei"

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