Sunday, 27 October 2019

Fantasy Botany - The Anguished Lotus Bloom

Die Lotosblume ängstigt 
Sich vor der Sonne Pracht
Und mit gesenktem Haupte 
Erwartet sie träumend die Nacht. 

Der Mond, ist ihr Buhle 
Er weckt sie mit seinem Licht,
Und ihm entschleiert sie freundlich
Ihr frommes Blumengesicht, 

Sie blüht und glüht und leuchtet 
Und starret stumm in die Höh'; 
Sie duftet und weinet und zittert
Vor Liebe und Liebesweh. 

(The lotus bloom is stressed under the glare of the sun, and bends her head to await and dream of the night.  The moon, her secret lover, awakens her with its light, and for him, she she reveals her purity. She blooms, and gleams and shines and gazes towards the heavens. She releases her fragrance to the air and weeps and trembles with love and the pain of love.) 

The poem, by Heinrich Heine, is deceptively subtle.  The setting, by Robert Schumann is discreet, but notice the throbbing piano accompaniment, suggesting the palpitations of an anxious lover's heart.  Neither Heine nor Schumann probably saw lotuses growing in their natural habitat, where they grow en masse in ponds and lakes, reaching upwards toward the sun.  It's hot in the tropics, though the water keeps them cool.  The petals look fragile, though they're strong, like the stems and roots. Perhaps Heine and Schumann and their audiences identified the lotus with the moon, stillness, and secrecy, as Goethe did when he wrote of feelings inspired by the untouchable Charlotte von Stein.  In the last  line, passion breaks through,the voice part fills out "for love, and the pain of love"

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