Songs of Love and Grief: A Bilingual Anthology in the Verse Forms of the Originals

Heinrich Heine, Author, Walter W. Arndt, Translator, Jeffrey L. Sammons, Foreword by Northwestern University Press $17 (227p) ISBN 978-0-8101-1324-4
Heine's reputation as one of Germany's greatest 19th-century poets has been overpowered by the fact that most people know his poems through song: to date, according to Jeffrey L. Sammons's introduction, over 8000 have been set to music. There are multiple ironies in having these lieder represent German folk culture: Heine (1797-1856) was born Jewish and subsequently baptized; a politically active lawyer in pre-unification Germany, he spent the last 25 years of his life exiled in Paris, where he produced work suffused with both longing and revulsion for his native land. This collection, which spans Heine's poetic career, presents the German originals and Arndt's translations on facing pages. Arndt, an emeritus professor of the humanities at Dartmouth, is unable to prevent Heine's peculiar brand of ironically charged Romanticism from sliding into sing-song English. He does, however, recognize and bring to the fore much of Heine's coded anguish: ``I seem to hear a far-off droning,/ Nightwatchmen's horn-sounds, dear and soft,/ Nightwatchmen their refrains intoning,/ And sobs of nightingales aloft.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/1995
Release date: 11/01/1995
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