Thoughts on composing, teaching and performing music, by Fergus Black

Illustration from Shakespeare with lutenist

Schubert's An Silvia in English translation

You might be asking yourself why I would need to post a translation of a very famous song. Well, if you look this song up in an CD booklet or book of translations, almost all of them give the Shakespeare original. But that isn't right.

An Silvia (To Sylvia) D 891 (1826) by Schubert is not simply a translation of the Shakespeare. Lieder singers need to have a more detailed, word-for-word, translation. Here is my best effort.

An Silvia (To Sylvia) D 891 (1826) by Schubert

from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" by William Shakespeare (Translation: Eduard von Bauernfeld)

Was ist Silvia, saget an, Dass sie die weite Flur preist? Schön und zart seh' ich sie nahn, Auf Himmels Gunst und Spur weist, Dass ihr alles untertan.

What is Sylvia, tell me, that the wide meadow praises her? Fair and tender. I see her approach; [It is] a sign of heaven's favour that all are subject to her.

Ist sie schön und gut dazu? Reiz labt wie milde Kindheit; Ihrem Aug' eilt Amor zu, Dort heilt er seine Blindheit Und verweilt in süsser Ruh'.

Is she kind as well as fair? [Her] grace refreshes like gentle child-ness. To her eyes hastens Cupid, there to cure his blindness and linger in sweet peace.

Darum, Silvia, tön, o Sang, Der holden Silvia Ehren; Jeden Reiz besiegt sie lang, Den Erde kann gewähren: Kränze Ihr und Saltenklang!

Then, O song, resound to Sylvia, to beautiful Sylvia's glory; every grace has she acquired long-since that earth can bestow; crown her and sound strings!

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