Die Lampe


Die Lampe - (2013)    

Christian Morgenstern

for high voice and piano


Es steht eine Lampe am weiten Meer.
Wo kommt denn die Lampe, die Lampe her?

Sie trägt ein Reformhemd aus grünem Tang
und steht auf der Insel Fragnichtlang.

Die Lampe, die Lampe, die Lampe, weh,
sie kommt aus der Werweißwosisee!

Da liegt ein Schiff ganz unten kaputt,
und aus seinen Fenstern schaun Molch und Butt.

Die Wellen, die Wellen, die haben sie geschwemmt?
Jetzt träumt sie, den Fuß auf die Küste gestemmt,

in ihrem Reformkleid aus grünem Tang ...
Und im Hintergrund, da liegt – Fragnichtlang.

4 pages, circa 3' 00"

Christian Morgenstern


The lamp was once lost to the oceans wide.
From whence came this lamp, the lamp I spied?
It is dressed in an undershirt of seaweed greens
and is found on the island called Ask Not What It Means.
The lamp, just a lamp, that lamp, beware,
it hails from the sea known as Who Knows Where!
The shipwrecked wreck is a ruinous wrack;
Newt and flounder gaze through its windows' crack.
The waves, these waves, did they wash it ashore?
Yet now it dreams, here near the ocean's roar,
dressed in its undershirt of seaweed greens
and in the background looms Ask Not What It Means.


rhymed paraphrase by the composer

Copyright © 2013  Gary Bachlund



The octatonic scale might imply a number of tonal centers, one here stated in the deep bass notes, while the polytonal insistence of competing chords within the scale clash gently. The unsettled mood is further blurred by sostenuto and quiet dynamics. For other settings of Morgenstern's texts, click here.




The score for Die Lampe is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Die Lampe