Poesie - (2013)    

Justinus Kerner

for medium voice and piano


Poesie ist tiefes Schmerzen,
Und es kommt das echte Lied
Einzig aus dem Menschenherzen,
Das ein tiefes Leid durchglüht.

Doch die höchsten Poesien
Schweigen wie der höchste Schmerz,
Nur wie Geisterschatten ziehen
Stumm sie durchs gebrochne Herz.

2 pages, circa 3' 10"

Justinus Kerner


Poesy is deepest anguish,
Only can the sad heart sing,
Which, by sorrow pierced, doth languish;
'Tis from woe true song doth spring.

Highest Poesy mute sitteth,
Silent as Pain's fatal dart,
Like a spiritshade it flitteth,
Dumbly through the broken heart.

...a translation by composer, Sir John Stainer (1840 - 1901) for his own setting.



While rhyme may be joyous as well as sad, the sentiment of Kerner's text is apt. There are times when sadness and grief are best expressed in heightened language which trumps mere prose, and song which gives further voice to the inescapable. The displacement of tonal regions by chromatic motion has been s staple of the late nineteenth century, and much of the twelve-tone aesthetic relies on the same. Yet harmonic distance from a tonality while referring to it in a more complex manner yields its own musical structure, this of two strophes in differing yet related tonal regions.




The score for Poesie 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.