By a Lonely Forest Pathway

Charles Griffes set Nikolaus Lenau’s poem "Auf geheimem Waldespfade" as the second of Five German Poems for medium voice and piano. The gentle music belies a darker text, in which the descending evening reminds a lover of his absent love.

Date: 1909Composer: Charles GriffesText: Nikolaus Lenau

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    Toward the turn of the 20th century, composers became more ambitious, turning their creative energies to the more serious art song. This trend sparked many American composers to study in Europe, where they imbibed German Lieder as well as French mélodies–song forms that emphasized the fusion of poetry and music. Charles Griffes was among these European-trained composers, writing skillfully crafted songs, sometimes called “American Lieder,” that integrated European aesthetic values into works with uniquely American qualities.

    Griffes set the poem in the original German, but it has been translated several times. One version is given below.


    Auf geheimem Waldespfade
    by Nikolaus Lenau

    Auf geheimem Waldespfade
    Schleich’ ich gern im Abendschein
    An das öde Schilfgestade,
    Mädchen, und gedenke dein!

    Wenn sich dann der Busch verdüstert,
    Rauscht das Rohr geheimnisvoll,
    Und es klaget und es flüstert,
    Daß ich weinen, weinen soll.

    Und ich mein’, ich höre wehen
    Leise deiner Stimme Klang,
    Und im Weiher untergehen
    Deinen lieblichen Gesang.

    By a Lonely Forest Pathway
    translation by Henry Chapman

    By a lonely forest pathway
    I am fain at eve to flee
    To the dreary rushy beaches,
    Dearest, there to dream of thee!

    And I watch the woods grow darker,
    Hear the reeds’ mysterious sighs,
    Hear them whisp’ring and complaining,
    Till my tears, my tears arise.

    And I fancy ‘tis the accents
    Of thy voice that round me play,
    Till the music of thy singing
    On the water dies away.

    Related Information

    Sheet Music

    Songs by 22 Americans

    Composer(s): Samuel Barber
    Leonard Bernstein
    Paul Bowles
    John Alden Carpenter
    Celius Dougherty
    John Duke
    Charles Tomlinson Griffes
    Richard Hageman
    Charles Naginski
    William Roy
    Gladys Rich
    Virgil Thomson
    Elinor Remick Warren

    Voice Type: High

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