Franz Peter Schubert - Life and Music

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Schubert's Dream

Letters

On July 3, 1822, Schubert’s wrote a short prose entitled 'Mein Traum' (My Dream). It is a tale of exile and homecoming which opens new insights into the artist’s life and personality. His outgoing personality and lively social life sometimes masked an undercurrent of anxiety, insecurity, and loneliness. In the story, many of these feelings come to the surface as Schubert recounts a dream of being driven out of his father’s house and forced to wander in foreign lands. His manuscript survives, as does a copy which was in the possession and probably in the hand of his intimate friend, Franz Schober. Ten years after Schubert's death, his brother, Ferdinand, presented the original manuscript to Robert Schumann, who published it in the February 5, 1839, issue of his journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.

Following is the English translation of 'Mein Traum':

'I was one of many brothers and sisters. We had a good father and a good mother. And I felt a deep love for them all.

One day, my father took us to a feast, and my brothers became very merry. But I was sad...

My father then came to me and told me to taste the wonderful food. But I could not...

And at that, my father, in his anger, banished me from his sight.
I turned on my heel and with a heart filled with infinite love for those who scorned it.

I wandered away into a far country...
For years, I was torn between the greatest love and the greatest sorrow.

Then came news of my mother's death.
I hastened back to see her, and my father, softened by his grief, did not prevent my return.

I saw her lying dead and tears fell from my eyes.
We followed her, mourning to the greave, and the coffin slowly sank.

From that time on, I stayed again at home.
But one day my father took me once more into his favourite garden and asked me if it pleased me.
But I disliked it, and I did not dare to reply.

Then he asked me for a second time, and more impatiently, if I liked the garden. Trembling, I told him "No".

And at that, my father struck me,
And I ran away...

For a second time I turned away and my heart still filled with love for those who scorned it,
I wandered once more into distant lands.

Through long, long years, I sang my songs.
But when I wished to song of love, it turned to sorrow.

And when I wanted to sing of sorrow, it turned into love.
And so I was divided into love and sorrow.

But then a pious girl, who had just died, appeared before me,
and a circle formed around her thomb in which young and old men wandered as though in perpetual bliss.

They spoke softly, so as not to wake her.
Heavenly thoughts, like bright sparks seemed to flicker unceasingly from the virgin's thomb.

And they made a soft sound as they fell on the young men.
I longed to walk there too,

But only by a miracle, so people said, could one enter into that circle. But I went forward, slowly and devoutly,
with my eyes lowered towards the gravestone.

And before I knew it, I was in that circle from which the loveliest melody sounded. I felt the whole measure of eternal bliss, compressed, as it were, into a moment's space.

I saw my father too, loving and reconciled.
He folded me in his arms and wept.

But I wept still more....'




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