Schläft ein Lied / Sleeping Choir

Schläft ein Lied von tausend Zungen

Schläft ein Lied von tausend Zungen
im geweihten Marmorrund;
und der Stein hebt an zu schwingen,
wenn die Orgel perlt und summt,
und der Stein hebt an zu klingen,
wenn die Orgel schwillt und braust –
Wird das Herz vom Ruf durchdrungen
und der Leib in Glanz getaucht.

Christina Egan © 2017


Sleeping Choir

Sleeping in the marble round
choir of a thousand tongues;
and the stone vibrates and hums,
when the organ wakes to sound,
and the stone pulsates and sings,
when the organ swells and roars –
In your heart the message soars,
steeped in splendour are your limbs.

Christina Egan © 2018


This poem is developed from a key verse of German Romanticism. Joseph von Eichendorff (popular to this day and one of my favourite poets) imagines the world dreaming and a song slumbering within; you need to find the magical word to awaken them.

Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen,
Die da träumen fort und fort,
Und die Welt hebt an zu singen,
Triffst du nur das Zauberwort.

Joseph von Eichendorff

The lines were also inspired by a Pentecost service at Notre Dame de France at Leicester Square in London: when the organ plays at a high volume, its circular walls — not really marble, but snow-white — seem to vibrate and sing around the visitor.

The German version of this poem will be published in the calendar Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019 (available from mid-August).

Photograph: Catholic church Stella Maris, Binz on the Isle of Rügen, Germany. Christina Egan © 2016.

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