Fern hallt Musik; doch hier ist stille Nacht, 
Mit Schlummerduft anhauchen mich die Pflanzen. 
Ich habe immer, immer dein gedacht; 
Ich möchte schlafen, aber du mußt tanzen. 

Es hört nicht auf, es rast ohn Unterlaß; 
Die Kerzen brennen und die Geigen schreien, 
Es teilen und es schließen sich die Reihen, 
Und alle glühen; aber du bist blaß. 

Und du mußt tanzen; fremde Arme schmiegen 
Sich an dein Herz; o leide nicht Gewalt! 
Ich seh dein weißes Kleid vorüberfliegen 
Und deine leichte, zärtliche Gestalt. - - 

Und süßer strömend quillt der Duft der Nacht 
Und träumerischer aus dem Kelch der Pflanzen. 
Ich habe immer, immer dein gedacht; 
Ich möchte schlafen, aber du mußt tanzen.


Interpretation mit Musik:


Fragen zum Text:
1) Identify the rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme is determined by assigning a letter of the alphabet (beginning with 'a') to each word at the end of a line that sounds different. For example, stanza one has the following rhyme-scheme: abab. The 5th line will be designated 'c'. How does it continue? 
    2) Why do you suppose stanzas 1 & 4 have the same rhyme scheme? 

    3) Metric pattern: generally iambic pentameter (see below). But line 1 begins with a spondee (2 consecutive stressed syllables). What effect does this more ponderous beginning have on the reader? 

    4a) Line 1: how does Storm establish an immediate contrast through his choice of vocabulary? 
    4b) What other contrast or oppositions do we see in this stanza? 

    5) Line 2: Schlummerduft -- this is a neologism (new word creation). What effect might Storm be striving for with this new word?

    6) Storm also uses the unusual form anhauchen (instead of separating the prefix from the verb), which seems to imply an aggressiveness on the part of the flowery perfume. It has been suggested that the poem represents a contrast or even conflict between the active and the passive life. Which do you think is represented in this stanza?

    7) Do you think this grammatical "incorrectness" adds to or detracts from the effect of the poem?

    8) Stanzas 2 & 3: Both the movement (faster) and the sounds (more reflective of a lively ball atmosphere) seem to change in these stanzas. Identify how Storm creates this impression. 

Relationships and Personal Questions:
a) The man clearly longs for the woman. Do we know what the woman wants? Consider, for example: "alle glühen, aber du bist blass" ?

b) Why are they apart? Is it by choice? ["Ich möchte schlafen"; "Du musst tanzen"]

c) What fears for the woman does the man express  (Stanza 3)?

d) Does the man seem capable of saving her from the world of stanzas 2 & 3? In stanza 4 (his world) is the notion of passivity strengthened or weakened? Note the comparative forms süßer and träumerischer.

e) In your opinion, what steps should either or both of the characters take to resolve the apparent chasm between their worlds?

f) If faced with a similar situation, would you (and if so, how would you) try to resolve the differences?

Downloadable  Worksheet