Edvard Grieg, “Våren” (Spring)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted here are three versions of Edvard Grieg’s beautiful, indeed enchanting, song “Våren” (Spring), performed by a baritone, a soprano, and a mezzo-soprano.

Aasmund Olavsson Vinje (1818-1870), a famous Norwegian poet and journalist, wrote the words to the song. Grieg composed melodies for many of Vinje’s poems.

In Vinje’s poem, the speaker describes the beauty of the countryside in spring, appearing after the snow of winter; he thinks he might be seeing it for the last time.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

LYRICS

 

“Våren” (Norwegian)

 

Enno ein Gong fekk eg Vetren at sjaa for Vaaren at røma;
Heggen med Tre som der Blomar var paa eg atter saag bløma.
Enno ein Gong fekk eg Isen at sjaa fraa Landet at fljota,
Snjoen at braana, og Fossen i Aa at fyssa og brjota.

Graset det grøne eg enno ein Gong fekk skoda med blomar [eg seier hei]1
enno eg høyrde at Vaarfuglen song mot Sol og mot Sumar.
[Enno ein Gong den Velsignad eg fekk, at Gauken eg høyrde,
enno ein Gong ut paa Aakren eg gjekk, der Plogen dei kjøyrde.

Enno ein Gong fekk eg skoda meg varm paa Lufti og Engi;
Jordi at sjaa som med lengtande Barm at sukka i Sængi.
Vaarsky at leika der til og ifraa, og Skybankar krulla,
so ut av Banken tok Tora til slaa og kralla og rulla.

Saagiddren endaa meg unntest at sjaa paa Vaarbakken dansa.
Fivreld at floksa og fjuka ifraa, der Blomar seg kransa.
Alt dette Vaarliv eg atter fekk sjaa, som sidan eg miste.
Men eg er tungsam og spyrja meg maa: tru det er det siste?

Lat det so vera: Eg myket av Vænt i Livet fekk njota.
Meire eg fekk en eg havde fortent, og Alting maa trjota.]1
Eingong eg sjølv i den vaarlege Eim, som mettar mit Auga,
eingong eg der vil meg finna ein Heim og symjande lauga.

Alt det som Vaaren imøte meg bar, og Blomen eg plukkad’,
Federnes Aander eg trudde det var, som dansad’ og sukkad’.
Derfor eg fann millom Bjørkar og Bar i Vaaren ei Gaata;
derfor det Ljod i den Fløyta eg skar, meg tyktest at graata.

 

 

“Våren” (Last Spring; English)

 

Yes, once again winter’s face would I see
to Spring’s glory waning,
whitethorn outspreading its clusters so free
in beauty enchaining.

Once more behold from the earth day by day
the ice disappearing,
snow melting fast and in thunder and spray
the river, careering.

Emerald meadows, your flow’rets I’ll spy
and hail each new comer;
listen again to the lark in the sky
who warbles of summer.

Glittering sunbeams how fain would I watch
on bright hillocks glancing,
butterflies seeking from blossoms to snatch
their treasures while dancing.

Spring’s many joys once again would I taste
ere fade they forever.
But, heavy-hearted, I feel that I haste
from this world to sever.

So be it then! yet in Nature so fair
much bliss I could find me;
over and past is my plentiful share,
I leave all behind me.

Once more I’m drawn to the Spring-gladdened vale
that stilleth my longing;
there I find sunlight and rest without fail,
and raptures come thronging.

All unto which here the Spring giveth birth,
each flow’r I have riven,
seems to me now I am parting from the earth
a spirit from Heaven.

Therefore I hear all around from the ground
mysterious singing,
music from reeds that of old I made sound,
like sighs faintly ringing.

 

(I cannot account for the discrepancy in number of stanzas and lines. I downloaded the lyrics from the internet.)

 

 

*****************************************************

 

Recently I shared my thoughts about the lyrics with a friend, and tried to interpret them, as follows:

 

Spring’s many joys once again would I taste
ere fade they forever.
But, heavy-hearted, I feel that I haste
from this world to sever.

 

I WELCOME SPRING, BUT AM HEAVY HEARTED, BECAUSE I REALIZE THAT MY DAYS ARE NUMBERED.

 

So be it then! yet in Nature so fair
much bliss I could find me; …

 

THE SPEAKER ACCEPTS FATE, BUT ALSO SAYS THAT IT HAS BEEN HIS JOY TO EXPERIENCE THE BLISS OF NATURE — IN THE PAST, AND IT SEEMS THAT THE SPEAKER IS SAYING, EVEN NOW (?).

 

Once more I’m drawn to the Spring-gladdened vale
that stilleth my longing;
there I find sunlight and rest without fail,
and raptures come thronging.

 

THE POEM ENDS ON AN AFFIRMATIVE NOTE … WITH THE SPEAKER’S REALIZATION THAT THE SUNLIGHT AND RAPTURES OF SPRING ARE STILL HIS TO ENJOY (AND TAKE WITH HIM TO HEAVEN).

 

I am not sure if my interpretation(s) is correct. It is a complex poem, both happy (joyous over the arrival of spring) and sad (the old man realizes that he will not live much longer — long enough to see many more springs).

 

— Roger W. Smith

   June 2018

 

 

*****************************************************

 

Addendum:

 

In the period 1877-1880, Grieg produced a set of songs as his Op. 33 on texts by a man some called the peasant-poet of Norway, Aasmund Vinje (1818 – 1870). The composer had been greatly inspired by the then-late poet’s verses, so much so that after completing the set, he decided to arrange two of its songs for string orchestra, this one (“The Last Spring”) and “The Wounded Heart.” He made piano versions of them as well. “The Last Spring” is a sad piece, but sad in the heart-on-sleeve sense of Tchaikovsky, not in the dark, neurotic manner of Mahler.

In the song version, the text tells of a dying man who is aware he is observing his last spring. The main theme in the instrumental versions is nostalgic and features considerable expressive depth, especially considering Grieg’s penchant for lightness of mood even in melancholy works. It has an air of resignation about it, but as it struggles on, its manner sweetens a bit, nearly suggesting hope. Still, these brighter moments are only fleeting, as the music remains largely dark and anguished. The piano version is perhaps a bit bleaker, but also less lyrical than the warmer string orchestra account.

 

https://www.allmusic.com/composition/v%C3%A5ren-last-spring-elegiac-melody-for-orchestra-or-piano-no-2-op-34-2-mc0002502340

 

 

*****************************************************

 

See also my post:

 

a piano version of Edvard Grieg, “Våren” (Spring)

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/12/19/edvard-grieg-til-varen-to-spring-op-43-no-6/

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
This entry was posted in my favorite music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s