Nocturno - C. L. Nicolay

In stiller Nacht
Wachen die träumenden Herzen all
Aus der schweren Ruhe des Tages auf.
Mit Zaubermacht
Locket und singt ein verklungner Schall —
Und am Himmel kreiset der Sterne Lauf,
In stiller Nacht.

Der Tag ist laut und hell — er übertönt
Manch leises Lied und manche stille Frage;
Am Tage scheiden Herzen unversöhnt,
Die Räder sausen und der Hammer dröhnt,
Des Lebens heisse Schlacht gehört dem Tage.

Doch wenn die Nacht dem tiefen Thal entsteigt
Im Fliederduft, im bleichen Mondesstrahle,
Wenn sie die lang vergessnen Bilder zeigt,
Manch liebes Antlitz sich herniederneigt,
Und Frieden strömt aus ihrer Silberschale.

In stiller Nacht, da geht ein Düften schwül,
Das stillet unser Sehnen, unser Wähnen,
Der Brunnen rauscht geheimnissvoll und kühl,
Traumelfen schweben über deinem Pfühl —
Die alte Zeit heischt ihren Zoll von Thränen.

In stiller Nacht
Wachen die Todten des Herzens all,
Und lächeln und winken und sehn dich an
Und flüstern sacht
Wie langsam sterbender Wiederhall.
Das ist der uralte Zauberbann —
In stiller Nacht.

Nocturne - C. L. Nicolay

In the silent night
Awaken the dreaming hearts of all
From the heavy sleep of day.
With magic might
Enticing and singing its echoing call —
The heaven circles its star-filled way,
In the silent night.

The noise of the bright day overpowers the sound
Of many quiet questions and many sweet songs;
Hearts are divided, no consolation is found
As wheels rumble past and hammers pound,
To the day life's hot battle belongs.

Then night descends to the valley below
With its fragrant air and its pale moonlight,
Long forgotten images come to bestow,
The faces of loved ones buried long ago,
Emanating the peace of the silvery night.

In the silent night, a mystical mist takes hold
Stilling our desires and quelling our fears,
Waves of consciousness magically unfold
Bringing elven dreams from the days of old
Extracting their toll of tears.

In the silent night
Hearts, which are dead, arise
They smile and wave and whisper farewell,
Then take flight
As an echo fades and then dies.
This is the ancient magic spell
Of the silent night.


From Das Buch der Deutschen in America (1909), Page 388:

Dr. Clara L. Nicolay was born in Berlin on February 27, 1863 and received her education there. Later she spent a couple of years in England, where she taught and studied. In 1897 she came to America. For most of that time she lived in Philadelphia. She acquired her doctorate in philosophy on June 17, 1907 at the University of Pennsylvania, a few years after receiving her Master of Arts degree from the same institution. She taught ancient and modern languages at various schools. For the past three years she has been employed at Bryn Mawr College. She has produced poetry, novellas, sketches and scientific treatises.



Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks