… this line from the poem »Evening Song« from 1778, by the poet Matthias Claudius (1740–1815), belongs to the best-known poems in German literature, not least of all because it was set to music many times; hence, it does not only remain in one’s memory because of its lyrics, but also because of its melody. Especially as a lullaby, everyone has surely heard it before or even sang it to the children:
The moon has been arising,
the stars in golden guising
adorn the heavens bright.
The woods stand still in shadows,
and from the meads and meadows
lift whitish mists into the night.
There are many settings to music and interpretations of the evening song, among others by Franz Schubert or Carl Orff, but also by Herbert Grönemeyer. Here a performance by the »Wilhelmshavener Vocal Ensemble« (in German):
The third verse describes that the reverse side of the Moon remains hidden because of its synchronous rotation:
Behold the moon – and wonder
why half of her stands yonder,
yet she is round and fair.
We follow empty visions
and artisans’ ambitions
because our minds are unaware.
It is the simplicity of the words and its archaic strength that reminds us of the plain things in life and of something like humility and compassion. So the Moon fits quite perfectly into this scenario.
© 2006 by Bertram Kottmann and Walter A. Aue