I saw the serpent that is eating your heart.

I bear no grudge, even though my heart may break,
eternally lost love! I bear no grudge.
However you may shine in the splendor of your diamonds,
no ray of light falls in the darkness of your heart.

I have long known this, I saw you in a dream,
and saw the night within the void of your heart,
and saw the serpent that is eating your heart-
I saw, my love, how very miserable you are.

~Heinrich Heine

I think I must have a dark side that occasionally sneaks out of the closet. I love this poem set to music by Robert Schumann.

It’s a satisfying piece to play on the piano (assuming the singer is in tune) – the notes are easy and you have to love the low octaves and crunchy chords – discordant for the 19th century at the most word-worthy moments. And trust me, it works better in German.

If I were bitter about a break-up, I’m sure I would play it ad nauseum.

The incomparable Dietrich Fischer Dieskau (1925-2012) with the also-incomparable Gerald Moore (1899-1987) on piano, at the Salzburg Festival, 1956.

English translation of the German Ich Grolle Nicht: Wikibooks

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About LaDona's Music Studio

Musician, pianist, teacher, blogger.
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6 Responses to I saw the serpent that is eating your heart.

  1. Yep, you nailed it. It certainly is dark.

  2. Aleta says:

    Such memories from this piece! It prompted a phone call to my sister who reminded me we’d learned the English version of this (complete with 19th century words and feelings) in high school choir. The piece was titled “I’ll Not Lament” and I found a version of that — not tender like I remember singing it — via Google. Thanks for the memory of a wonderful choir teacher and friends from forty-five years ago! I must make mention on Facebook where many of us are still in touch with each other!
    Yes, winter is already with us – we’ve had snow for several weeks (six inches and more) and minus 20 C this morning. Glad when the sun peeks out, too!

    • Thank you, Aleta – I’m glad you enjoyed it. With the arrival of my first bright, cheery student yesterday I was able to force a complete mood change – amazing how good they can make me feel! Now, of course, we’re back in the fog and snow (fog is why I don’t live in Vancouver – something is wrong here).
      Minus 20 and more than 6 inches – where are you?

      • Aleta says:

        We live in Northern British Columbia in Canada – Mile 300 of the Alaska Highway … it’s going to get much colder! In fact, I had to come back to check my posting, because I thought I’d written only 20 – we often say that no matter which side of zero (freezing) we are, and I was afraid people would think I was cold at 70 F !!! Have a wonderful day. Glad you had a cheerful student. I have a number who help keep life in perspective – often we teachers serve as “burden-bearers” with our students! So thankful for that opportunity, too!

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