I found this Goethe poem in Milan Kundera’s book Immortality – thus the title of the song. Goethe entitled the original poem Wandrers Nachtlied. No two lines have the same number of syllables. The text is concise, yet it brims with evocative onamotopoetic language. Many German children memorize it in school. Kundera, as a child, assumed the poem referred to falling asleep. Writing Immortality in his 60s, Kundera muses that it’s probably about death. Either way, Goethe’s Wandrers Nachtlied is stunning in its gentle simplicity.
Before writing it, I researched other settings. Fanny Mendelssohn, Schubert and Liszt all wrote lovely versions. Undeterred, I wrote one too!
Here is a short sample of the engraving:
Listen to the recording below!