"Hans Sachs' Song: Als Eva aus dem Paradies"
The song occurs in Act II of THE MASTERSINGERS when Hans interrupts Beckmesser's serenade to Eva, and Eva's attempt to elope with Walther gleichfalls. If you take out Beckmesser's frantic (and very funny) interpolations, the song can be seen to be the familiar AABA form. If you want to see the German, it's at
Search for "Jerum."
© 2005 by Deloss Brown
O ho! Tralalei! Tralalei! O he!
When Eve from Paradise was hurled,
Her sin she soon repented.
She bruised her feet in this rough world,
For shoes were not invented.
Though her fate was right and meet,
God loved Eve's little feet.
A cobbler angel God did choose,
And told him, "Go, make the child a pair of shoes.
And my son Adam, first of men,
He stubs his toe and then he stubs his toe again.
That walk he may
More in the proper way,
Measure him for boots this very day!"
Jerum! Jerum! Usw
Oh, Eve, your conscience now must bear
The cost of your enjoyment.
It's your fault men need shoes to wear,
And angels have employment!
If you'd obeyed God's will,
We'd all be barefoot still.
Now all these shoes I am forced to make,
With glue and hammer, repairing your mistake.
And since your Adam also fell,
I stitch my leather, making boots for him as well.
Were I not here,
Angelic and sincere,
Devils could make shoes for you to wear!
To work all night is sad and lonely (Des Nachts Arbeiten usw.),
And yet Hans Sachs must keep awake.
He needs fresh air,
And fresh new song;
How he sings
The whole night long!
Jerum! Jerum! Usw.
Oh, Eve, please take my song to heart,
And think of my vexations.
This world disdains my cobbler's art
And steps on my creations.
I need an angel's care
To keep me from despair.
If my work pleases her, I don't care what men despise.
Two words from her, and I soar above the skies.
And seen from there, my cobbler's life is sweet.
This world's a paradise that lies beneath my feet.
Transformed by you,
Hans Sachs becomes a shoe-
Maker, and a poet, too!
Lehman Engel criticized my translation--and justly--because the long note is on the "po" of "poet" and you don't know how the word is going to end. In the German, and therefore in Wagner, the accent is on the second syllable: "po-ETT." I have thought about it a long time, and I don't know how to fix it. If somebody asks me to translate all of THE MASTERSINGERS, I will think about it harder.
In fact what I will do--if somebody asks me to translate THE MASTERSINGERS--is steer them to the brilliant translation of the opera performed at NYC Opera in the early 70's. The critics savaged it, and it disappeared, but nobody who saw it will ever forget it. Julius Rudel conducted; I am ashamed to confess that I do not know the name of the translator or the stage director. Soit!
When I listened to the latest Bayreuth production on the radio, it made me cry hopelessly.
"How can you dismiss Wagner's antisemitism?"
I can't. It appalls me that a man of such genius could attempt to suppress the output of a another artistic genius--Mendelssohn's output--because Mendelssohn was a Jew? My God, it is both trivial and silly. Unfortunately, it's also murderous. My son is a Jew, by his mother, and thinks about it. But in Germany in Wagner's time, Jews had been assimilated--or so they thought. I hope, that if Wagner, a great musical genius, had seen what his "Heil Sachs!" would have led to, he would have recoiled in horror. But I can't be sure.
I am sure that I vomit at the thought of Nazi anti-Semitism. But I am also sure that I vomit at its non-existent philosophical underpinnings. O Christ, I wish that Hitler had never been, or that stupid Germans had never followed him!
We Americans need not feel superior. George Bush was reelected in 2004.