Selected Songs

Previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams





Ich liebe dich (Herrosee)


I love you as you love me; we have always shared our sorrows and made them easier to bear; we have always comforted each other. So God's blessing upon you, delight of my life; God protect and and keep us both.


Adelaide (Matthisson)


Your friend walks alone in the garden, among the blossoms, in the magical light of springtime, Adelaide.  In the ocean waves, in the mountain snows, in the golden clouds of sunset and among the stars, there shines your image, Adelaide. Evening breezes and nightingales sing your name, Adelaide. One day, a flower shall bloom on my grave, growing from my heart, with each petal brightly inscribed Adelaide.





Schilflied (Lenau)

Song of the Reeds


The moonlight weaves its pale roses among the green reeds of the still pool. Roedeer listen on the hill; birds stir among the reeds. Thoughts of you pass through my soul like hushed evening prayers.





Der Hidalgo (Geibel) 

The Don Juan


It's sweet to jest with songs and hearts, with life and death. At moonrise I roam the streets ready for romance or for swordplay; how sweet to jest  with songs and hearts. . The ladies of Seville look down the river; they listen out for my serenading and throw me roses from their balconies. Together with my mandoline I carry a Toledo blade; a song for the ladies, a sword for my rivals. Then away to adventure; the sun has set. Twilight and moonlight will bring duets or duels; I shall return tomorrow bearing either flowers or wounds. 


Der Soldat (Andersen)

The Soldier


We march to the sound of muffled drums; how long the road. If only he were at rest; my heart will break. Best in the world I loved him who is being put to death today; we're on full parade, with band, and I'm one of the firing-squad. Now comes his last look at the sun, and now the blindfold. May you rest in peace. The nine riflemen trembled with pity and pain; eight bullets missed; mine struck him square in the heart.


Muttertraum (Andersen)

A Mother's Dream


The mother prays, and looks with joy at her little boy asleep in his cot; to her he seems like an angel. She kisses him and forgets all her troubles. Her wishes and hopes hover in the future; this is how all mothers dream in their hearts. But outside the window the ravens croak a different refrain: 'your angel shall be our prey; we shall be pecking at him as he hangs for theft on the gallows'.





An den Schlaf (Mörike)

To Sleep


Sweet sleep, despite your resemblance to death I welcome you; how lovely it is to live thus without life, and how easy to die while still so far away from dying.


Lebe wohl (Mörike)



You do not feel the pain in the word 'farewell'; you spoke it light-heartedly. I have said it to myself a thousand times, and broken my heart saying it.



Three Michelangelo Songs


1. Wohl denk ich oft


I often think of my life before I loved you, when I was unknown and unfulfilled. I aimed to dedicate myself to art, and flee from mankind. Today my name is famous, whether in praise or blame; everyone knows that I am here.


2. Alles endet, was entstehet


Everything that begins must also end; everything under the sun must pass away. Everything; thought, speech, pain, joy. Our grandchildren too have vanished like shadows in sunlight or mists in the wind. We were once flesh and blood, sad and happy, just like you, and now we are lifeless clay, as you see. Everything that begins must end; everything under the sun must pass away.


3. Fühlt meine Seele


What is this feeling in my soul? is it the longed-for light of God, or some other beauty, from this vale of tears? It wakens old memories. Is it a sound, or a vision in a dream, that makes me weep so? I cannot tell.

How shall I attain it? It is not within me; it is an external grace and blessing, and it has possessed me ever since I first saw you. I am tormented by yes and no, by sweet and bitter; and for this, my beloved lady, your eyes are to blame.





Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder (Rückert)


Don't look at my songs; that makes me lower my gaze as if caught in a crime. I don't even dare to watch them myself, as they grow. Bees in the hive build their cells in secret; when the rich honeycomb is brought into daylight, then you shall be the first to taste it, the very first.


Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert)


I am lost to the world, where I once wasted much time. The world has heard nothing from me for ages; it may believe I'm dead. If so, never mind. In a sense I have indeed died to the world and its turmoil; and I am at rest in a region of silence where I live alone in my own heaven with my love and with my song.


Der Tamboursgsell (From Des Knaben Wunderhorn)

The Drummer


They're taking me from prison to my death. The look of the high gallows frightens me; I know I must hang. When other soldiers marching by ask who I was, tell them: Drummer, No. 1 Company. Good night, mountains and hills, officers and men, musketeers and grenadiers. Hear my cry of farewell; I'm going on long leave.


Wenn dein Mütterlein (Rückert)


When your mother comes in with the candle, she does not see me at first; she looks down to where she would have seen your bright happy face, my dear daughter. When your mother comes in with the candle, it always seems that you still come in too, just as you used to,  my sweet gleam of joy all too soon snuffed out.





Ach, weh mir unglückhaftem Mann


Oh, I'm an unhappy man, with no money or assets. Otherwise I'd harness four white horses and drive round to your door. They'd have bells on, so you'd hear us coming, and I'd bring a big bunch of roses. I'd crack my whip and you'd look out and ask what I wanted, with my horses and carriage and bouquet? 'You!' I'd shout; and out you'd come, on the spot. I'd tell your father and mother to kiss you goodbye, because we're in a hurry, my horses and I. Unfortunately, however, I'm an unhappy man, with no money or assets.




Schilflied (Lenau)

Song of the Reeds


At evening I steal through the forest down to the lonely shore,  and think of you. Then the reeds rustle in the dark, telling me to weep; and I seem to hear your voice within the breeze and your sweet song under the dark waters.





Zehn Gulden

Ten Florins


I once had ten florins and wondered what to do with them. I thought of my debts, and my sweetheart, and also of studying, and the need for books. My sweetheart had been pestering me for ages about a new hat. What's a poor chap to do? They sell good wine at the local inn, so I sat there and thought things over. In the local, even the stupidest people become wise, and by midnight I was a Solomon. I got up and paid the bill, which came to ten florins. So now I don't have ten florins any more.