Die schöne Müllerin (Part 2)

“I heard a brooklet rumbling.”

As the miller is hiking about, he suddenly encounters a brooklet. This brings us to the next poem in the story–––”Wohin?”

Ich hört’ ein Bächlein rauschen     I heard a brooklet rumbling,
Wohl aus dem Felsenquell,           from out of a rocky spring;
Hinab zum Tale rauschen             it rushed down the valley
So frisch und wunderhell.             so fresh and bright.

Ich weiß nicht, wie mir wurde,     I didn’t know how it could be,
Nicht, wer den Rat mir gab,         who it was that gave me this directive,
Ich mußte gleich hinunter             I simply had to follow along down
Mit meinem Wanderstab.             with my hiking stick.

Hinunter und immer weiter          Downward and ever onward
Und immer dem Bache nach,      and always after the brook,
Und immer frischer rauschte       always rushing along crisply
Und immer heller der Bach.        and always bright is the brook.

Ist das denn meine Straße?          Is that then my path?
O Bächlein, sprich, wohin?         O brooklet! Say, whither?
Du hast mit deinem Rauschen    You have, with your rustling,
Mir ganz berauscht den Sinn.      totally intoxicated my mind.

Was sag ich denn von Rauschen?     What can I say about this rustling?
Das kann kein Rauschen sein:          Surely it can’t be any rustling:
Es singen wohl die Nixen                 it’s the sining of the nymphs
Dort unten ihren Reihn.                    there, underneath their river.

Laß singen, Gesell, laß rauschen     Sing on, friend, and rush along,
Und wandre fröhlich nach!             and wander joyfully along!
Es gehn ja Mühlenräder                  The wheels of the mill go
In jedem klaren Bach.                     in every clear brook.

This is, I confess, one of my favorite poems in the entire cycle. I’ve memorized it and have sung it at recitals. The lyrics are delightful and clever, and the imagery of an enchanted brooklet, with little mermaids or nymphs secretly hiding under the shallow waters, evokes a childlike wonder in nature.

This part of the narrative is also important as it introduces the miller to the brooklet, which quickly becomes its own character in the story. Indeed, the brooklet, which is anthropomorphized at the end of the story, will serve as arguably the most important character in the story. At first the brooklet is seemingly insignificant. After all, it’s just a brooklet. But, as we’ll soon see, as the story progresses it quickly becomes apparent that the miller’s suspicions are right: there is something magical about the brooklet. The brooklet is more than just an innocuous stream. It’s linked with not only the miller’s journey to the mill and the beautiful milleress, but also, ultimately, the miller’s fate.

Here is Schubert’s rendition. This is the rendition I’ve performed a number of times at various recitals. It’s one of my favorite pieces to perform.

Also, for the convenience of the reader, I will now also supply links to the previous entries in this series.

Part 1