"Sie müssen schlafen aber Ich muss tanzen"
Theodor Storm
Public DomainTheodor Storm - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Blood Meridian’s final chapter subheading translates from the German as ‘You must sleep, but I have to dance.' It is a revision of a line from the 19th century poem ‘Hyazinthen’ by Theodor Storm, which, in the original, reads: Ich möchte schlafen, aber du mußt tanzen. ('I would like to sleep, but you must dance').

The line is also quoted in Thomas Mann’s 1903 novella Tonio Kröger.

 

               Hyacinths

 

               Music sounds in the distance; but silent night is here,

               The flowers waft slumber-scent at me;

               I have always, always thought of you;

               I would sleep, but you must dance.

   

               It does not stop, it whirls without pause;

               The candles burn and the fiddles scream;

               The rows part and close,

                                                                                     And all are flushed, but you are pale.

 

                                                                                     And you must dance; strange arms twine

                                                                                     Around your heart; oh suffer no violence!

                                                                                     I see your white dress fly by

                                                                                     And your light, delicate form.

 

                                                                                     And the night scent wells more sweetly

                                                                                     And more dreamily from the calyx of the flowers.

                                                                                     I have always, always thought of you;

                                                                                     I would like to sleep, but you must dance.

 

                                                                                  (Translation copyright © 2008 by Elisabeth Siekhaus, used with kind permission.)