Third in a series of songs that Schubert wrote based on Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake".
This song occurs in Canto Three of the Scott poem. The minor character of Norman sings this song to his new bride Mary as a farewell. Norman, a member of Clan Alpine, has been chosen as one of the relay riders to carry the "fiery cross" which is used to summon the clans in the hills to the upcoming battle. It's unfortunate that Norman and Mary are being parted on their wedding day and the chances are that Norman may not return from the battle.
Schubert appears to already have Norman on his horse. Note the galloping accompaniment in the piano.
The heath this night must be my bed,
The bracken curtain for my head,
My lullaby the warder's tread,
Far, far from love and thee, Mary;
To-morrow eve, more stilly laid,
My couch may be my bloody plaid,
My vesper song, thy wail, sweet maid!
It will not waken me, Mary!
I may not, dare not, fancy now
The grief that clouds thy lovely brow.
I dare not think upon thy vow;
And all it promised me, Mary.
No fond regret must Norman know;
When bursts Clan-Alpine on the foe,
His heart must be like bended bow,
His foot like arrow free, Mary.
A time will come with feeling fraught,
For, if I fall in battle fought,
Thy hapless lover's dying thought,
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary.
And if return'd from conquer'd foes,
How blithely will the evening close,
How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!
Sir Walter Scott
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Gerald Moore (piano)