Hallo, leute! I woke up ridiculously late this morning so I’m finally getting around to writing this post!
I had quite a bit of trouble with coming up with the song that I wanted to translate and analyze but I finally decided that a song that I haven’t yet done that would be a lot of fun to do would be Emily’s part in “Tears to Shed” / “Eine Träne vor Schmerz” [A Tear of Pain] from THE CORPSE BRIDE!
“If I touch a burning candle I can feel no pain If you cut me with a knife it’s still the same And I know her heart is beating And I know that I am dead Yet the pain here that I feel Try and tell me it’s not real For it seems that I still have a tear to shed.”
So, for those of you tuning in who haven’t watched THE CORPSE BRIDE, I think that first, it’s important to explain that Emily’s a corpse. That’s not a spoiler because well… the title of the movie as well as the cover. But… I digress. Here, Emily shows the contrast between the pains that she is unable to feel (namely physical pain) and the pain that she feels, namely the more emotional pains that she feels due to Victor’s rejection. But not only does she show that contrast, but she briefly addresses the difference between her and Victoria (namely Victor’s other love interest) which lies in the fact that Victoria is alive and well… Emily’s not.
“Ich spür keinen Schmerz wenn ich die Hand zum Feuer führ, oder wenn des Messers Schneide mich berührt. Und ich weiß ihr Herz kann schlagen und ich weiß tot ist mein Herz. Doch der Kummer und die Pein sagen mir es kann nicht sein wenn ich leise eine Träne wein’ vor Schmerz.” [I do not feel pain When I bring my hand to the fire, Or when the knife’s edge touches me. And I know her heart can beat and I know my heart is dead. But grief and pain tell me: it can not be. Because I quietly cry a tear of pain.]
I think that it’s interesting here that in the German version, Emily talks about her heart being dead opposed to just her being dead. Another thing that I think is notable is that in the German version, it’s not just the notion that she’s able to cry (or rather that she still has “a tear to shed”) but rather that she’s also crying from pain, an example of the emotional pain that she is able to feel although she is unable to feel physical pain that would come with being burnt or cut.
“If I touch a burning candle I can feel no pain In the ice or in the sun it’s all the same Yet I feel my heart is aching Though it doesn’t beat it’s breaking And the pain here that I feel Try and tell me it’s not real I know that I am dead Yet it seems that I still have some tears to shed.”
I think that here, Emily is addressing the audience in a way—or just anyone who will tell her that it’s ridiculous that she’s feeling pain. After all, she’s dead, right? She shouldn’t be able to feel pain! But she does. She knows that she’s dead. But she still has some tears to cry over this emotional pain and rejection. Also, in saying “though it doesn’t beat, it’s breaking”, Emily also separates out the power of physical things vs emotional matters.
“Ich spür keinen Schmerz wenn ich die Hand zum Feuer führ. heiß und kalt tun mir nicht weh weil ich nichts spür. Und mein Herz kann nicht mehr sprechen, und nicht schlagen aber brechen Und der Kummer und die Pein sagen mir es kann nicht sein. Wie tot ist denn mein Herz wenn ich leise eine Träne wein vor Schmerz.” [I feel no pain when I hold my hand to the fire. Hot and cold do not hurt me because I don’t feel anything. And my heart can no longer speak, no longer does it beat, but it breaks And grief and pain tell me: it can not be. How dead can my heart be when I quietly cry a tear of pain?]
So, for years and years after hearing this German version originally, I misunderstood the line “Wie tot ist denn mein Herz…?” [How dead can my heart be?], not because I didn’t understand its meaning but rather due to the fact that I misunderstood the point of the question. Throughout the song, I feel like a key point is really showing the pain that Emily feels as well as proving that she feels it. For a long time, the line didn’t quite make sense to me because I thought that Emily was asking herself the question as if saying “Man, how dead is my heart?” And, of course, that doesn’t make sense. But now, as I analyze, I realize that she’s asking a question of the audience and of the people who might question her pain. She’s saying “How can you say my heart is dead even as I’m crying of pain?” However, I do think that in the German version, Emily’s also asking this question of herself as earlier, she says “I know my heart is dead” in the words “Ich weiß tot ist mein herz.” But now, she’s realizing that perhaps her heart is not quite as dead as she thought before.
Anyways, I hope that was interesting! If you have any more song suggestions, please do let me know! I’m planning on writing a lot of posts today and tomorrow so that I don’t have to worry about writing them over a break that I have, so if you have any suggestions, that would be really helpful! Danke schön und tschüss!