Blanka oder Das Madchen (Blanka or the Maiden) (D. 631) from December 1818 was Schubert's first setting of the poetry of Friedrich von Schlegel. He had already set poems and translations by Friedrich's brother August, completing August's translation of Petrarch's "Sonnet CXIV" in the same month as Blanka. But the difference between the two poems and the difference in the two settings could not be further apart. As with all of Schubert's setting of August's sonnets, "Sonnet III" moves through a wide range of setting types before arriving at the sweet lied of the final lines. But Blanka concentrates entirely on a single mood in a single setting for its entire duration, expressing a quintessence of sorrow on the edge of joy.
Or is it the other way around? As in so many of Schubert's tenderly loving portraits of girls whose innocence is poised on the edge of experience, Blanka is almost happy and almost sad. This emotional ambivalence penetrates every aspect of the song from its tonality -- A major or is it A minor? -- its melody -- long, lyric lines followed by short declamatory lines -- and even tempo -- a gently swaying rhythm that slides between triplets and duplets. The overall effect is warmly intimate, as if one could eavesdrop on the thoughts of a quiet girl musing on the mysteries of love.