Nacht und Träume/Night and Dreams is a traditional standard of the Lieder repertoire and is a song about nighttime —about sleep, peace, dreams and stillness. I have always felt, however, that this song is also about longing given the last lines of the text: rufen wenn der Tag erwacht: Kehre wieder, heil’ge Nacht! “[Men call] out when day awakens: Return, holy night! Lovely dreams, return!”
In my view, to Schubert—and this is true of most Lieder in the Romantic era—the authenticity of the self is locked inside in the internal, in exile from the public’s view. Reaffirming this interpretation, for example, in this song, the dreams that “flow like moonlight through men’s quiet hearts” can be seen as an exemplification of the Romantic focus on the person’s inner life.