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April 16, 2009



Yes, Keats in English and Goethe in German. They have never been surpassed. But I put my vote in for Wanderers Nachtlied as the perfect poem.


Comparing the two - Goethe's poem is not anywhere as good as Keat's poem - that is going by the English.

But I cannot read German as such so - Keat's poem depends on alliteration and the sensual sounds and great imagery...

There is a presence felt - one feels the Autumn - the fruit, the grapes or fruit "oozing" - words such as "laden" and devices so on the repetition of "hours and hours" make Keat's poem unnecessary to put into music - it is one of my favourites since we learnt it at school.

A great German poet? There are many - but one of my favourites is Georg Trakl - I can even "read" the German (with and English translation beside it) and appreciate it - his sense of sound and imagery is wonderful - the depth (and quality almost mystical of 'silence') in his work is not in many or perhaps any poets anywhere else.

This is not to say Goethe is not.
I would like to see more of Schiller's work in English - my grandson's father - who is German read he said (of Schiller) "A long poem about bell.." bow I read it in translation and that poem is great - but perhaps not for every German schoolboy!

Schubert's songs are great but he often used inferior poems...Goethe's poem (here) seems to diffuse, too vague ...



Thanks for your comment I also love Trakl, but much of his work is opaque, virtually inaccessible.

Lukas am Sa

An sich ist das ne super Story, ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob das ständig brauchbar ist!


Je veux passer à un thème propre nouvelle WordPress pour un site, mais Google a indexé 2500 pages de l'ancien site (principalement en raison d'un module de calendrier créer une nouvelle page pour chaque jour). Comment puis-je m'assurer que toutes ces pages restent accessibles pour Google, sans jeter un «Page non trouvée» lorsque quelqu'un essaie d'y accéder après l'installation du nouveau thème WordPress. Le site actuel est contenu géré et est en cours d'exécution PHP .. all the best in 2013!


Thank you. Some describe it as a poem with a broken love as the central idea. However, your interpretation appealed to me more. It would be nice if you could elaborate it even further. Thank you. Regards, Rujuta.

zahoor naqi

sooo nice poem

Dennis walder

Goethe doesn't quite reach the sublime; Rilke does, in many poems ...


Great poem




Hi!! I just wonder if this English translation of the poem is yours!!

michael burnham

The leaves on the trees are bleeding
Just like the tears in your eyes
The colors faded
Tainted they lye
In the empty cup nothing left to fill it up

written by Michael Burnham
In the late 90’s at die berg lake outside Darmstadt
Would love to c the German translation

Shreya's Poetry

Wow,wonderful poetry by both legends.If interested,check out my poetry blog too at https://shreyaspoetry.blogspot.com

Nancy Chamness, Ph.D

Translation is a tricky business, especially with poetry. What is more important: the meanings of the words, the images and metaphors, the rhyme scheme, the meter? Here is my translation. It is very different:

On the lake

And I soak up new sustenance, new blood
From the wide, free world
How gentle and good nature is
Who holds me to her breast!

The waves rock our little boat
Rising to the movement of our oars
And mountains reaching to the clouds
Meet us on our path.

WHy are my eyes looking downwards?
My golden dreams, will you ever return?
Away with you, dreams, though you are golden and perfect
Here we still have life, embodied in us.

A thousand swaying stars
Sparkle upon the waves
A gentle mist rises
Encircling the towering horizon.

Morning breezes waft by
In our secluded bay
And the lake mirrors
The fullness of the ripening fruit.

It's not perfect - it was just an experiment. If I started again, I would probably do it differently. If the lines had to rhyme, differently again. What I am left with is the sense of an upbeat: "And I soak up..." starting in the middle of a sentence and immediately we are part of the scene with the poet; the boat lifting out of the waves with each pull of the oars, the poet admonishing himself to look up, to see, to expand within as the landscape expands before him. The fact that it takes place on the water makes everything more fluid--no pun intended--and the reader is invited to join in.


Hi Nancy,

Thanks so much for sharing your translation. I feel your effort does capture the essence of the poem.

I especially love your your penultimate stanza:

"A thousand swaying stars
Sparkle upon the waves
A gentle mist rises
Encircling the towering horizon."

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