by Walter De la Mare (1873 - 1956)
Translation © by Bertram Kottmann

Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
Dark is the night,
The fire burns faint and low,
Hours -- days -- years,
Into grey ashes go;
I strive to read,
But sombre is the glow. 

Thumbed are the pages,
And the print is small;
Mocking the winds
That from the darkness call;
Feeble the fire that lends
Its light withal. 

O ghost, draw nearer;
Let thy shadowy hair
Blot out the pages
That we cannot share;
Be ours the one last leaf
By Fate left bare! 

Let's Finis scrawl,
And then Life's book put by;
Turn each to each
In all simplicity:
Ere the last flame is gone
To warm us by.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , title 1: "Veille", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , title 1: "Wache", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Dunkel die Nacht,
das Feuer verzehrt;
Stund, Tag und Jahr
sind in Asche verkehrt;
müh' mich, zu lesen,
hätte Helle begehrt.
Zerlesen das Buch
der Druck zu klein;
im Düster Winde
Spott und Hohn spei'n;
müde das Feuer
und fahl sein Schein.
O Geist, rück näher,
dass dein lichtloses Haar
lösch aus die Seiten,
die uns nicht mehr gewahr;
und das Schicksal uns leer
die letzte Seite bewahr.
Lasst Finis1 kritzeln,
dann das Lebensbuch beiseit'.
Wendet euch zu
in Bescheidenheit:
eh das Letzte erloschen,
das uns Wärme bereit'.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 i.S.v. Ende, Schluss.


  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2013 by Bertram Kottmann, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Bertram Kottmann.  Contact: BKottmann (AT)

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