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King David

Language: English

    King David was a sorrowful man:
        No cause for his sorrow had he;
And he called for the music of a hundred harps,
       To ease his melancholy.

    They played till they all fell silent:
        Played and play sweet did they;
But the sorrow that haunted the heart of King David
        They could not charm away.

    He rose; and in his garden
        Walked by the moon alone,
A nightingale hidden in a cypress tree,
        Jargoned on and on.

    King David lifted his sad eyes
        Into the dark-boughed tree --
"Tell me, thou little bird that singest,
        Who taught my grief to thee?"

    But the bird in no-wise heeded;
        And the king in the cool of the moon
Hearkened to the nightingale's sorrowfulness,
        Till all his own was gone.

Translation(s): GER

List of language codes

Confirmed with Peacock Pie. A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare, London: Constable & Co. Ltd., [1920], page 111.

Submitted by Virginia Knight and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


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):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , title 1: "König David", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:40
Line count: 20
Word count: 127

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König David

Language: German (Deutsch) after the English

    König David war ein trauriger Mann:
        Für seine Trauer hatte er keinen Grund;
Und er verlangte die Musik von hundert Harfen,
        Um seinem Schwermut zu lindern.

    Sie spielten, bis sie all schwiegen:
        Spielten, und süß spielten sie;
Aber die Trauer, die das Herz des Königs David verfolgte,
        Konnten sie nicht fortzaubern.

    Er erhob sich, und in seinem Garten
        Wandelte er im Mondlicht allein,
Eine Nachtigall, in einer Zypresse versteckt,
        Plauderte fort und fort.

    König David erhob seine traurigen Augen
        Zu dem dunkel-beästeten Baum --
"Sag mir, du kleiner Vogel der singt,
        Wer hat dich mein Leid gelehrt?"

    Aber der Vogel beachtete ihn in keinerlei Weise;
        Und der König horchte in der Kühle des Monds
Auf den Kummer der Nachtigall,
        Bis sein eigener völlig zerrann.

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  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2014 by Sharon Krebs, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


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Based on


Text added to the website: 2014-01-23.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:28
Line count: 20
Word count: 124