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Wenn ich der Kaiser wäre

Language: German (Deutsch)

   Wenn ich der Kaiser wäre,
Nichts nützte mir die Ehre;
Für dich, du Zauberinn,
Stieg ich von meinem Throne
Und legte meine Krone
Zu deinen Füssen hin.
   Lebt ich in jenen Zeiten,
Wo ritterlich zu streiten
Des Mannes Ehre war;
Dich führt ich im Panniere,
Bey jeglichem Turniere
Stellt' ich zum Streit mich dar.
   Dürft' ich, wie Wolf [sic]1, den Weisen
Den grossen Satz beweisen,
Dies sey die beste Welt;
Dich wollt ich ihnen zeigen,
Und alle würden schweigen
Und räumen mir das Feld.
   Könnt' ich den Preiss [sic] im Singen,
Wie Orpheus, mir erringen,
Ich sänge nur von Dir.
Kein Goldstaub, kein Gepränge,
Kein Kaiserthum erränge
Ein andres Lied von mir.
   Nun bin ich nicht der Kaiser,
Kein Ritter und kein Weiser,
Auch Orpheus bin ich nicht!
Ich armer Junge habe
Jetzt leider keine Gabe,
Die deinem Werth entspricht.
   Doch alles was ich habe,
Das bring' ich dir zur Gabe;
Mein ganzes Ich ist dein;
Gern bin ich nicht der Kaiser,
Kein Ritter und kein Weiser,
Willst du mein Mädchen seyn.

Translation(s): ENG FRE

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 This is a reference to Christian Wolff (1679-1754).

Submitted by 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):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , title 1: "If I were the emperor", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , title 1: "Si j'étais l'empereur", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website: 2016-06-28.
Last modified: 2016-06-28 11:01:21
Line count: 36
Word count: 173

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If I were the emperor

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

   If I were the emperor,
The honour would be of no use to me;
For you, you enchantress,
I would descend from my throne
And lay my crown
At your feet.
   If I lived in those times
When it was a man's honour
To fight gallantly,
I would carry your banner,
I would appear for battle
In every tournament.
   If, like Wolf [sic], I were permitted
To demonstrate to the wise the great axiom
That this is the best of all worlds;
I would show you to them
And all would fall silent
And give way before me.
   Could I, like Orpheus, carry off
The prize for singing,
I would sing only of you.
No gold dust, no splendour,
No empire could win from me
A different song.
   Now I am not the emperor,
No knight and no wise man;
Orpheus, too, I am not!
I, a poor lad, unfortunately
Now have no gift
That would match your worth.
   But everything that I have
I bring to you as a gift;
My entire self is yours;
I would gladly not be the emperor,
No knight and no wise man,
If you were but my girl.

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  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2016 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: 2016-06-28.
Last modified: 2016-06-28 11:01:43
Line count: 36
Word count: 196