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The LiederNet Archive

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Die Perle

Language: German (Deutsch)

Es gieng ein Mann zur Frühlingszeit
Durch Busch' und Felder weit und breit
Um Birke, Buch' und Erle;
Der Bäume Grün im Mayenlicht,
Die Blumen drunter sah er nicht;
Er suchte seine Perle.

Die Perle war seine höchstes Gut,
Er hatt' um sie des Meeres Fluth
Durchschifft, und viel gelitten;
Von ihr des Lebens Trost gehofft,
Im Busen sie bewahrt, und oft
Dem Räuber abgestritten.

Die sucht' er nun mit Weh und Ach:
Da wies man ihm den hellen Bach,
Und drinn die goldne Schmerle;
Nichts half der Bach im Sonnenglanz,
Im Bache nichts der Schmerlen Tanz;
Er suchte seine Perle.
Und suchen wird er immer so,
Wird nicht des Lebens werden froh,
Nicht mehr die Morgenstunden
Am purpurrothen Himmel sehn;
Berg auf und nieder muß er gehn,
Bis daß er sie gefunden.

Der arme Pilger! So wie er,
Geh' ich zur Frühlingszeit umher
Um Birke, Buch' und Erle;
Des Mayen Wunder seh' ich nicht;
Was aber, ach! was mir gebricht,
Ist mehr als eine Perle.

Was mir gebricht, was ich verlohr,
Was ich zum höchsten Gut erkohr,
Ist Lieb' in treuem Herzen.
Vergebens wall' ich auf und ab;
Doch find' ich einst ein kühles Grab,
Das endet alle Schmerzen.

Translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA

List of language codes

Confirmed with Auserlesene Lieder Von J. G. Jacobi; Herausgegeben von Johann Georg Schlosser. Basel, bei J. J. Thurneysen, dem Jüngern, 1784, pages 64-65; and with Gedichte von Johann Georg Jacobi. Zweyter Theil. Wien, 1816. Bey Ch. Kaulfuß & C. Armbruster (Meisterwerke deutscher Dichter und Prosaisten. Siebenzehntes Bändchen), pages 48-49.

Submitted by Richard Morris and Peter Rastl [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 or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "La perla", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "De parel", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "The pearl", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "La perle", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "La perla", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2017-08-04 04:34:51

Line count: 36
Word count: 200

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The pearl

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

In the spring-time a man went
Far and wide through bushes and fields,
Around birch, beech and alder trees;
The green of the trees in the May light,
The flowers under them - he did not notice them;
He was looking for his pearl.

The pearl was his greatest possession,
For it he had been on the high seas,
Sailing across the ocean, and he had suffered a great deal;
In it he had hoped to find consolation for life,
He protected it in his bosom, and he often
Fought robbers to keep hold of it.

He was looking for it now with a heavy heart:
Then he was directed to the bright river,
And within it the golden loach;
But the river in the sunlight was no help to him
Nor the dance of the loaches in the river;
He was looking for his pearl.

And he will keep on looking in the same way,
He will never take pleasure in what comes of life,
In the morning hours he will no longer
Notice the crimson sky;
He has to go up and down mountains
Until he has found it.

The poor pilgrim! Similarly, like him,
In the spring-time I wander about,
Around birch, beech and alder trees;
I do not notice the miracle of May;
But, oh, what I am lacking
Is more than a pearl.

What I am lacking, what I have lost,
What I selected as my greatest possession,
Is love in a faithful heart.
In vain I process up and down;
But there will come a time when I find a cool grave,
Which will put an end to all my agonies.

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  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2017 by Malcolm Wren, (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: 2017-10-05 00:00:00.

Last modified: 2017-10-05 18:19:49

Line count: 36
Word count: 277