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Language: German (Deutsch)

Ich war erst [sechszehn]1 Sommer alt,
  Unschuldig und nichts weiter,
Und kannte nichts als unsern Wald,
  Als Blumen, Gras und Kräuter.

Da kam ein fremder Jüngling her;
  Ich hatt' ihn nicht verschrieben,
Und wußte nicht [wo hin noch her]2;
  Der kam und sprach von Lieben.

Er hatte schönes langes Haar
  Um seinen Nacken wehen;
[Und]3 einen Nacken, als [das]4 war,
  Hab ich noch nie gesehen.

Sein Auge, himmelblau und klar!
  Schien freundlich was zu flehen;
So blau und freundlich, als das war,
  Hab ich noch kein's gesehen.

Und sein Gesicht, [wie]5 Milch und Blut!
  Ich hab's nie so gesehen;
Auch, was er sagte, war sehr gut,
  Nur konnt' ichs nicht verstehen.

Er gieng mir allenthalben nach,
  Und drückte mir die Hände,
Und sagte immer O und Ach,
  Und küßte sie behende.

Ich sah' ihn einmahl freundlich an,
  Und fragte, was er meynte;
Da fiel der junge schöne Mann
  Mir um den Hals, und weinte.

Das hatte Niemand noch gethan;
  Doch war's mir nicht zuwieder,
Und meine beyden Augen sahn
  In [meinen]6 Busen nieder.

Ich sagt' ihm nicht ein [einzig]7 Wort,
  Als ob ichs übel nähme,
Kein einzigs, und - er flohe fort;
  Wenn er doch wieder käme!

Translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE

List of language codes

J. Kraus sets stanzas 1-2, 4-5, 7-9

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with ASMUS omnia sua SECUM portans, oder Sämmtliche Werke des Wandsbecker Bothen, I. und II. Theil. Beym Verfasser, und in Commißion bey Fr. Perthes in Hamburg. [1774], pages 54-56; with ASMUS omnia sua SECUM portans, oder Sämmtliche Werke des Wandsbecker Bothen, Erster und zweiter Theil. Wandsbeck, 1774. Beym Verfasser, pages 34-35.

First published 1771 in a slightly different form in Göttinger Musenalmanach, see below.

See also Bürger's poem Robert, which refers to this poem.

1 Claudius (Wandsbeck 1774 edition), and Schubert: "sechzehn"
2 Schubert: "wohin, woher"
3 Zumsteeg: "So"
4 Zumsteeg: "der"
5 Schubert: "war"
6 Claudius (Carlsruhe, 1784 edition): "meinem"
7 Schubert: "einzigs"

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)

Another version of this text exists in the database.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Phidile", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Phidile", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "Phidile", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Phidile", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2019-02-26 08:57:29
Line count: 36
Word count: 197

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Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

I was just sixteen summers old,
Nothing but innocent,
And I knew nothing but our wood,
Nothing but our flowers, trees and herbs.

Then along came a young man, a stranger;
I had not summoned him,
And I did not know where he might be from;
Along he came and spoke of love.

He had beautiful long hair
Flowing around his neck;
And a neck like that 
Is something I have never seen before.

His eyes, sky blue and clear!
They appeared to be asking for something in a friendly way,
Such blue and friendly eyes as that,
I have never seen any like that.

And his face, like milk and blood!
I have never seen anything like it;
Also, what he said was very good,
Except I couldn't understand it.

He followed me everywhere,
And he pressed my hands,
And kept saying 'oh' and 'ah',
And quickly kissed them.

I gave him a single friendly glance
And asked what his intentions were;
Then the beautiful young man fell
Around my neck and started crying.

Nobody had ever done that before;
But I didn't object to it,
And both my eyes looked
Down into my bosom.

I didn't say a single word to him
That might have given him the idea I had taken it badly,
Not a single word, and he fled away;
If only he would come back!

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  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2018 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
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Matthias Claudius (1740 - 1815), "Phidile", first published 1771 CAT DUT FRE
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Joseph Martin Kraus, Othmar Schoeck, Franz Peter Schubert, Josef Antonín Štěpán, Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2018-01-07.
Last modified: 2018-01-07 19:01:26
Line count: 36
Word count: 230