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An den Tod

Language: German (Deutsch)

Tod, du Schrecken der Natur!
Immer rieselt deine Uhr;
Die [geschwungne]1 Sense blinkt,
Gras und Halm und Blume sinkt.

[Mähe]2 nicht ohn' Unterschied
Dieses Blümchen, das erst blüht;
Dieses Röschen, erst [halb roth]3;
Sey barmherzig, lieber Tod!

Nimm den holden Knaben nicht,
Der voll Unschuld im Gesicht
Mit der Brust der Mutter spielt,
Und sein erstes Leben fühlt.

Und den Jüngling schone mir,
Der am fühlenden Klavier
Goldne Saiten wiegt und schwingt,
Und ein Lied von Liebe singt.

Sieh, dort steht ein deutscher Held
In [Kolumbens neuer]4 Welt,
Der des Wilden Axt nicht scheut:
Tod! [ach]5 friste seine Zeit!

Schon' den Dichter, dessen Kraft,
Wie sein Schöpfer, Welten schafft,
[Der]6 in seinem Bildungskreis
Alles fromm zu machen weiß.

Tödte nicht die junge Braut,
Schön für ihren Mann gebaut,
Die, wie Sulamit gestimmt,
Liebe giebt, und Liebe nimmt.

Nicht den Frommen in dem Land,
Dessen [hochgefaltne]7 Hand,
Betend Gottes Himmel stützt,
Wenn er Rache niederblitzt.

[Auch]8 den Sünder tödte nicht;
[Schreck]9 ihn nur mit dem Gericht,
Daß er bang zusammenfährt,
Busse weint und sich bekehrt.

In der Fürsten [goldnem]10 Saal,
Lieber Tod, bist du zur Qual;
Schone sie, bis sie vom Wind
Eitler Größ' gesättigt sind.

Keinen Reichen tödte du;
Den Gesunden laß in Ruh!
Triffst du gute [Leute]11 an,
So verlängre ihre Bahn.

Aber mußt du tödten, Tod!
Ach! so thu's, wo dir die Noth
Aus [zerfreßnen Augen]12 winkt,
Und in Staub des Kerkers sinkt.

Wo mit jedem Morgen: Tod!
Wo mit jedem Abend: Tod!
Tod! um Mitternacht erschallt,
Daß die Schauerzelle hallt.

Tod, wann kommst du? Meine Lust!
Ziehst den Dolch aus meiner Brust;
Streifst die [Fessel]13 von der Hand,
Ach! wann deckst du mich mit Sand?

Diese [Todtenstimme]14 rufft
Aus so mancher Kerkergruft,
Wo der Gram verzweiflungsvoll
Ohne Hoffnung schmachten soll.

[Drum]15, o Tod! [wenn dirs]16 gefällt,
[Hol]17 Gefangne aus der Welt;
Komm, vollende [ihre]18 Noth;
Sey barmherzig, lieber Tod!

Translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA

List of language codes

F. Schubert sets stanzas 1, 2, 14, 16

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Chr. Daniel Friedrich Schubarts Gedichte aus dem Kerker. Mit allerhöchst-gnädist Kaiserl. Privilegio. Carlsruhe, bey Christian Gottlieb Schmieder 1785, pages 195-197; with Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubarts sämtliche Gedichte. Von ihm selbst herausgegeben. Zweiter Band. Stuttgart, in der Buchdruckerei der Herzoglichen Hohen Carlsschule, 1786, pages 154-157; and with Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart's Gedichte. Herausgegeben von seinem Sohne Ludwig Schubart. Erster Theil. Frankfurt am Main 1802, bey J. C. Hermann, pages 262-265.

1 Schubart (1802 edition): "gezwungne"
2 Schubart (1802 edition): "Mäh doch"
3 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "halbroth"
4 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "Kolumbus Neuer"
5 Schubart (1802 edition): "o"
6 Schubart (1786 edition): "Und"
7 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "hochgehobne"
8 Schubart (1786 edition): "Ach,"
9 Schubart (1785 edition): "Schröck"
10 Schubart (1785 edition, misprint): "goldnen"
11 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "Laune"
12 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "zerfreßnem Auge"
13 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "Fesseln"
14 Schubart (1786 and 1802 editions): "Todesstimme"
15 Schubert: "Komm"
16 Schubart (1785 edition): "Wann dirs"; Schubert (Alte Gesamtausgabe): "wenn's dir"
17 Schubart (1802 edition): "Nimm"
18 Schubert: "meine"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] 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) , "A la mort", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Aan de dood", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "To death", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "À la mort", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Alla Morte", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2019-01-20 06:09:01

Line count: 64
Word count: 312

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     - Emily Ezust

To death

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

Death, what a horror of nature you are!
Your hour-glass is always trickling,
The scythe you swing flashes,
Grass, stalk and flower sink.

Do not indiscriminately cut down
This little flower that is just coming into bloom;
This little rose, only just half red;
Be merciful, dear death!

Do not take this beauteous lad,
Who, with innocence in his face,
Is playing with his mother's breast
And who is feeling his first stirrings of life.

And for my sake spare this youth,
Who, at the sensitive piano
Is weighing and swinging golden strings
And is singing a song of love.

Look, over there stands a German hero
In Columbus's new world,
Who does not shun the savage's axe:
Death, oh extend his time!

Spare the poet, whose strength,
Like his maker, creates worlds,
Who, in the circle of those learning from him
Knows how to make everything devout.

Do not kill the young bride,
Beautifully constructed for her husband,
Who, with a similar character to Sulamith,
Gives love and receives love.

Nor the pious in the land
Whose upstretched hands
Support God's heavens with their prayers
When he sends down his wrath with the lightning.

Do not kill the sinner either;
Just terrify him with judgement,
So that he will be shocked with fear,
Cry with repentance and change his ways.

In the golden halls of princes,
Dear death, you create distress;
Spare them until the wind
Of vain greatness is too much for them.

Do not kill any rich people;
Leave the healthy in peace!
If you come across good people
Just extend their course.

But if you do have to kill, death,
Then just do it where necessity
Sends a signal from eyes that have been eaten up
And which are sinking into the dust of the dungeon.

Somewhere with each morning: Death!
Somewhere with each evening: Death!
Death! resounds at midnight
In such a way that the frightful cell reverberates.

Death, when are you going to come? My delight!
Pull the dagger out of my breast;
Slip the fetters off my hand.
Oh, when are you going to cover me with sand?

This deathly voice calls out
From so many prison vaults,
Where grief, full of despair,
Has to languish without hope.

Therefore, oh death, if you please,
Lift prisoners out of the world;
Come, put an end to their distress;
Be merciful, dear death!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.


  • 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


Text added to the website: 2018-02-14 00:00:00.

Last modified: 2018-02-21 13:35:59

Line count: 64
Word count: 398