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The LiederNet Archive
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Stirbt der Fuchs, so gilt der Balg

Language: German (Deutsch)

Nach Mittage saßen wir
Junges Volk im Kühlen;
Amor kam, und, stirbt der Fuchs
Wollt' er mit uns spielen.

Jeder meiner Freunde saß
Froh bei seinem Herzchen;
Amor blies die Fackel aus,
Sprach: hier ist das Kerzchen!

Und die Fackel, wie sie glomm,
Ließ man eilig wandern,
Jeder drückte sie geschwind
In die Hand des Andern.

Und mir reichte Dorilis
Sie mit Spott und Scherze;
Kaum berührt mein Finger sie,
Hell entflammt die Kerze,

Sengt mir Augen und Gesicht,
Setzt die Brust in Flammen;
Über meinem Haupte schlug
Faßt die Glut zusammen.

Löschen wollt' ich, patschte zu;
Doch es brennt beständig;
Statt zu sterben ward der Fuchs
Recht bei mir lebendig.

Translation(s): ENG FRE

List of language codes

Note provided by Iain Sneddon: From the Deutsches Wörterbuch by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: “He who lives long, is old” is a parlour game in which is a glowing torch is passed in turn from hand to hand, each time the recipient says those words. The person holding the taper when it glows must pay a forfeit. Goethe’s title “If the fox dies, the pelt is still of use” is the phrase spoken to delay the passing on of the torch.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Iain Sneddon [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):

  • ENG English (Iain Sneddon) , "Forfeits", copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Si le renard meurt, sa peau vaut cher", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2019-04-03 21:45:43
Line count: 24
Word count: 111

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Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

In the afternoon we sat 
Young people in the shade; 
Cupid came, wanting to play  
"The fox dies" with us.  

Every one of my friends sat 
Next to his beloved; 
Cupid blew out the torch, 
Said: "here is the taper!"

And the torch as it smouldered, 
Was quickly passed around, 
Everyone pressed it quickly 
Into the hand of the next. 

And Dorillis handed it to me 
With derision and jokes; 
Hardly had I touched her, 
Than the torch burst into flame,

It singed my eyes and face, 
Set my breast aflame; 
Over my head the blaze 
Merged to engulf me.  

Vainly I wanted to put it out; 
But the fire resisted; 
Instead of dying, the fox 
Was quite alive to me.

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 © 2019 by Iain Sneddon, (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.


    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), "Stirbt der Fuchs, so gilt der Balg" FRE
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Václav Jan Křtitel Tomášek, Wendelin Weißheimer, Karl Friedrich Zelter. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2019-04-02.
Last modified: 2019-04-02 12:35:22
Line count: 24
Word count: 121