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Des Menschen Seele

Language: German (Deutsch)

Des Menschen Seele
Gleicht dem Wasser:
Vom Himmel kommt es,
Zum Himmel steigt es,
Und wieder nieder
Zur Erde muß es,
Ewig wechselnd.

Strömt von der hohen,
Steilen Felswand
Der reine Strahl,
Dann stäubt er lieblich
In Wolkenwellen
Zum glatten Fels,
Und leicht empfangen,
Wallt [er verschleiernd]1,
Zur Tiefe nieder.

Ragen Klippen
Dem [Sturz']3 entgegen,
Schäumt er unmuthig
[Zum]4 Abgrund.

Im flachen [Bette]5
[Schleicht]6 er das Wiesenthal hin,
Und in dem glatten See
Weiden ihr Antlitz
Alle Gestirne. 

Wind ist der Welle
Lieblicher [Buhler]7;
Wind mischt [vom]8 Grund aus
Schäumende [Wogen]9.

Seele des Menschen,
Wie [gleichst]10 du dem Wasser!
Schicksal des Menschen,
Wie gleichst du dem Wind!

Translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA

List of language codes

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand. Zweyter Band. Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cotta'schen Buchhandlung. 1827, pages 58-59; and with Goethe's Schriften, Achter Band, Leipzig, bey Georg Joachim Göschen, 1789, pages 187-188.

1 Schubert (D. 538): "verschleiernd"; and "er verrauschend" in the repetition
2 Schubert (D. 484): "Leisrauschend dann"
3 Goethe (1789 edition): "Sturze"
4 Schubert (D. 484): "Zu dem"
5 Schubert (D. 538 and 714): "Beete"
6 Schubert (D. 484): "Schleichet"
7 Schubert (Alte Gesamtausgabe): "Buhle"
8 Schubert (D. 484 and 538): "von"
9 Schubert (D. 714, Alte Gesamtausgabe): "Wellen"
10 Schubert (D. 484): "gleich"

Submitted by Martin-Beatus Meier 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) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Gezang der geesten over de wateren", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Shawn Thuris) , "Song of the spirits over the waters", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Chant des esprits sur les eaux", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Canto degli spiriti sopra le acque", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2019-05-03 08:52:16

Line count: 35
Word count: 109

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     - Emily Ezust

Canto degli spiriti sopra le acque

Language: Italian (Italiano) after the German (Deutsch)

L'anima degli uomini
È simile all'acqua:
dal cielo proviene
al cielo ascende
e ancora di nuovo
ritorna alla terra
in eterna vicenda.
Sgorga dall'alto,
erto dirupo,
il puro zampillo,
si frantuma leggiadro
in nuvole cangianti
sulla liscia roccia,
e dolcemente accolto
fluttua nascosto
e con lieve sussurro
giù nel profondo.
Rocce si levano
Contro la cascata,
che spumeggia furiosa
di roccia in roccia
verso l'abisso.
Scorre in piano letto
Lentamente lungo la valle,
e sulla liscia superficie del lago
nutrono il loro riflesso
tutte le stelle.
Il vento è dell'onda 
Amante leggiadro;
e dal fondo rimescola
onde spumose.
Anima dell'uomo
come somigli all'acqua!
Destino dell'uomo
come somigli al vento!

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  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to Italian (Italiano) copyright © 2008 by Ferdinando Albeggiani, (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 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern", written 1779, first published 1789 CAT DUT ENG FRE
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Danielle Baas, Wilhelm Reinhard Berger, Michael Gees, Ferdinand von Hiller, Johann Karl Gottfried Loewe, Dietrich Manicke, Antonio Müller-Herrneck, Johannes Schild, Franz Peter Schubert, Eduard Steuermann. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2008-07-24 00:00:00.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:48

Line count: 35
Word count: 109