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The LiederNet Archive
WARNING. Not all the material on this website is in the public domain.
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Der Fischer

Language: German (Deutsch)

Das Wasser rauscht', das Wasser schwoll,
Ein Fischer saß daran,
Sah nach dem Angel ruhevoll,
Kühl bis ans Herz hinan.
Und wie er sitzt und wie er lauscht,
Theilt sich die Fluth empor;
Aus dem bewegten Wasser rauscht
Ein feuchtes Weib hervor.

[Sie sang zu ihm, sie sprach zu ihm]1:
Was lockst du meine Brut
Mit Menschenwitz und Menschenlist
Hinauf in [Todesgluth]2?
Ach wüßtest du, wie's Fischlein ist
So wohlig auf dem Grund,
Du [stiegst]3 herunter wie du bist
Und würdest erst gesund.

Labt sich die liebe Sonne nicht,
Der Mond sich nicht im Meer?
Kehrt wellenathmend ihr Gesicht
Nicht doppelt schöner her?
Lockt dich der tiefe Himmel nicht,
Das [feuchtverklärte]4 Blau?
Lockt dich dein eigen Angesicht
Nicht her in [ew'gen]5 Thau?

Das Wasser rauscht', das Wasser schwoll,
Netzt' ihm den nackten Fuß;
Sein Herz wuchs ihm so [sehnsuchtsvoll]6
Wie bei der Liebsten Gruß.
Sie sprach zu ihm, sie sang zu ihm;
Da war's um ihn geschehn:
Halb zog sie ihn, halb sank er hin,
Und ward nicht mehr gesehn.


List of language codes

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke, Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand, Erster Band, Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cottaschen Buchhandlung, 1827, pages 185-186; and with Johann Gottfried Herder's Volkslieder. Nebst untermischten andern Stücken. Zweyter Theil. Leipzig, in der Weygandschen Buchhandlung, 1779, pages 3-4.

First published in Volks- und andere Lieder, mit Begleitung des Forte piano, In Musik gesetzt von Siegmund Freyherrn von Seckendorff. Weimar, bey Karl Ludolf Hoffmann. 1779, pages 4-5.

Note: The title in Herder's "Volkslieder" is "Das Lied vom Fischer".

1 First editions (Seckendorff, Herder): "Sie sang zu ihm und sprach zu ihm"; Vesque von Püttlingen: "Sie sprach zu ihm, sie sang zu ihm"
2 First editions (Seckendorff, Herder): "Todes Glut"
3 First editions (Seckendorff, Herder): "kämst"
4 First editions (Seckendorff, Herder): "feucht verklärte"
5 Seckendorff: "ewgem"
6 First editions (Seckendorff, Herder): "sehnensvoll"

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)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El pescador", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "De visser", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "The fisherman", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Le pêcheur", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , "Ο ψαράς", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Il pescatore", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • TUR Turkish (Türkçe) (Gül Sabar) , "Balıkçı", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2017-07-09 13:56:50
Line count: 32
Word count: 170

Gentle Reminder
This website began in 1995 as a personal project, and I have been working on it full-time without a salary since 2008. Our research has never had any government or institutional funding, so if you found the information here useful, please consider making a donation. Your gift is greatly appreciated.
     - Emily Ezust

The fisherman

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

The water roared, the water swelled;
a fisherman sat beside,
gazing calmly at his fishing line,
cool to his very heart.
And as he sits there and as he listens,
the waves split
and from the turbulent water
a watery woman bursts up.

She sang to him, and spoke to him:
"Why do you lure my children
with your human wit and cunning,
up here to this deadly glow?
Ah, if you only knew how pleasant the tiny fish
find it below the surface,
you would come down, just as you are,
and you would be well for the first time.

Does not the dear sun refresh itself
and the moon as well, in the sea?
Do they not turn their faces, breathing the waves
and thus becoming doubly fair?
Aren't you tempted by the deep sky,
the moist and transfiguring blue?
Aren't you tempted by your own face
shining in the eternal dew?"

The water roared, the water swelled,
and moistened his naked foot;
and his heart filled with the longing
that he felt at the greeting of his beloved.
She spoke to him, and sang to him;
then all was done for him;
half pulled by her and half sinking himself,
he went down and was never seen again.

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 © by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive --

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.

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    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), "Der Fischer", written 1778?, first published 1779 CAT DUT FRE FRE GRE ITA TUR
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Ludwig Berger, Heinrich Karl Breidenstein, Michael Brough, August Leopold Crelle, A. Crüger, Friedrich Curschmann, Alphons Diepenbrock, Anton Franz Joseph Eberl, Karl Anton Florian Eckert, Robert Emmerich, Arnold Gassmann, Moritz Hauptmann, Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, Camillo Horn, Joh. Chr. Jusdorf, Heinrich Kafka, Friedrich August Kanne, M. J. Kremer, Johann Friedrich Bonneval de La Trobe, Huub de Lange, Johann Karl Gottfried Loewe, Carl Ludwig Amand Mangold, Friedrich Methfessel, Carl Moltke, Béla Nemes Hegyi, Sigismund von Neukomm, Friedrich Niggli, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Karl Gottlieb Reissiger, Joseph Rheinberger, Andreas Jakob Romberg, Cláudio Franco de Sá Santoro, G. Scheller, Louis Schlottmann, Christian Schreiber, Franz Peter Schubert, Robert Schumann, Karl Sigmund Freiherr von Seckendorff, Richard Georg Strauss, Václav Jan Křtitel Tomášek, Friedrich Hieronymus Truhn, Johann Vesque von Püttlingen, Hugo Wolf, Karl Friedrich Zelter. Go to the text.


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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:30
Line count: 32
Word count: 211