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Was hör' ich draußen vor dem Thor

Language: German (Deutsch)

Was hör' ich draußen vor dem Thor,
Was auf der Brücke schallen?
[Laß]1 den Gesang vor unserm Ohr
Im Saale wiederhallen!
Der König sprachs, der Page lief;
Der [Knabe]2 kam, der König rief:
Laßt mir herein den Alten!

Gegrüßet seyd mir, edle Herrn,
Gegrüßt [ihr, schöne]3 Damen!
Welch reicher Himmel! Stern bei Stern!
Wer kennet ihre Namen?
Im Saal voll Pracht und Herrlichkeit
Schließt, Augen, euch; hier ist nicht Zeit,
Sich staunend zu [ergetzen]4.

Der Sänger drückt' die Augen ein,
Und schlug in vollen Tönen;
Die Ritter schauten muthig drein,
Und in den Schoos die Schönen.
Der König, dem [das Lied gefiel]5,
Ließ, ihn zu ehren für sein Spiel,
Eine goldne Kette [holen]6.

Die goldne Kette gib mir nicht,
Die Kette gib den Rittern,
Vor deren kühnem Angesicht
Der Feinde Lanzen splittern;
Gib sie dem Kanzler, den du hast,
Und laß ihn noch die goldne Last
Zu andern Lasten tragen.

Ich singe, wie der Vogel singt,
Der in den Zweigen wohnet;
Das Lied, das aus der Kehle dringt,
Ist Lohn, der reichlich lohnet.
Doch darf ich bitten, bitt' ich eins:
Laß mir den besten Becher Weins
In purem Golde reichen.

Er setzt' ihn an, er trank ihn aus:
O Trank voll süßer Labe!
O wohl dem hochbeglückten Haus,
Wo das ist kleine Gabe!
Ergeht's euch wohl, so denkt an mich,
Und danket Gott so warm, als ich
Für diesen Trunk euch danke.


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About the headline (FAQ)

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 178-179; and with Göthe's neue Schriften. Siebenter Band. Berlin. Bei Johann Friedrich Unger. 1800, pages 39-41.

A variant of this poem is incorporated in Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, see below. The poem appears there in Book 2, Chapter 11.

1 Loewe: "Laßt"
2 Goethe (editions until 1821), and Schubert: "Page"
3 Goethe (Berlin 1800 edition), and Schubert: "ihr schönen"
4 Goethe (editions until 1810), and Schubert: "ergötzen"
5 Goethe (editions until 1821), and Schubert, Zelter: "es wohlgefiel"
6 Goethe (1827 edition, probably misprint), and Loewe, Wolf: "reichen"

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)

Set in a modified version by Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein, Robert Schumann.

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "De zanger", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "What do I hear outside the gate", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Qu'entends-je dehors devant le portail", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Il cantore", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2018-04-01 06:49:55

Line count: 42
Word count: 232

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

What do I hear outside the gate

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

 "What do I hear outside the gate -
 what are those sounds on the bridge?
 Let the song for our ears
 echo in the hall!"
 So the king said, and the page ran off.
 The page soon returned and the king cried:
 "Let in the old man!"
 "Greetings, noble lords,
 greetings fair ladies!
 What a rich heaven! Star upon star!
 Who knows their names?
 In this hall full of splendor and magnificence,
 close, you my eyes; here there is no time
 to marvel with astonishment."
 The singer closed his eyes
 and played with full tones:
 the knights watched bravely
 and the ladies gazed down into their laps.
 The king, whom the song well pleased,
 decided to reward him for his song
 and sent for a golden chain.
 "This golden chain - give it not to me;
 give this golden chain to your knights,
 before whose bold faces
 the enemy lances splinter.
 Give it to the chancellor you have,
 and let him then bear this golden burden
 with all his other burdens.
 "I sing as does the bird
 that lives in the branches;
 this song that bursts from my throat
 is a reward - its own rich reward.
 But if I may, I would ask one thing:
 give me your best wine
 in a goblet of pure gold."
 It was set before him and he drained the cup:
 "O libation full of sweet refreshment!
 O, happy is the well-favored house
 in which this is considered a small gift!
 If you enjoy yourselves well, think of me
 and thank God as warmly as I
 thank you for this drink."

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.

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

Based on
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), "Der Sänger", written 1783, first published 1795 CAT DUT FRE FRE GRE ITA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Victor Emanuel Bendix, Andreas Peter Berggreen, Zdenko Antonín Václav Fibich, Christian Wilhelm Heydenreich, Conradin Kreutzer, Adolf Fredrik Lindblad, Johann Karl Gottfried Loewe, Émile Louis Victor Mathieu, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Christian Schreiber, Franz Peter Schubert, 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: 42
Word count: 268