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Auf eine Unbekannte

Language: German (Deutsch)

Die Dämmerung war längst hereingebrochen,
Ich hatt dich nie gesehn, du tratst heran,
Da hat dein Mund manch mildes Wort gesprochen
In heil'gem Ernst, der dir mein Herz gewann.
Still, wie du nahtest, hast du dich erhoben
Und sanft uns allen gute Nacht gesagt,
Dein Bild war tief von Finsternis umwoben,
Nach deinem Namen hab ich nicht gefragt.

Nun wird mein Auge nimmer dich erkennen,
Wenn du auch einst vorübergehst an mir,
Und hör' ich dich von fremder Lippe nennen,
So sagt dein Name selbst mir nidns von dir.
Und dennoth wirst du ewig in mir leben,
Gleich wie ein Ton lebt in der stillen Luft,
Und kann ich Form dir und Gestalt nicht geben,
So reißt auch keine Form dich in die Gruft.

Das Leben hat geheimnisvolle Stunden,
Da tut selbstherrschend die Natur sich kund;
Da bluten wir und fühlen keine Wunden,
Da freu'n wir uns und freu'n uns ohne Grund.
Vielleicht wird dann zu flüchtigstem Vereine
Verwandtes dem Verwandten nah gerückt,
Vielleicht, ich schaudre, jauchze oder weine,
Ist's dein Empfinden, welches mich durchzückt.

Translation(s): ENG FRE

List of language codes

Submitted by John H. Campbell


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (John H. Campbell) , title 1: "To an unknown", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Sur une inconnue", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:32

Line count: 24
Word count: 175

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To an unknown

Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

The twilight had long passed,
I could not see you, you walked along,
Then, you had spoken some soft words
In endearing seriousness, that won my heart.
Quietly, we drew near, you rose
And softly we said good night,
Your visage was mask'd by the enveloping darkness,
I did not ask for your name.

Now, my eyes will never recognize you,
If you once pass me by,
And if I hear other lips say your name,
So, that name will tell me nothing of you.
And yet you will live eternally in me,
As a sound lives in the quiet air,
And as I cannot give shape and form to you,
So, also no tears can place you in the tomb.

Life has mysterious hours,
When, nature itself knows my fate;
Then we bleed but feel no wounds,
We are happy then and pleased with no reason.
Perhaps then these too-fleeting associations
of familiar things will grow more familiar;
If I tremble, rejoice or weep,
It is memory of you, which helps me endure.

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 John H. Campbell, (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


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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:32

Line count: 24
Word count: 174