Ophelia-Lieder

Song Cycle by Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)

Word count: 0

English translation: Songs of Ophelia

1. How should I your true love know

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How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon.

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Note: this is often referred to as the Walsingham Ballad, and is quoted in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5. Ophelia is singing.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem An old song ended refers to this song.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry


He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass green turf,
At his heels a stone.1

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These words are sung by Ophelia in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, but they are probably not by Shakespeare.

1 Rihm adds (using some words that are spoken in the Hamlet play): "Oho! Oho! Nay, but ... mark"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

1. Wie erkenn' ich dein Treulieb

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Wie erkenn' ich dein Treulieb
Vor den andern nun?
An den Muschelhut und Stab.
Und den Sandalschuh'n.

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

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "How will I know your true love", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Er ist lange tot und hin,
Tot und hin, Fräulein!
Ihm zu Häupten ein Rasen grün,
Ihm zu Fuß ein Stein.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. White his shroud as the mountain snow[sung text checked 1 time]

White his shroud as the mountain snow,
[Larded]1 with sweet [flowers]2;
Which bewept to the [grave did go]3
With true-love [showers]4.

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These words are sung by Ophelia in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, but they are probably not by Shakespeare.

1 Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "Larded all"
2 White: "flow'rs"
3 Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "ground did not go"
4 White: "show'rs"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Sein Leichenhemd weiß wie Schnee zu sehn[sung text checked 1 time]

Sein Leichenhemd weiß wie Schnee zu sehn,
Geziert mit Blumensegen,
Das still betränt zum Grab mußt gehn
Von Liebesregen.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Son linceul que l'on voit blanc comme la neige", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day[sung text checked 1 time]

  [To-morrow is]1 Saint Valentine's day,
  All in the morning [betime]2,
  And I a maid at your window,
  To be your Valentine.
  Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
  And dupp'd the chamber-door;
  Let in the maid, that out a maid
  Never departed more.

[ ... ]

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These words are sung by Ophelia in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, but they are probably not by Shakespeare.

1 Quilter: "Good morrow, 'tis "
2 Quilter: "time"
3 omitted by Castelnuovo-Tedesco
4 Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "He answers,/ So"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Auf morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag[sung text checked 1 time]

Auf morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag,
Wohl an der Zeit noch früh,
Und ich 'ne Maid am Fensterschlag
Will sein eur Valentin. 
Er war bereit, tät an sein Kleid,
Tät auf die Kammertür,
Ließ ein die Maid, die als 'ne Maid 
Ging nimmermehr herfür.

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

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloß[sung text checked 1 time]

   Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloß,
   [He non nonni, nonni, he nonni!]1
   Und manche Trän' fiel in  Grabes Schoß --
[Fahr wohl, meine Taube!]2

Ihr müßt singen: «'Nunter, [hinunter!]2
Und ruft ihr ihn 'nunter.»
[O wie das Rad dazu klingt!
Es ist der falsche Verwalter, 
Der seines Herrn Tochter stahl.]2

    Denn traut lieb Fränzel ist all meine Lust.

[ ... ]

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

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Brahms: "Leider, ach leider!"
2 omitted by Brahms.

Researcher for this text: Ferdinando Albeggiani

5. Und kommt er nicht mehr zurück?[sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]
Und kommt er nicht mehr zurück? Und kommt er nicht mehr zurück? Er ist Tot, o weh! In dein Todesbett geh, Er kommt ja nimmer zurück. Sein Bart war so weiß wie Schnee, Sein Haupt dem Flachse gleich: Er ist hin, er ist hin, Und kein Leid bringt Gewinn: Gott helf' ihm ins Himmelreich!

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

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Brahms: "Leider, ach leider!"
2 omitted by Brahms.

Researcher for this text: Ferdinando Albeggiani