by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Sag mir, wer einst die Uhren erfund
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
  Sag mir, wer einst die Uhren erfund,
Die Zeitabteilung, Minuten und Stund'?
Das war ein frierend trauriger Mann.
Er saß in der Winternacht und sann,
Und zählte der Mäuschen heimliches Quicken
Und des Holzwurms ebenmäßiges Picken.

  Sag mir, wer einst das Küssen erfund?
Das war ein glühend glücklicher Mund;
Er küßte und dachte nichts dabei.
Es war im schönen Monat Mai,
Die Blumen sind aus der Erde gesprungen,
Die Sonne lachte, die Vögel sungen.

P. Wedding sets stanza 2?

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Heinrich Heines sämtliche Werke in vier Bänden, ed. Otto F. Lachmann, Erster Band, Leipzig: Philipp Reclam jun., [no year], page 247.


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):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 12
Word count: 75

Tell me, who invented clocks long ago
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
  Tell me, who invented clocks long ago,
The division of time, minutes and hours?
That was a chilly, sad man.
On a wintry night he sat and pondered
And tallied up the secretive squeaking of the little mice
And the evenly-spaced chomping of the termite.

  Tell me, who invented kissing long ago?
That was [a man] with a glowing, happy pair of lips;
He kissed and thought nothing of it.
It was in the beautiful month of May,
The flowers sprang up from out of the earth,
The sun laughed, the birds sang.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translated titles:
"Sag mir, wer einst die Uhren erfund" = "Tell me, who invented clocks long ago"
"Sag mir!" = "Tell me!"
"Sag mir wer einst das Küssen erfund" = "Tell me, who invented kissing long ago"


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2013 by Sharon Krebs, (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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This text was added to the website: 2013-11-18
Line count: 12
Word count: 94