by Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)
Translation © by Bertram Kottmann

When I bring to you colour'd toys, my...
Language: English  after the Bangla (Bengali) 
Available translation(s): GER
When I [bring to you colour'd]1 toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colours 
On clouds, on water, and why flow'rs are painted in tints:
When I give colour'd toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance,
[I truly know why there is]2 music in leaves,
And why waves send their chorus of voices
To the heart of the listening earth:
When I sing to make you dance.3

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands,
I know why there is honey in the cup of the flower
And why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice:
When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, 
I surely understand what pleasure streams 
from the sky in morning light, and what delight 
that is that is which the summer breeze 
brings to my body - when I kiss you to make you smile.

M. Trotta sets stanzas 2, 3, 1

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View original text (without footnotes)
Note: in Gitanjali, the poem has no title; but in The Crescent Moon, its title is "When and why"
1 Carpenter: "bring you coloured"
2 Trotta: "I know why there's"
3 Trotta adds "We are free", and in the last repeat, "We are one."


Based on

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:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Jan Pieter Hendrik van Gilse.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (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: 18
Word count: 163

Wenn Buntes ich zum Spiel dir bring,...
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Wenn Buntes ich zum Spiel dir bring, mein Kind,
verstehe ich, warum am Himmel, auf dem Wasser derlei Farben spielen, 
und auch der Blumen Farbenpracht erschließt sich mir,  -
wenn Buntes ich zum Spiel dir bring’, mein Kind.

Und wenn ich sing’, auf dass du tanzt,
dann weiß ich wirklich, warum Blätter singen,
und warum Wellen ihrer Stimmen Chor
in Herz und Ohr der Erde strahlen -
wenn ich sing’, auf dass du tanzt.

Und bring ich Süßes dir, mein liebes Kind,
dann weiß ich, warum Honig sich im Kelch der Blüte findet,
und warum in aller Stille Früchte sich mit Süße füllen -
wenn Süßes  ich dir bring’, mein liebes Kind.

Und wenn ich dein Gesicht liebkose und du lächelst mir,
begreif’ ich wohl, welch Freud’ im Morgenlicht 
vom Himmel strömt, und welche Wonne mir 
ein Sommerlüftchen bringt -
wenn dein Gesicht ich küsse und du lächelst mir.

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  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2014 by Bertram Kottmann, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Bertram Kottmann.  Contact: BKottmann (AT)

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Based onBased on


This text was added to the website: 2014-07-02
Line count: 18
Word count: 149