by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer (1787 - 1836)
Translation © by T. P. (Peter) Perrin

Wie Ulfru fischt
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG ENG FRE
[Der]1 Angel zuckt, die Ruthe bebt,
Doch leicht fährt sie heraus.
Ihr eigensinn'gen Nixen gebt
Dem Fischer keinen Schmaus!
Was frommet ihm sein kluger Sinn,
Die [Fischlein]2 baumeln spottend hin -
Er steht am Ufer fest gebannt,
Kann nicht in's Wasser, ihn hält das Land.

Die glatte Fläche kräuselt sich,
Vom Schuppenvolk bewegt,
Das seine Glieder wonniglich
In sichern Fluthen regt.
Forellen zappeln hin und her,
Doch bleibt des Fischers Angel leer,
Sie fühlen, was die Freyheit ist,
Fruchtlos ist Fischers alte List.

Die Erde ist gewaltig schön,
Doch sicher ist sie nicht!
Es senden Stürme Eiseshöh'n;
Der Hagel und der Frost zerbricht
Mit einem Schlage, einem Druck,
Das gold'ne Korn, der Rosen Schmuck -
Den Fischlein [unter's weiche]3 Dach,
Kein Sturm folgt ihnen vom Lande nach.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Gedichte von Johann Mayrhofer. Wien. Bey Friedrich Volke. 1824, pages 42-43.

Note provided by Peter Rastl: In Schubert's (and Mayrhofer's, and Goethe's) time there was a distinction between "die Angel" (= door-hinge) and "der Angel" (= fishing tackle). Only in current German both are feminine.

1 Schubert (Peters Edition only): "Die"
2 Schubert: "Fische"
3 Schubert: "unterm weichen"


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 or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Com l’Ulfru pesca", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Hoe Ulfru vist", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (T. P. (Peter) Perrin) , "How Ulfru fishes", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "The way that Ulfru fishes", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Comment Ulfru pêche", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Richard Morris , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 127

How Ulfru fishes
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 He shakes the hook, he jerks the lure,
 But nothing's on the line;
 The water sprites are making sure
 The fisherman won't dine.
 They love to foil his schemes and scoff
 At him as they scoot smartly off;
 Bound to the bank, the helpless clown
 Cannot pursue them or he'll drown.
 The glassy surface ripples where
 The scaly tribes below
 Perform gymnastic feats from sheer
 High spirits, to and fro.
 The fisher rues his empty creel
 While trout are jumping just to feel,
 As they let loose, what freedom is,
 Pooh-poohing Ulfru's artifice.
 The earth is wildly beautiful
 But not as safe as we suppose;
 Its evil storms with ice and hail
 Can bruise the wheat and crush the rose:
 But careless, playful and aloof,
 The little fish have a soft, smooth roof
 To shield them from the upper air -
 No storm from land can reach them there.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by T. P. (Peter) Perrin, (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.

Based on


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 150