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by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Schwester von dem ersten Licht
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE FRL
Schwester von dem ersten Licht,
Bild der Zärtlichkeit in Trauer!
Nebel schwimmt mit Silberschauer
Um dein reizendes Gesicht;
Deines leisen Fußes Lauf
Weckt aus tagverschloßnen Höhlen
Traurig abgeschiedne Seelen,
Mich und nächt'ge Vögel auf.

Forschend übersieht dein Blick
Eine großgemeßne Weite.
Hebe mich an deine Seite!
Gib der Schwärmerei dies Glück;
Und in wollustvoller Ruh
Säh der weitverschlagne Ritter
Durch das gläserne Gegitter
Seines Mädchens Nächten zu.

Dämmrung, wo die Wollust thront,
Schwimmt um ihre runden Glieder.
Trunken sinkt mein Blick hernieder.
Was verhüllt man wohl dem Mond?
Doch was das für Wünsche sind!
Voll Begierde zu genießen,
So da droben hängen müssen;
Ei, da schieltest du dich blind.

About the headline (FAQ)

Note: the version from 1789 has a different final stanza:
Des Beschauens holdes Glück
Mildert solcher Ferne Qualen,
Und ich sammle deine Strahlen,
Und ich schärfe meinen Blick.
Hell und heller wird es schon
Um die unverhüllten Glieder,
Und nun zieht sie mich hernieder,
Wie dich einst Endymion.


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):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "À la lune", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRL Friulian (Ermes Culos) , "A la Luna", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2004-08-11
Line count: 24
Word count: 109

Sister of the first light
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Sister of the first light,
Image of tenderness in mourning!
With a silver shivering, mist floats
About your sublime visage;
The quiet course of your feet
Awakens, from out of caves locked by day,
Sad, departed souls,
Me and night-birds.
Searchingly your gaze looks out over
A wide-ranging expanse.
Lift me to your side!
Give to ecstasy this happiness;
And in rapturous rest
May the knight, driven far from home,
Through the glassy bars
Watch the nights of his maiden.
Twilight, where sensuality is enthroned,
Wafts about her round limbs.
Drunkenly my gaze sinks downward.
What is being veiled from the moon?
But what sort of wishes are these!
Full of desire to savour,
Yet required to hang on high;
Ah, one could peer down until one went blind.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of titles
"An den Mond" = "To the moon"
"An Luna" = "To Luna"
Note: the version from 1789 has a different final stanza:
The lovely joy of contemplation
Assuages the anguish of such distance,
And I gather up your effulgence,
And I sharpen my gaze.
It is already becoming bright and ever brighter
About the shrouded limbs,
And now she draws me downward,
As you were once drawn by Endymion.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2015 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.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2015-08-12
Line count: 24
Word count: 129