by Paul Heyse (1830 - 1914)
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Ach, im Maien war's, im Maien
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the Spanish (Español) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE ITA
Ach, im Maien war's, im Maien,
wo die warmen Lüfte wehen,
wo verliebte Leute pflegen
ihren Liebchen nachzugehn.

Ich allein, ich armer Trauriger,
lieg' im Kerker so verschmachtet,
und ich seh' nicht, wann es taget,
und ich weiß nicht, wann es nachtet.

Nur an einem Vöglein merkt' ich's,
das da drauß im Maien sang;
das hat mir ein Schütz getödtet
geb' ihm Gott den schlimmsten Dank!

About the headline (FAQ)


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)

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

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Era di maggio", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2004-01-20
Line count: 12
Word count: 66

Ah, it was in May, in May
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Ah, it was in May, in May,
when the warm breezes blow,
where those in love desire
to go to their loves.

I alone, I poor and pathetic,
lie in prison so faint,
and I don’t see day dawning,
and I don’t know when night falls.

Only by [the call of] a little bird would I know the difference,
that sang outside [each] May;
[but] it was killed by a shot
God give it thanks!

About the headline (FAQ)

Translator's note for line 3-4: literally, "God give him the worst possible thanks," an ironic opposite to the typical "Gott sei dank," or "Thank God."


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard, (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: 2016-02-08
Line count: 12
Word count: 75