by Christian Morgenstern (1871 - 1914)
Translation © by John H. Campbell

Vöglein Schwermut
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Ein schwarzes Vöglein fliegt über die Welt,
das singt so todestraurig...
[Wer es hört, der hört nichts anderes mehr,]1
wer es hört, der tut sich ein Leides an,
der mag keine Sonne mehr schauen.

Allmitternacht ruht es [sich]2 aus
auf [dem Finger]3 des Tods.
Der streichelt's leis und spricht ihm zu:
"Flieg, mein [Vögelein!]4 flieg, mein [Vögelein!]3"
Und wieder [fliegt's]5 flötend über die Welt.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Petersen.
2 omitted by Wolff
3 Zemlinsky: "den Fingern"
4 Zemlinsky: "Vögelchen!"
5 Wolff: "fliegt's Vögelein"


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 (John H. Campbell) , "Melancholy bird", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Mélancolie du petit oiseau", 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: 10
Word count: 64

Melancholy bird
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
A black-bird flies across the world,
singing so sorrowfully of death . . .
Whoever hears it, hears nothing else,
whoever hears it, hears such sadness,
they fear the sun may shine no more.

All thru' the night it rests
on the finger of death.
He caresses the bird solemnly and urges it:
Fly, my little bird! Fly, little bird!
And again it flies soaring over the world.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by John H. Campbell, (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: 10
Word count: 68