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Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Geist der Liebe
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA
Wer bist du, Geist der Liebe,
Der durch das Weltall webt?
Den Schooß der Erde schwängert
Und den Atom belebt?
Der Elemente bindet,
Der Weltenkugeln ballt,
Aus Engelharfen [jubelt]1,
Und aus dem Säugling lallt?

Wer bist du, Kraft der Kräfte,
Die Greisesaugen hellt?
[Der Jünglingswangen]2 röthet,
[Und Mädchenbusen]3 schwellt?
Der Liebe beut und fodert,
Um Liebe ringt und wirbt,
Und [Messiaden]4 dichtet,
Und Brutustode stirbt?

Bist du nicht Odem Gottes,
Unsträflich, wie sein Licht,
Und stark, wie seine Rechte,
Die Welten baut und bricht?
Bist unsers Kreuzzugs Fahne,
[Entflammst]5 mit heil'ger Scham
Den Feigen und den Matten
Ein wehend Oriflam.

Nur der ist gut und edel,
Dem du den Bogen spannst.
Nur der ist groß und göttlich,
Den du zum Mann ermannst.
Sein Werk ist Pyramide,
Sein Wort ist Machtgebot.
Ein Spott ist ihm die Hölle.
Ein Hohn ist ihm der Tod.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with L.T.Kosegarten's Poesieen, Neueste Auflage, Dritter Band, Berlin 1803, pages 10-11; and with Kosegarten's Dichtungen. Fünfter Band. Lyrischer Gedichte Erstes, zweytes, drittes Buch. Greifswald, gedruckt beym königl. Director J.H. Eckhardt. 1812, pages 113-115.

1 Schubert (Neue Gesamtausgabe): "hallet"
2 later editions (since 1812): "Des Jünglings Wangen"
3 later editions (since 1812): "Des Mägdleins Busen"
4 later editions (since 1812): "Iliaden"
5 Kosegarten (Leipzig 1802 edition; misprint, changed in the errata section), and Schubert (Neue Gesamtausgabe, mistakenly): "Entflammt"


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) , "L'esperit de l'amor", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Geest van liefde", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "Spirit of love", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Esprit de l'amour", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Antonio Zencovich) , "Spirito dell'amore", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 142

Spirit of love
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Who are you, spirit of love,
Weaving your way throughout the universe,
Impregnating the womb of the earth,
And giving life to the atom?
Who are you that binds the elements,
Creating the spheres of the planets,
Rejoicing out of angels' harps 
And babbling out of the new born?

Who are you, power of powers,
That makes the eyes of the elderly clear?
That makes red the cheeks of the young
And swells the breast of girls?
Who are you who offer and demand love,
Struggle and get into a tizzy over love,
You who write poems like 'Der Messias'
And die the death of Brutus?

Are you not the breath of God,
Unimpeachable, like his light,
And strong, like his right hand,
Which builds and breaks worlds?
You are our crusade's flag,
With the sacred shame you inflame
Cowards and the weak,
A fluttering Oriflamme.

The only one that is good and noble
Is someone whose bow you draw for them.
The only one that is good and divine
Is someone made into a virile man by you.
His work is a pyramid,
His word is a powerful order,
For him hell is just a mockery.
For him death is something to be scorned.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2016 by Malcolm Wren, (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: 2016-08-30
Line count: 32
Word count: 205