Translation © by Laura Prichard

Die Schnürbrust
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE ITA
Die Maid sie wollt 'nen Buhlen wert
und sollt sie ihn graben wohl aus der Erd!

Sie grub wohl ein, sie grub wohl aus,
einen stolzen Buhlen grub sie aus.

Der Buhle hatte Gut und Gold,
Er gab dem Mädchen manchen Sold.

Er gab ihr einen Gürtel schmal,
Der war gesponnen überall.

Der war gesponnen bis aus Blut,
Das Mädchen starb in wilder Wut.

Ach, pflanzt drei Rosen auf das Grab
Dann kömmt mein Buhle und pflückt sie ab.


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Le corset", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , title 1: "Il busto", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , title 1: "Het keurslijf", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , title 1: "The ensnared heart", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Laura Prichard [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 12
Word count: 79

The ensnared heart
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Once a Maid wished for a worthy lover
even if she’d have to dig him out of the earth!

She dug right in, she dug right out,
she dug up a proud man.

The man possessed goods and gold,
He gave to the maiden his purse.

He gave her a narrow leather belt,
That was completely handspun.

I spun itself like crazy until she was bloody,
The maiden died in a furious rage.

Ah, plant three roses over [my] grave
Then my beloved* will come by and pluck them up.

Translator's notes: The title lets us know that this poem will be full of wordplay: "schnüren” is similar to the modern binden (to bind together, to fasten, to committ oneself), but has an older connotation of “to lace something up” - in this case the Brust (breast, chest, or poetically, heart) of the maid is ensnared in a woven garment (perhaps laced up, like a corset she can’t get out of), symbolizing the relationship.

Lines 1-1, 2-2, 3-1: Buhle is more commonly a feminine word now (my beloved), but comes from the Middle High German buole (male relative, kinsman), and is also the source of the English word “bully,” which is relevant to this poem.

Line 3-2: Sold describes the income of a military conscript or someone in a related profession (wages guaranteed in advance for difficult work).

Line 5-1: spinnen can refer to spinning (a thread or web), spinning an untrue story, or colloquially, "to go crazy,” which is relevant to this poem.


  • 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.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2016-10-23
Line count: 12
Word count: 90