by Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)
Translation © by Bertram Kottmann

In falling timbers buried
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
In falling timbers buried
There breathed a man.
Outside the spades were plying,
The lungs within.

Could he know they sought him,
Could they know he breathed,
Horrid sand partition,
Neither could be heard.

Never slacked the diggers,
But when spades had done,
Oh reward of anguish,
It was dying then.

Many things are fruitless,
'Tis a baffling earth,
But there is no gratitude
Like the Grace of death.

About the headline (FAQ)


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) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (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: 16
Word count: 69

Verschüttet unter Trümmern
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Verschüttet unter Trümmern
keuchte ein Mensch.
Draußen plagten Spaten sich,
die Lungen, drin.

Wusst’ er von der Suche?
Und sie, dass er noch lebt?
Schutt und Trümmerberge -
keiner den andern hört.

Nimmer ruhn die Spaten,
doch als sie es geschafft -
ach, welch Lohn der Mühsal -
hat der Tod gesiegt.

Vieles ist vergebens -
schwer zu verstehn die Welt -
doch letztlich danken wir 
dem barmherz’gen  Tod.

About the headline (FAQ)


  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2016 by Bertram Kottmann, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Bertram Kottmann.  Contact: BKottmann (AT)

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Based on


This text was added to the website: 2016-11-28
Line count: 16
Word count: 69