by Friedrich von Schiller (1759 - 1805)
Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Laura am Klavier
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG
Wenn dein Finger durch die Saiten meistert -
Laura, itzt zur Statue entgeistert,
  Itzt entkörpert steh' ich da.
Du gebietest über Tod und Leben,
Mächtig wie von tausend Nervgeweben
  Seelen fordert Philadelphia -

Ehrerbietig leiser rauschen
Dann die Lüfte, dir zu lauschen
  Hingeschmiedet zum Gesang
  Stehn im ew'gen Wirbelgang,
Einzuziehn die Wonnefülle,
Lauschende Naturen stille,
  Zauberin! mit Tönen, wie
  Mich mit Blicken, zwingst du sie.

Seelenvolle Harmonieen wimmeln,
  Ein wollüstig Ungestüm,
Aus den Saiten, wie aus ihren Himmeln
  Neugebor'ne Seraphim;
Wie des Chaos Riesenarm entronnen,
Aufgejagt vom Schöpfungssturm die Sonnen
  Funkelnd fuhren aus der Nacht,
  Strömt der Töne Zaubermacht.

Lieblich itzt wie über glatten Kieseln
Silberhelle Fluthen rieseln, -
  Majestätisch prächtig nun
  Wie des Donners Orgelton,
Stürmend von hinnen itzt wie sich von Felsen
Rauschende schäumende Gießbäche wälzen,
  Holdes Gesäusel bald, 
    Schmeichlerisch linde, 
  Wie durch den Espenwald 
    Buhlende Winde,
Schwerer nun und melancholisch düster
Wie durch todter Wüsten Schauernachtgeflüster,
  Wo verlor'nes Heulen schweift,
  Thränenwellen der Kozytus schleift.

Mädchen sprich! Ich frage, gieb mir Kunde,
Stehst mit höhern Geistern du im Bunde?
  Ist's die Sprache, lüg mir nicht,
  Die man in Elysen spricht?

View text with footnotes

Confirmed with Gedichte von Friederich Schiller, Zweiter Theil, Zweite, verbesserte und vermehrte Auflage, Leipzig, 1805, bei Siegfried Lebrecht Crusius, pages 85-87.

First published in Anthologie auf das Jahr 1782, anonymously edited by Schiller with the fake publishing information "Gedrukt in der Buchdrukerei zu Tobolsko", actually published by Johann Benedict Metzler in Stuttgart. This poem (pages 19-21) has two more stanzas and differs in also some other ways from the final version, it was published with "Y." as the author's name.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Another version of this text exists in the database.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Laura al piano", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Laura aan de piano", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "Laura at the keyboard", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Adolphe Régnier) , "Laure au clavecin"

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

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 40
Word count: 182

Laura at the keyboard
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
When your fingers take control of the strings,
Laura, I am at the same time turned into a lifeless statue
And a spirit outside of its body as I stand there.
You command both death and life,
You are powerful, like Jacob Philadelphia
Demanding a thousand souls woven from nerves!

They are more gentle as they show homage, those rustling
Breezes, so that they can listen to you;
Welded to the song
The eternal turmoil stands still,
Breathing in the fullness of joy,
Listening nature is quiet.
Sorceress! You use notes, in the same way
That you use glances on me, to control them.

Soulful harmonies are bursting out,
A voluptuous impetuosity
Comes out of the strings, like
Newborn Seraphim coming out of their heaven;
As, having escaped the giant arms of Chaos,
Driven away by the storm of creation, the suns
Went off shining out of the night,
Similarly the magical power of the notes streams forth.

Lovingly now, as over smooth pebbles
Silver-bright waters trickle,
Now majestically splendid,
Like the tone of an organ, like thunder,
Pouring down now, as if over a cliff,
Like rushing, frothing torrents, rolling,
Suddenly a beauteous murmuring,
Flatteringly gentle,
Like seductive winds blowing through
Aspen woods,

Heavier now, and more serious and melancholy,
Like terrifying night whispering through dead wastelands
Where lost howling souls wander,
Where Cocytus drags its waves of tears.

Girl, speak! I beg you, let me know:
Are you in league with higher spirits?
Don't lie to me, is that the language
That they speak in Elysium?

View text with footnotes


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2017 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: 2017-07-16
Line count: 40
Word count: 258