Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
Arbeitsam und wacker,
Pflügen wir den Acker,
Singend, auf und ab.
Sorgsam trennen wollen
Wir die lockern Schollen,
Unsrer Saaten Grab.

Auf und abwärts ziehend
Furchen wir, stets fliehend
Das erreichte Ziel.
Wühl', o Pflugschaar, wühle;
Aussen drückt die Schwüle
Tief im Grund ists kühl.

Neigt den Blick zur Erde,
Lieb und heimlich werde
Uns ihr dunkler Schooß;
Hier ist doch kein Bleiben;
Ausgesät zerstäuben
Ist auch unser Loos. 

Säet, froh im Hoffen;
Gräber harren offen,
Fluren sind bebaut;
Deckt mit Egg' und Spaten
Die versenkten Saaten,
Und dann: Gott vertraut!

Gottes Sonne leuchtet;
Lauer Regen feuchtet
Das entkeimte Grün!
Flock', o Schnee, und strecke
Deine Silberdecke
Schirmend drüber hin!

Erndten werden wanken,
Wo [nur]1 Körner sanken;
Mutter Erd' ist treu.
Nichts wird hier vernichtet,
Und Verwesung sichtet
Nur vom Keim' die Spreu.

Die vor uns entschliefen,
Schlummern in die Tiefen
Ihrer Gruft gesät;
Länger wird es säumen,
Bis die Gräber keimen,
Gottes Saat [ersteht]2!

Wer [noch trostlos]3 [trauret]4,
Glaub' es, ewig [dauret]5
Nicht der Aussaat Zeit.
Aus enthülster Schaale
Keimt im Todesthale
Frucht der Ewigkeit!

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with J. G. von Salis Gedichte. Dritte vermehrte Auflage. Zürich, bey Orell, Gessner, Füssli & Comp. 1797, pages 96-98; with Gedichte von J. G. von Salis. Neue Auflage. Zürich, bey Orell Füßli und Compagnie. 1808, pages 113-115; and with Lyrische Anthologie. Herausgegeben von Friedrich Matthisson. Fünfzehnter Theil. Zürich 1806, bey Orell, Füssli und Compagnie, pages 59-61.

1 Schubert: "nun"
2 Schubert: "entsteht"
3 Salis (1806 and later editions): "um Todte"
4 Salis (1806 Matthisson edition): "trauert"
5 Salis (1806 Matthisson edition): "dauert"


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) , "Cançó dels llauradors", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Ploegerslied", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "Ploughing song", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le chant du laboureur", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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: 48
Word count: 176

Ploughing song
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Hard-working and honest
We plough the field,
Singing there and back.
We want to be careful as we separate
The loose clumps of soil,
The grave for our seeds.

By dragging both up and down
We make furrows, always turning our back on
The destination we have reached.
Dig, you ploughshare, dig!
Out in the open, the muggy weather weighs us down
But it is cool deep in the ground.

Turn your eyes to the earth,
It will become loving and homely
For us - the earth's dark womb;
For here there is no staying on - 
Once sown everything turns to dust - 
That is also our fate.

Sow, be cheerful in hope;
Graves are lying open in wait,
The fields have been cultivated;
Use the harrow and spade to cover
The falling seeds,
And then: trust in God!

God's sun sheds light,
Mild rains dampen
The sprouting green shoots.
Settle, snow, and stretch out
Your silver covering
As a protection over them!

Harvesters are going to be swaying
Where mere grains sank,
Mother Earth is faithful.
Nothing is going to be annihilated here
And decay's only role is to sift
The wheat from the chaff.

Those who have fallen asleep before us
Are slumbering in the depths,
Having been sown in their tomb;
It is going to take some more time
Before these graves sprout
And God's seed becomes standing corn!

For those in mourning for the dead,
Believe it, it is not going to last for ever
This time of sowing.
Out of the broken husk
There will be a sprouting in the valley of death,
Producing the fruit of eternity!


  • 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: 48
Word count: 274