by Friedrich von Matthisson (1761 - 1831)
Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
Kommen und Scheiden,
Suchen und Meiden,
Fürchten und Sehnen,
Zweifeln und Wähnen,
Armuth und Fülle, Verödung und Pracht
Wechseln auf Erden wie Dämmrung und Nacht!

Fruchtlos hienieden
Ringst du nach Frieden!
Täuschende Schimmer
Winken dir immer;
Doch, wie die Furchen des gleitenden Kahns,
Schwinden die Zaubergebilde des Wahns!

Auf zu der Sterne
Leuchtender Ferne
Blicke vom Staube
Muthig der Glaube:
Dort nur verknüpft ein unsterbliches Band
Wahrheit und Frieden, Verein und Bestand!

Günstige Fluthen
Tragen die Guten,
Fördern die Braven
Sicher zum Hafen,
Und, ein harmonisch verklingendes Lied,
Schließt sich das Leben dem edlen Gemüth!

Männlich zu leiden,
Kraftvoll zu meiden,
Kühn zu verachten,
Bleib' unser Trachten!
Bleib' unser Kämpfen! in eherner Brust
Uns des unsträflichen Willens bewußt!

Confirmed with Gedichte von Friedrich von Matthisson. Erster Theil. Tübingen, bei Cotta, 1811, pages 109-110; and with Taschenbuch für Damen auf das Jahr 1811. Tübingen in der J. G. Cotta'schen Buchhandlung, pages 10-11.


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) , "El cant de la vida", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Levenslied", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , "Song of life", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Chant de vie", copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Richard Morris , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 30
Word count: 118

Song of life
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Coming together and splitting up,
Searching and avoiding,
Worrying and longing,
Doubting and imagining things,
Poverty and plenty, barrenness and splendour,
They alternate on earth like twilight and night!

Down here it is pointless
For you to struggle for peace!
Will o' the wisps
Will always try to attract your attention;
But, like the furrows cut by the gliding boat,
The magical images of delusion disappear!

Up to the stars
Which light up the far distance,
We look up from the dust
With courageous faith:
Only there is an immortal connection made,
Truth and peace, union and continuity!

Propitious floods
Carry those who are good,
They support those who are worthy,
Taking them safely into harbour,
And, in the form of a harmonious, fading song,
Life comes to a close for those who are noble in spirit!

To suffer in a manly way,
To avoid whilst full of strength,
To scorn boldly,
May we continue to strive,
May we continue to battle! In an iron breast
Conscious of our blameless determination!


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2018 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: 2018-01-29
Line count: 30
Word count: 171