Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Nur wer die Liebe kennt, versteht das...
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT ENG FRE
Nur wer die Liebe kennt, versteht das Sehnen,
An dem Geliebten ewig fest zu hangen,
Und Lebensmuth aus seinem Aug' zu trinken;
Er kennt das schmerzlich selige Verlangen,
Dahin zu schmelzen in ein Meer von Thränen,
Und aufgelöst in Liebe zu versinken! -
Wie mir die Bilder winken,
Die alten! - Ach, sie nahen, um zu fliehen! -
Was hilft das Thal mit seinen grünen Gluthen,
Die Strahlen, die so golden niederfluthen,
Ich seh' nur Geister mich zum Abgrund ziehen! -
Wozu soll ich die goldnen Blüthen pflücken,
Kann ich doch nimmer das Geliebte schmücken.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Die Harfe. Herausgegeben von Friedrich Kind. Zweites Bändchen. Leipzig bei Georg Joachim Göschen 1815, page 362. Beneath the poem: "Am 9. August 1806."


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

  • by Franz Peter Schubert (1797 - 1828), "Nur wer die Liebe kennt, versteht das Sehnen", D 513A (1817?), published 1974 [ voice, piano ], incomplete sketch, breaks off after line 6; edited by Reinhard van Hoorickx [sung text checked 1 time]

Another version of this text exists in the database.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Impromptu", copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , subtitle: "Written in the ruins of Tharandt", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2019, (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: 2017-08-10
Line count: 13
Word count: 95

Only someone who knows love can...
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Only someone who knows love can understand the longing
To hang on firmly to the beloved for eternity,
And to drink courage for life from his eyes;
He knows the painful, blessed craving
To melt into a sea of tears,
And to sink and dissolve into love! - 
How those images signal to me,
Those old ones! - Oh, they approach only to fly off! - 
What help is the valley with its green glow,
The beams which flow down in such a golden way,
All I see is spirits pulling me down to the abyss! - 
What is the point of me plucking those golden blossoms
If I can never adorn my beloved with them.

Subtitle: "Written in the ruins of Tharandt"

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of words under the poem: On the 9th August 1806

Translation of title "Impromptu" = "Impromptu"


  • 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: 2018-01-30
Line count: 13
Word count: 116