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by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)
Translation © by Bertram Kottmann

Darest thou now O Soul
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
Darest thou now O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
   nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh,
   nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O Soul;
Nor dost thou -- all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream'd of, in that region,
   [that inaccessible land]1.

Till when the [ties loosen]2,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
   nor any bounds, [bound]3 us.

Then we burst forth -- we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul, prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last, -- 
   (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

W. Schuman sets stanzas 1-3

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Note: the indented lines have been broken off from the preceding lines so that parallel translations will be easier to see. This poem has five stanzas of three lines each.

1 W. Schuman: "the inaccessible land,/ The unknown region."
2 Bacon: "tie is loosened"
3 Bacon: "bounding"


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Léon Bazalgette (1873 - 1928) ; composed by Eugene MacDonald Bonner.
  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Léon Bazalgette (1873 - 1928) ; composed by Eva Ruth Spalding.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 128

Wagst du es nun, o Seel’
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Wagst du es nun, o Seel’,
mit mir zu gehn in Neues, Unbekanntes,
wo weder Stand ist für den Fuß,
   noch Wege sind, zu wandern?

Nichts dort führt uns und weist,
niemand dort spricht, noch hält dich eine Hand,
und keine Wange blüht, kein Mund,
   kein Blick in diesem Land.

Ach Seel’, ich weiß es nicht,
noch weißt es du - nur Leere vor uns liegt;
und Unerahntes uns erwartet -
   im unerreichbaren Land.

Wenn wir entbunden sind
von allem außer Ew’gem - Zeit und Raum,
und unsre Sinne, Dunkel, Schwerkraft
   binden uns nicht mehr,

dann geht’s hinaus - o Seel’
zu gleiten hin durch Raum und Zeit, bedacht,
gerüstet und bereit - (welch neue Lebensfreud!),
   Neues zu tun, o Seel’.

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  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2018 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) t-online.de

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Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2018-04-20
Line count: 20
Word count: 121