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by Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Einst vor tausend Jahren
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Unruhvoll und reiselüstern
Aus zerstücktem Traum erwacht
Hör ich seine Weise flüstern
Meinen Bambus in der Nacht.

Statt zu ruhen, statt zu liegen
Reißt michs aus den alten Gleisen,
Weg zu stürzen, weg zu fliegen,
Ins Unendliche zu reisen.

Einst vor tausend Jahren gab es
Eine Heimat, einen Garten,
Wo im Beet des Vogelgrabes
Aus dem Schnee die Krokus starrten.

Vogelschwingen möcht ich breiten
Aus dem Bann, der mich umgrenzt,
Dort hinüber, zu den Zeiten,
Deren Gold mir heut noch glänzt.

Confirmed with Hermann Hesse, Sämtliche Werke, herausgegeben von Volker Michels, Band 10 Die Gedichte, bearbeitet von Peter Huber, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002, page 397. This is the second version of the poem (zweite Fassung). The first version can be found here.


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

Set in a modified version by Bernhard Rövenstrunck.

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

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , "Once a thousand years ago", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2009-05-28
Line count: 16
Word count: 81

Once a thousand years ago
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Full of unrest and eager for a journey,
Awakened from a fragmented dream,
I hear it whispering its lay --
My bamboo in the night.

Instead of resting, instead of lying down,
Out of the old paths I feel wrested,
To rush away, to fly away,
To travel into the infinite.

Once a thousand years ago
There was a homeland, a garden,
Where in the flowerbed of the bird’s grave
The crocuses peered out of the snow.

I would like to spread birds’ wings
To escape from the spell that surrounds me,
[To fly] over yonder, to the times
Whose gold still shines for me today.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2018 by Sharon Krebs, (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: 2018-05-03
Line count: 16
Word count: 105