Translation © by John Glenn Paton

Möcht wissen, was sie schlagen
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG ENG FRE
Möcht wissen, was sie schlagen
So schön bei der Nacht,
's ist in der Welt ja doch niemand,
Der mit ihnen wacht.

Und die Wolken, die reisen,
Und das Land ist so blaß,
Und die Nacht [wandert]1 leise
Durch den Wald übers Gras.

Nacht, Wolken, wohin sie gehen,
Ich weiß es recht gut,
Liegt ein Grund hinter den Höhen,
Wo meine Liebste jetzt ruht.

Zieht der Einsiedel sein Glöcklein,
Sie höret es nicht,
Es fallen ihre Löcklein
Übers ganze Gesicht.

Und daß sie niemand [erschrecket]2,
Der liebe Gott hat sie hier
Ganz mit Mondschein bedecket,
Da träumt sie von mir.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 some versions of Eichendorff (and Franz and Pfitzner): "wandelt"
2 Herzogenberg: "wecket"


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):

  • ENG English (Jakob Kellner) , "I would like to know what they sing", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (John Glenn Paton) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Les rossignols", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Jakob Kellner

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 100

I’d like to know what they are singing
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
I’d like to know what they are singing
so beautifully at night;
indeed there is no one on earth
who is keeping watch with them.

And the clouds drift by,
and the land is colorless,
and night travels softly
through the forest, over the grass.

The night, the clouds – I know exactly
where they are going;
there’s a valley behind the hills
where my beloved is resting right now.

When the hermit sounds his little bell,
she does not hear it;
the little locks of her hair fall
over her whole face.

And so that no one will frighten her
our loving God has covered her
completely with moonlight;
there she is dreaming about me.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "Die Nachtigallen" = "The nightingales"


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2018 by John Glenn Paton, (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: 2018-10-19
Line count: 20
Word count: 116