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by Johann Gottfried Herder (1744 - 1803)
Translation © by Malcolm Wren

Den gordischen Knoten
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE SPA
Den gordischen Knoten,
Den Liebe sich band,
Kann brechen, kann lösen
Ihn sterbliche Hand?
Was müht ihr, was sinnet
Ihr listigen Zweck?
Durch was ihr beginnet,
Find't Liebe den Weg.

Und wär' er verriegelt,
Und wär' er verkannt,
Sein Name versiegelt
Und nimmer genannt,
Mitleidige Winde,
Ihr schlüpftet zu mir
Und brächtet mir Zeitung
Und brächtet ihn mir.

Wär'st fern über Bergen,
Wär'st [weit]1 über'm Meer:
Ich wandert' durch Berge,
Ich schwämme durchs Meer;
Wärst, Liebchen, ein' Schwalbe
Und schlüpftest am Bach,
Ich, Liebchen, wär' Schwalbe
Und schlüpfte dir nach.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Brahms: "fern"


Based on:

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) , copyright © 2022, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "De weg der liefde II", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Malcolm Wren) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Chemin de l'amour", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Alfonso Sebastián) , copyright © 2021, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2003-11-10
Line count: 24
Word count: 90

The Gordian knot
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
The Gordian knot
Which love has tied,
Can it be broken, can it be untied
By mortal hands?
What are you striving for? What are you devising
With your cunning purposes?
Through what you are setting about
Love will find the way.

And if he were bolted up,
And if he were wrongly condemned,
With his name sealed off
And never uttered,
Sympathetic winds,
You would fly out to me
And bring me news
And bring him to me.

If you were far away across the mountains,
If you were far away across the sea,
I would hike through the mountains,
I would swim through the sea;
If, my love, you were a swallow
And you flew out by the stream,
I, my love, would be a swallow
And fly out to follow you.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translations of title(s):
"Weg der Liebe II" = "Love's pathway II"
"Weg der Liebe" = "Love's pathway"


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2019 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:

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2019-02-24
Line count: 24
Word count: 134