by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
Translation © by Knut W. Barde

Und fast ein Mädchen wars und ging...
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Und fast ein Mädchen wars und ging hervor
aus diesem einigen Glück von Sang und Leier
und glänzte klar durch ihre Frühlingsschleier
und machte sich ein Bett in meinem Ohr.

Und schlief in mir. Und alles war ihr Schlaf.
Die Bäume, die ich je bewundert, diese 
fühlbare Ferne, die gefühlte Wiese
und jedes Staunen, das mich selbst betraf.

Sie schlief die Welt. Singender Gott, wie hast 
du sie vollendet, daß sie nicht begehrte 
erst wach zu sein? Sieh, sie erstand und schlief. 

Wo ist ihr Tod? O, wirst du dies Motiv 
erfinden noch, eh sich dein Lied verzehrte? --
Wo sinkt sie hin aus mir? ... Ein Mädchen fast...

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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 (Knut W. Barde) , "Sonnet to Orpheus", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 108

Sonnet to Orpheus
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
And almost a girl it was who arose
from this united joy of song and lyre
and shone clearly through her veils of Spring
and made her bed in my ear.

and slept in me. And everything was her sleep.
The trees I ever marveled at,
this palpable distance, the sensed meadow
and every wonder about myself.

She slept the world.  Singing God, how were you 
able to perfect her, without her 
first desiring to be awake? Look, she came into being and slept.  

Where is her death? Oh, will you still invent this motive,
before your song would consume itself?
As she slips away from me, where will I find her?  A girl almost...


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by Knut W. Barde, (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 between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 115