by Anonymous / Unidentified Author and possibly by Orlando Gibbons (1583 - 1625) and sometimes misattributed to Thomas Morley (1557 - 1602)
Translation © by Martin Stock

The silver swan who, living, had no note
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
The silver swan who, living, had no note,
when death approached, unlocked her silent throat.

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:

"Farewell all joys, O death come close [mine]1 eyes.
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bachlund, Baxter, Rorem: "my"


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):

  • FRE French (Français) (Dwain Richardson) , "Le cygne argenté", copyright © 2003, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Martin Stock) , "Der Silberschwan", copyright © 2001, (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: 6
Word count: 51

Der Silberschwan
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Der Silberschwan, der lebend nie gesungen,
entlockte sterbend seiner Kehle einen Laut.

Die Brust sank in das Schilf am Ufer -
So sang zum ersten Mal er und nie mehr:

Lebt wohl, ihr Freuden, Tod, oh komm und schließe meine Augen;
Mehr Gänse gibt es jetzt als Schwäne, mehr Narren auf der Welt als Weise.


  • Translation from English to German (Deutsch) copyright © 2001 by Martin Stock, (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: 6
Word count: 55