Translation © by David K. Smythe

Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär'
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE IRI ITA POR
  Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär',
Und auch zwey [Flüglein]1 hätt',
Flög' ich zu dir;
[Weil es]2 aber nicht kann seyn,
Bleib' ich allhier.

  Bin ich gleich weit von dir,
[Bin ich doch]3 im Schlaf bey dir,
Und red' mit dir:
Wenn ich erwachen thu',
Bin ich allein.

  [Es vergeht keine Stund']4 in der Nacht,
Da [mein Herze nicht erwacht,
Und an]5 dich gedenkt,
Daß du mir [viel tausendmal]6 
Dein Herz geschenkt.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Stimmen der Völker in Liedern. Gesammelt, geordnet, zum Theilübersezt durch Johann Gottfried von Herder, Tübingen, in der J. G. Cotta'schen Buchhandlung, 1807, page 482.

Modern spelling would change "zwey" to "zwei", "seyn" to "sein", "bey" to "bei", "thu" to "tu", etc.

Note: the first stanza is quoted by Treitschke in a text set by Beethoven, Ruf vom Berge, WoO. 147

1 Greith: "Flügel"; further changes may exist not shown above.
2 Brahms, Hiller, Schumann: "Weil's"
3 Hiller: "Bin doch"
4 Hiller: "Kein Stunde"; Brahms, Schumann: "Es vergeht kein' Stund' "
5 Hiller: "nicht mein Herz erwacht,/ An"
6 Hiller: "tausendmal, viel tausendmal"


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):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Als ik een vogel was", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (David K. Smythe) , "If I were a little bird", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Si j'étais un petit oiseau", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Giulio Cesare Barozzi) , "Foss'io un uccellino", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • POR Portuguese (Português) (Margarida Moreno) , "Se eu fosse um passarinho", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Auditorium du Louvre , Lau Kanen [Guest Editor]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2019-03-19 12:36:48
Line count: 15
Word count: 72

If I were a little bird
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 If I were a little bird
 and also had two little wings
 I would fly to you.
 But because that cannot be,
 I remain just here.
 Equally if I am far from you,
 yet I am with you in sleep
 and talk to you.
 When I become awake,
 I am alone.
 There is no hour of the night goes by
 that my heart does not wake
 and is thinking of you,
 that many thousandfold
 you gave your heart to me.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by David K. Smythe, (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


Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:55
Line count: 15
Word count: 81