by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer (1787 - 1836)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Am See
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
Sitz' ich im Gras am glatten See,
Beschleicht die Seele [süßes]1 Weh,
[Wie Aeolsharfen klingt]2 mich an
[Ein unnennbarer Zauberwahn]3.

Das Schilfrohr neiget seufzend sich,
Die Uferblumen grüßen mich,
Der Vogel klagt, die Lüfte wehn,
Vor [Schmerzeslust]4 möcht' ich vergehn!

Wie mir das Leben kräftig quillt
Und sich in raschen Strömen spielt.
Wie's bald in trüben Massen gährt,
Und bald zum Spiegel sich verklärt.

Bewußtseyn meiner tiefsten Kraft,
Ein Wonnemeer in mir erschafft.
Ich stürze kühn in seine Fluth
Und ringe um das höchste Gut!

O Leben bist so himmlisch schön,
In deinen Tiefen, in deinen Höhn.
Dein freundlich Licht soll ich nicht sehn,
Den finstern Pfad des Orkus gehn?

Doch bist du mir das Höchste nicht: 
Drum opfr' ich freudig dich der Pflicht.
Ein Strahlenbild schwebt mir voran,
Und mutig wag' ich's Leben dran!

Das Strahlenbild ist oft betränt,
Wenn es durch meinen Busen brennt,
Die Tränen weg vom Wangenrot,
Und dann in tausendfachen Tod.

Du warst so menschlich, warst so hold, 
O großer deutscher Leopold!
Die Menschheit [füllte]5 dich so ganz
Und reichte dir den Opferkranz.

Und hehr geschmückt sprangst du hinab,
Für Menschen in das Wellengrab.
Vor dir erbleicht, o Fürstensohn,
Thermopylae und Marathon!

Das Schilfrohr neiget seufzend sich,
Die Uferblumen grüßen mich,
Der Vogel klagt, die Lüfte wehn,
Vor Schmerzeslust möcht' ich vergehn!

View original text (without footnotes)

This is the initial version of Mayrhofer's poem, given to Schubert in manuscript form by Josef von Spaun in 1814. The poem was printed ten years later in an adapted version by Mayrhofer; see below.

Note: When this song was published for the first time, by Friedlaender in 1885, only a part of Schubert's manuscript was at hand. So Friedlaender decided to publish only the first two stanzas (with textual modifications) and add a repetition with two more stanzas, provided by Max Kalbeck. These additional stanzas can be found here.

Note: The Leopold mentioned in the text was Herzog Leopold von Braunschweig (a newphew of Frederick the Great), who was drowned on April 27, 1785, in an attempt to save citizens during a flood on the river Oder.

1 Schubert (Friedlaender edition): "banges"
2 Schubert (Friedlaender edition): "Mit Geisterarmen rührt"
3 Schubert (Friedlaender edition): "Geheimnisvoller Zauberbann"
4 Schubert (Friedlaender edition): "Schmerzenslust"
5 Schubert (Alte Gesamtausgabe): "fühlte"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Another version of this text exists in the database.

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "A la vora del llac", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Aan het meer", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "By the lake", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Près du lac", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2013-03-18
Line count: 40
Word count: 217

By the lake
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
If I sit in the grass by the smooth lake,
an anxious woe steals upon my soul,
like an aeolian harp intoning
an ineffable magic illusion.

The bulrush bows with sighs,
the flowers on the shore greet me,
the bird laments, the breezes blow,
and I would die from this joyous suffering!

How strongly life flows in me
and plays in the rushing river;
soon fermenting into gloomy masses
and soon clearing into a mirror.

Awareness of my deepest strength
creates in me a sea of bliss.
I boldly throw myself into the flood
and fight for the highest good.

O Life, you are so heavenly fair,
in your depths, at your heights!
Should I not see your friendly light
if I stray along the dark path of Orcus?

But you are not the highest for me:
I would sacrifice you gladly for Duty;
a radiant image floats before me,
and bravely I would risk my life!

The radiant image is often stained with tears
when it burns through my breast,
drying the tears from my red cheeks
and then in thousand-fold death.

You were so civilized, so kind,
O great German Leopold,
your humanity filled you
and bestowed on you a sacrificial wreath.

And majestically adorned, you leapt down
for Man into your watery grave.
Before you pale the prince's son,
Thermopylae and Marathon.

The bulrush bows with sighs,
the flowers on the shore greet me,
the bird laments, the breezes blow,
and I would die from this joyous suffering!


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive --

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2003-11-05
Line count: 40
Word count: 251