by Gottfried Keller (1819 - 1890)
Translation © by Martin Stock

Ha! Was ist das?
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Ha! was ist das? Die Sehnen zucken wieder,
Wie Frühlingsbronn quillt neu erweckt das Blut!
Es dehnen sich die aufgetauten Glieder,
Und in der Brust schwillt junger Lebensmut!

Nun ist's geschehn, nun bricht herein der Jammer!
Die Späne knirschen unter dem Genick,
Ich messe tastend meine Totenkammer
Und messe aus mein grausiges Geschick!

Halt ein, o Wahnsinn! Denn noch bin ich Meister
Und bleib es bis zum letzten Odemzug!
So scharet euch, ihr armen Lebensgeister,
Treu um das Banner, das ich ehrlich trug!

So öffnet euch, krampfhaft geballte Fäuste,
Und faltet euch ergeben auf der Brust!
Wenn zehnfach mir die Qual das Herz umkreiste,
Fest will ich bleiben, meiner selbst bewußt!

Von Erdenduldern ein verlorner Posten,
Will ich hier streiten an der Hölle Tor;
Den herbsten Kelch des Leidens will ich kosten.
Halt mir das Glas, o Seelentrost Humor!


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Martin Stock) , title 1: "Ha! What is that?", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Ah ! qu'est-ce ?", 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: 20
Word count: 139

Ha! What is that?
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Ha! What is that? My tendons twitch again,
Like vernal springs awakened blood wells up again!
My limbs, once frozen, stretch and deep within
my chest fresh optimism builds!

Now it has happened, grief befalls me!
The sawdust rustles under my neck,
With probing hands I measure out my tomb
And measure out my gruesome fate!

Do stop, oh madness! I'm still the one who orders
And will remain so till I stop to breathe!
You poor spirits of life, come and stand in loyalty
Around the banner that I carried honestly.

Open, you tightly clenched fists,
Fingers, intertwine humbly over my chest!
Even if agony shrouded my heart tenfold
I will remain firm and conscious of myself!

This  post, deserted by tormented humans,
will I defend next to the gate to hell;
I will drink from the bitterest goblet of sorrow,
Hold my glass, humour, my comforter!


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2004 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: 2004-04-10
Line count: 20
Word count: 148