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by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation by Edgar Alfred Bowring (1826 - 1911)

Wie kommt's, daß du so traurig bist
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG ITA
Wie kommt's, daß du so traurig bist,
Da alles froh erscheint?
Man sieht dir's an den Augen an,
Gewiß du hast geweint.

"Und hab' ich einsam auch geweint,
So ist's mein [eigner]1 Schmerz,
Und Thränen fließen gar so süß,
Erleichtern mir das Herz."

Die frohen Freunde laden dich,
O komm an unsre Brust!
Und was du auch verloren hast,
[Vertraue]2 den Verlust.

"Ihr lärmt und rauscht und ahnet nicht,
Was mich den Armen quält.
Ach nein, verloren hab' ich's nicht,
So sehr es mir auch fehlt."

So raffe dich denn eilig auf,
Du bist ein junges Blut.
In deinen Jahren hat man Kraft
Und zum Erwerben Muth.

"Ach nein, erwerben kann ich's nicht,
Es steht mir gar zu fern.
Es weilt so hoch, es blinkt so schön,
Wie droben jener Stern."

Die Sterne, die begehrt man nicht,
Man freut sich ihrer Pracht,
Und mit Entzücken blickt man auf
In jeder heitern Nacht.

"Und mit Entzücken blick' ich auf,
So manchen lieben Tag;
Verweinen laßt die Nächte mich,
So lang' ich weinen mag."

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke, Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand, Erster Band, Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cottaschen Buchhandlung, 1827, pages 96-97, and with Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1804, Herausgegeben von Wieland und Goethe, Tübingen, in der Cotta'schen Buchhandlung, pages 115-116.

1 Schubert (in the autograph): "eigen"
2 Schubert (Friedlaender edition): "vertraure"


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in Russian (Русский), a translation by Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky (1783 - 1852) ; composed by Nikolay Ivanovich Bakhmetyev, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky, Ivan Ivanovich Ignatiev, Nikolai Alexeyevich Titov, Nikolai Sergeyevich Titov.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Troost in tranen", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Comfort in tears", copyright ©
  • ENG English (Edgar Alfred Bowring) , "Comfort in tears", appears in The Poems of Goethe, first published 1853
  • FRE French (Français) (Gérard Labrunie) , "Consolation dans les larmes"
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Antonio Zencovich) , copyright © 2015, (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 between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 172

Comfort in tears
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
How happens it that thou art sad,
While happy all appear?
Thine eye proclaims too well that thou
Hast wept full many a tear.

"If I have wept in solitude,
None other shares my grief,
And tears to me sweet balsam are,
And give my heart relief."

Thy happy friends invite thee now,--
Oh come, then, to our breast!
And let the loss thou hast sustain'd
Be there to us confess'd!

"Ye shout, torment me, knowing not
What 'tis afflicteth me;
Ah no! I have sustained no loss,
Whate'er may wanting be."

If so it is, arise in haste!
Thou'rt young and full of life.
At years like thine, man's blest with strength.
And courage for the strife.

"Ah no! in vain 'twould be to strive,
The thing I seek is far;
It dwells as high, it gleams as fair
As yonder glitt'ring star."

The stars we never long to clasp,
We revel in their light,
And with enchantment upward gaze,
Each clear and radiant night.

"And I with rapture upward gaze,
On many a blissful day;
Then let me pass the night in tears,
Till tears are wip'd away!"


Based on:

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

    [ None yet in the database ]

Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

This text was added to the website: 2008-04-16
Line count: 32
Word count: 190