Translation © by Emily Ezust

Lob des hohen Verstands
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE ITA SPA
Einstmals in einem tiefen Tal
Kukuk und Nachtigall
Täten ein Wett' anschlagen:
Zu singen um das Meisterstück,
Gewinn' es Kunst, gewinn' es Glück:
Dank soll er davon tragen.

Der Kukuk sprach: "So dir's gefällt,
Hab' ich den Richter wählt",
Und tät gleich den Esel ernennen.
"Denn weil er hat zwei Ohren groß,
So kann er hören desto bos
Und, was recht ist, kennen!"

Sie flogen vor den Richter bald.
Wie dem die Sache ward erzählt,
Schuf er, sie sollten singen.
Die Nachtigall sang lieblich aus!
Der Esel sprach: "Du machst mir's kraus!
Du machst mir's kraus! I-ja! I-ja!
Ich kann's in Kopf nicht bringen!"

Der Kukuk drauf fing an geschwind
Sein Sang durch Terz und Quart und Quint.
Dem Esel g'fiels, er sprach nur
"Wart! Wart! Wart! Dein Urteil will ich sprechen,
Wohl sungen hast du, Nachtigall!
Aber Kukuk, singst gut Choral!

Und hältst den Takt fein innen!
Das sprech' ich nach mein' hoh'n Verstand!
Und kost' es gleich ein ganzes Land,
So laß ich's dich gewinnen!"


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

Set in a modified version by Johann Karl Gottfried Loewe.

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

  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , title 1: "In praise of higher understanding", copyright ©
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Elena María Accinelli) , title 1: "Alabanza a la mente superior", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , title 1: "Lode all'alta competenza", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , title 1: "Éloge de la haute sagesse", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:25
Line count: 29
Word count: 167

In praise of higher understanding
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Once in a deep valley,
The cuckoo and the nightingale
Had a contest:
To sing the Masterpiece.
To win by art or to win by luck,
Fame would the victor gain.

The cuckoo said: "If it pleases you,
I will nominate the judge."
And he named the donkey right away.
"Since he has two huge ears,
He can hear so much better
And will know what is correct."

They soon flew before the judge
And when the issue was explained to him,
He told them they should sing.
The nightingale sang out sweetly!
The donkey said: You make me dizzy!
You make me dizzy! Eee-yah!
I can't get it into my head!

The cuckoo then quickly started
his song through thirds and fourths and fifths;
The donkey found it pleasing, and only said
Wait! Wait! Wait! I will pronounce judgement now.
Well have you sung, Nightingale!
But, Cuckoo, you sing a good chorale!

And you keep the rhythm finely and internally!
Thus I say according to my sublime understanding,
And, although it may cost an entire land,
I will let you win!


  • 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


Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:25
Line count: 29
Word count: 182