by Rudolph Baumbach (1840 - 1905)
Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Eine Frage quält mich bass
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Eine Frage quält mich bass,
Macht mir Kopfzerbrechen:
Bleib ich heut' beim Tintenfass,
Oder geh' ich zechen ?
Hei, da muss ich doch einmal
Das Orakel fragen.
Meiner Nestelknöpfe Zahl
Wird mir Kunde sagen.

Soll ich gehen oder nicht?
  Knopf spricht: "Geh'n!"
Was des Schicksals Stimme spricht,
  Muss gescheh'n.

Noch ein Andres quält mich recht,
Macht mir viele Sorgen:
Zahl' ich heut' im blauen Hecht,
Oder soll ich borgen?
Hei, da muss ich doch einmal
Das Orakel fragen.
Meiner Nestelknöpfe Zahl
Wird mir Kunde sagen.

Zahl' ich, oder zahl' ich nicht?
  Knopf sagt: "Nein!" 
Was des Schicksals Stimme spricht,
  Das muss sein.

Eine dritte Frage macht
Sorgen mir und Wehen:
Soll ich in der Mondscheinnacht
Heut' zum Liebchen gehen?
Hei, da muss ich doch einmal
Das Orakel fragen.
Meiner Nestelknöpfe Zahl
Wird mir Kunde sagen.

Thu' ich's, oder lass' ich's heut'?
  "Lass!" spricht Knopf. -- 
Wer nicht Trotz dem Schicksal beut,
  Ist ein Tropf.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Spielmannslieder von Rudolf Baumbach, Leipzig, Verlag von A. G. Liebeskind, 1883, pages 14-15.


Authorship

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):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2010-09-22
Line count: 36
Word count: 153

One question plagues me sorely
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
One question plagues me sorely,
Puzzles me:
Do I remain at the inkwell today
Or do I go carousing?
Ha, for that I must just
Ask the oracle.
The number of my ribbon-knots
Shall tell me what to do.

Shall I go or not?
  Knot says: "Go!"
What the voice of fate decrees
  Must happen.

Yet another thing torments me quite
[And] causes me much worry:
Should I pay today in the Blue Pike,
Or should I borrow?
Ha, for that I must just
Ask the oracle.
The number of my ribbon-knots
Shall tell me what to do.

Do I pay or do I not pay?
  Knot says: "No!"
What the voice of fate decrees
  That must be.

Yet a third question
Causes me anxiety and pain:
Today, in the moonlit night,
Shall I go see my darling?
Ha, for that I must 
Ask the oracle.
The number of my ribbon-knots
Shall tell me what to do.

Do I go, or do I let it be today?
  "Let it be!" says the knot. --
He who does not defy fate
  Is an idiot.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translations of title(s):
"Orakel" = "Oracle"
"Das Orakel" = "The oracle"

Translator's note: The word "Nestelknöpfe" likely refers to the knots of ribbon adorning the garments of a Spielmann from the middle ages. The Spielmann in this poem used these knots of ribbon to count off in the manner of a girl plucking petals off a daisy to the words "he loves me, he loves me not." (The assistance of Bertram Kottmann in elucidating the meaning of this word is gratefully acknowledged.)


Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2020 by Sharon Krebs, (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.
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This text was added to the website: 2020-02-22
Line count: 36
Word count: 182