by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
Translation © by Peter Palmer

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Hat man viel, so wird man bald
Noch viel mehr dazu bekommen.
Wer nur wenig hat, dem wird
Auch das Wenige genommen.

Wenn du aber gar nichts hast,
Ach, so lasse dich begraben --
Denn ein Recht zum Leben, Lump,
Haben nur, die etwas haben.


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):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Otokar Fischer) , "Běh světa"
  • ENG English [singable] (Peter Palmer) , "Way of the world", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-02-09
Line count: 8
Word count: 44

Way of the world
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Start out rich, and life will heap
Even greater wealth upon you.
Start with little wealth, and life
Takes that little swiftly from you.

When you've not a sou to spend,
Ah, you might as well be buried;
Only wealthy people, dolt,
May the earth by rights inherit.

Note: this is a revised American version of the one published with the David Blake setting.


  • Singable translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2009 by Peter Palmer, (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: 2009-06-10
Line count: 8
Word count: 48