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

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Die reichen Leute, die gewinnt
Man nur durch platte Schmeichelein -
Das Geld ist platt, mein liebes Kind,
Und will auch platt geschmeichelt sein.

Das Weihrauchfaß, das schwinge keck
Vor jedem göttlich goldnen Kalb;
Bet an im Staub, bet an im Dreck,
Vor allem aber lob nicht halb.

Das Brot ist teuer dieses Jahr,
Jedoch die schönsten Worte hat
Man noch umsonst - Besinge gar
Mäcenas' Hund, und friß dich satt!


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) , "Lumpáctví"
  • ENG English [singable] (Peter Palmer) , "Riff-raff", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-02-19
Line count: 12
Word count: 71

Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
The rich and famous, they're beguiled
By flattery that's mean and crude --
For money's vulgar, precious child,
And must by vulgar talk be wooed.

So let the brazen censer tilt
In front of every golden calf,
Kneel down in dust, kneel down in filth,
And mind you don't give praise by half.

This year the price of bread has soared,
And yet the sweetest words are still
For free, no cost, so even laud
The rich man's dog, and grab your fill!

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: 12
Word count: 82