by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Gary Bachlund (b. 1947)

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Warum ist alles so rätselhaft?
Hier ist das Wollen, hier ist die Kraft;
Das Wollen will, die Kraft ist bereit,
Und daneben die schöne lange Zeit."
So seht doch hin, wo die gute Welt
Seht hin, wo sie auseinanderfällt!


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 (Gary Bachlund) , "Problem", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2010-02-02
Line count: 7
Word count: 40

Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Why is everything so problematic?
Here is the quarrel1, here is the force;
The quarrel wishes, the force is prepared
And in addition one has a lovely long time.
On close inspection, where the good world 
comes together!
Behold, it goes to where it falls apart!

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Composer and translator's note: The word, "Wollen," first means wool in German, and yet is also used in the patois as a substitute for quarreling, much in the same manner as in English one finds the phrase, "pull the wool over your eyes," meaning to confuse in a most non-literal reading. Used in German vernacular it is "sich in die Wolle kreigen," but whether as woolen fabric or as a quarrel between things, men or nations, the metaphor remains the same. Things which we make and things which we do fall apart. One must constantly strive to hold things together, in good repair and functional. Else "behold, where everything falls apart!" I opt for this secondary meaning as the clear message, though in both frames of reference, the conclusion Goethe offers is accurate. Whether in the working with fabric or human ideas, edges become frayed, bindings become unbound and the work falls apart. Such is the nature of things, even if this seems a seemingly cynical observation.


Based on

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2010-02-02
Line count: 7
Word count: 46