Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Bahnlos und pfadlos, Felsen hinan
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
Bahnlos und pfadlos, Felsen hinan
stürmet der Mensch, ein Wandersmann.
Stürzende Bäche, wogender Fluß,
brausender Wald, nichts hemmet den Fuß!

Dunkel im Kampfe über ihn hin,
jagend im Heere die Wolken zieh'n;
rollender Donner, strömender Guß,
sternlose Nacht, nichts hemmet den Fuß!

Endlich, ha! endlich schimmert's von fern!
Ist es ein Irrlicht, ist es ein Stern?
Ha! wie der Schimmer so freundlich blinkt,
wie er mich locket, wie er mir winkt!

Rascher durcheilet der Wandrer die Nacht,
Hin nach dem Lichte zieht's ihn mit Macht!
Sprecht, wie: sind's Flammen, ist's Morgenrot?
Ist es die Liebe, ist es der Tod?

About the headline (FAQ)


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):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Onzeker licht", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , "Uncertain light", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Lumière incertaine", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2004-05-02
Line count: 16
Word count: 99

Uncertain light
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Without a path, without a trail, up the rocky cliff
Storms a man, a wanderer.
Plunging streams, heaving river,
Roaring forest, nothing hampers his progress!

Darkly in battle above him,
The legion of clouds races quickly;
Rolling thunder, streaming rain,
Starless night, nothing hampers his progress!

Finally, ha! finally it shimmers from afar!
Is it a will-o'-the-wisp, is it a star?
Ha! how friendly gleams the flash,
How it entices me, how it beckons to me!

The wanderer hastens through the night more rapidly,
He is drawn mightily toward the light!
Tell me: are they flames, is it the sunrise,
Is it love, is it death?


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2010 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.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2010-02-23
Line count: 16
Word count: 106