by Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim (1719 - 1803)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Das Leben ist ein Traum
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE IRI ITA
Das Leben ist ein Traum!
Wir schlüpfen in die Welt und schweben
[Mit jungem Zehn 
Und frischem Gaum]1,
[Auf ihrem Wehn
Und ihrem Schaum]2,
Bis wir nicht mehr an Erde kleben;
Und dann, was [ist]3? Was ist das Leben?
Das Leben ist ein Traum.

Das Leben ist ein Traum!
Wir lieben, unsre Herzen schlagen,
Und Herz an Herz
[Gefüget]4 kaum,
[Ist Lieb und Herz]5
Ein leerer Schaum,
Ist hin geschwunden, weggetragen;
Was ist das Leben? hör' ich fragen:
Das Leben ist ein Traum.

Das Leben ist ein Traum!
Wir denken, zweifeln, werden [Weise]6;
Wir theilen ein
In Ort und Raum,
In Licht und Schein, 
In Kraut und Baum,
[Sind Euler]7 und gewinnen Preise
[Dann, noch am Grabe,]8 sagen Weise:
Das Leben ist ein Traum.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with F. W. Gleims Sämmtliche Werke, zweyter Band, Carlsruhe, 1819, page 131.

Note: "Zehn" is an older spelling of "Zahn", as are "Wehn" for "Wahn" and "theilen" for "teilen"
1 on some recordings of Haydn, "Mit trunknem Sinn,/ erwachet kaum"; Haydn's score has "Mit jungen Zahn/ Und frischen Gaum"
2 on some recordings of Haydn: "Nach ihrem Wahn/ Und ihrem Schaum"; Haydn's score has "Auf ihren Wahn/ Und ihren Schaum"
3 Haydn: "ist's"
4 on some recordings of Haydn: "vereinet"
5 on some recordings of Haydn: "Wird Lieb und Scherz"; Haydn's score has "Ist Lieb und Scherz
6 Haydn: "weise" (adjective rather than noun)
7 In some editions of the poem, "Studiren"
8 on some recordings of Haydn: "Doch noch im Grabe"

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):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "La vida és un somni", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Het leven is een droom", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Life is a dream", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "La vie est un rêve", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , "Is taibhreamh é an saol!", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Solo un sogno è la vita", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 27
Word count: 124

Life is a dream
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Life is a dream!
We slip into the world and float
[With young teeth
And fresh gums]1
[Upon its waves
and its foam]2 
until we no longer cleave to the earth.
And then, what is it? What is this life?
Life is a dream.

Life is a dream!
We love, our hearts pound,
and hardly is heart 
joined with heart
than love and [hearts]3
are empty foam
that disappears and is mourned.
What is life? I hear you ask.
Life is a dream.

Life is a dream!
We think, we doubt, we grow wise;
we arrange things 
in our places and spaces,
in light and shine, 
in vegetables and trees;
we are Euler, winning prizes;
then, at the graveside, the wise say:
Life is a dream.

View original text (without footnotes)

Note for line 3-7: Leonhard Euler was a mathematician who won the Paris Academy Prize Problem competition twelve times.

1 "Mit trunknem Sinn,/ erwachet kaum" = "With drunken senses,/ hardly awake,"
2 "Nach ihrem Wahn/ Und ihrem Schaum" = "after its confusion and foam,"
3 "Scherz = "jokes"

Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive -- https://www.lieder.net/

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.


Based on

 

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 27
Word count: 126