by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Ich wollt' ich wär' ein Fisch
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA
Ich wollt' ich wär' ein Fisch,
So [hurtig und]1 frisch;
Und kämst du zu [anglen]2,
Ich würde nicht [manglen]3.
Ich wollt' ich wär' ein Fisch,
So hurtig und frisch.

Ich wollt' ich wär' ein Pferd,
Da wär' ich dir werth.
O wär' ich ein Wagen,
Bequem dich zu tragen.
Ich wollt' ich wär' ein Pferd,
Da wär' ich dir werth. 

Ich wollt' ich wäre Gold,
Dir immer im Sold;
Und thätst du was kaufen,
Käm ich [wieder]4 gelaufen.
Ich wollt' ich wäre Gold,
Dir immer im Sold.

Ich wollt' ich wär' treu,
Mein Liebchen stets neu;
Ich wollt' mich verheißen,
Wollt' nimmer verreisen.
Ich wollt' ich wär' treu,
Mein Liebchen stets neu.

Ich wollt' ich wär' alt
Und runzlig und kalt;
Thätst du mir's versagen,
Da könnt mich's nicht plagen.
Ich wollt' ich wär' alt
Und runzlig und kalt.

Wär' ich Affe sogleich
Voll neckender Streich';
Hätt' was dich verdrossen,
So macht' ich dir Possen.
Wär' ich Affe sogleich
Voll neckender Streich'.

Wär' ich gut wie ein Schaf;
Wie der Löwe so brav;
Hätt' Augen wie's Lüchschen,
Und Listen wie's Füchschen.
Wär' ich gut wie ein Schaf
Wie der Löwe so brav.

Was alles ich wär',
Das gönnt' ich dir sehr;
Mit fürstlichen Gaben,
Du solltest mich haben.
Was alles ich wär',
Das gönnt' ich dir sehr.

Doch bin ich wie ich bin,
[Und]5 nimm mich nur hin!
Willst [du]6 bess're besitzen,
So laß dir sie schnitzen.
Ich bin nun wie ich bin;
So nimm mich nur hin!

F. Schubert sets stanzas 1-3, 9

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand. Erster Band. Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cotta'schen Buchhandlung. 1827, pages 34-36; with Goethe's Werke. Erster Band. Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J. G. Cotta'schen Buchhandlung. 1815, pages 32-34; and with Goethe's Werke. Erster Band. Original-Ausgabe. Wien, 1816. Bey Chr. Kaulfuß und C. Armbruster. Stuttgart. In der J. G. Cotta'schen Buchhandlung. Gedruckt bey Anton Strauß, pages 34-36.

1 Schubert (autograph): "munter so"
2 Goethe (Wien 1816 edition), and Schubert: "angeln"
3 Goethe (Wien 1816 edition), and Schubert: "mangeln"
4 Schubert: "wie"
5 Schubert: "Doch"
6 omitted by Schubert

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) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Minnaars in soorten", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "I wish I were a fish", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Amoureux sous toutes ses formes", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Innamorato in tutte le forme", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Martin-Beatus Meier , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 54
Word count: 248

I wish I were a fish
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
I wish I were a fish,
so quick and fresh;
and if you came to fish,
I would not stay away.
I wish I were a fish,
so quick and fresh;

I wish I were a horse
that you esteemed;
O were I only a cart
to bear you comfortably!
I wish I were a horse
that you esteemed.

I wish I were gold,
always in your pocket,
and if you used me to buy something,
I would come running back.
I wish I were gold,
always in your pocket.

I wish I were faithful,
and my sweetheart always new;
I would promise myself
never to go away.
I wish I were true,
and my sweetheart always new.

I wish I were old
and wrinkled and cold;
If you betrayed me,
I would not be able to torment myself.
I wish I were old,
and wrinkled and cold.

Were I were a monkey
full of teasing pranks,
if something annoyed you,
I would make a joke of it.
Were I a monkey
full of teasing pranks.

Were I as good as a sheep,
as brave as a lion;
had I eyes like a lynx,
and cunning like a fox.
Were I good as a sheep,
and brave as a lion....

If I were all that, 
I would not begrudge you;
with princely gifts,
you should have me.
If I were all that,
I would not begrudge you.

But I am just as I am;
and take me for that!
If you want something better,
then let them carve it out of you.
For I am just as I am;
and take me for that.

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: 54
Word count: 274