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

Prometheus
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA
Bedecke deinen Himmel, [Zeus]1,
Mit Wolkendunst,
Und übe, dem Knaben gleich,
Der Disteln köpft,
[An]2 Eichen dich und Bergeshöhn;
Mußt mir meine Erde
Doch lassen stehn,
Und meine Hütte, die du nicht gebaut,
Und meinen Herd,
Um dessen Gluth
Du mich beneidest.

Ich kenne nichts [Aermeres]3
Unter der Sonn', als euch, Götter!
Ihr [nähret]4 kümmerlich
[Von]5 Opfersteuern
[Und]6 Gebetshauch
Eure Majestät,
[Und]7 darbtet, wären
Nicht Kinder und Bettler
Hoffnungsvolle Thoren.

Da ich ein Kind war,
Nicht wußte wo aus noch ein,
Kehrt' ich mein verirrtes Auge
Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär'
Ein Ohr, zu hören meine Klage,
Ein Herz, wie mein's,
Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.

Wer half mir
Wider der Titanen Uebermuth?
Wer rettete vom Tode mich,
Von Sklaverey?
Hast du nicht Alles selbst vollendet,
Heilig glühend Herz?
Und glühtest jung und gut,
Betrogen, Rettungsdank
Dem Schlafenden da droben?

Ich dich ehren? Wofür?
Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert
Je des Beladenen?
Hast du die Thränen gestillet
Je des Geängsteten?
Hat nicht mich zum Manne geschmiedet
Die allmächtige Zeit
Und das ewige Schicksal,
Meine Herrn und deine?

Wähntest du etwa,
Ich sollte das Leben hassen,
In Wüsten fliehen,
Weil nicht alle
Blüthenträume reiften?

Hier sitz' ich, forme Menschen
Nach meinem Bilde,
Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sey,
Zu leiden, zu weinen,
Zu genießen und zu freuen sich,
Und dein nicht zu achten,
Wie ich!

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke. Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand. Zweyter Band. Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cotta'schen Buchhandlung. 1827, pages 79-81; and with Goethe's Schriften, Achter Band, Leipzig, bey Georg Joachim Göschen, 1789, pages 207-209.

First published anonymously in Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi's Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza in Briefen an den Herrn Moses Mendelssohn. Breslau, bey Gottl. Löwe. 1785, where Goethe's poem is included on four unpaginated pages between p.48 and p.49.

1 Goethe (in editions before 1827): "Zevs"
2 Schubert (Neue Gesamtausgabe): "Mit"
3 Goethe (1789 edition): "ärmers"
4 Schubert: "nährt"
5 Schubert (Alte Gesamtausgabe): "Vom"
6 Schubert (Neue Gesamtausgabe): "Vom"
7 Schubert (Neue Gesamtausgabe): "Ihr"

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) , "Prometeu", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Prometheus", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Prometheus", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Prométhée", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Prometeo", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2018-04-03 15:50:11
Line count: 57
Word count: 225

Prometheus
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 Cover your heavens, Zeus,
 with gauzy clouds,
 and practice, like a boy
 who beheads thistles,
 on the oaks and peaks of mountains;
 but you must allow
 my world to stand,
 and my hut, which you did not build,
 and my hearth,
 whose glow
 you envy me.

 I know nothing more shabby
 under the sun, than you gods!
 You wretchedly nourish,
 from offerings
 and the breath of prayers,
 your majesty;
 And you would starve, were
 children and beggars not
 such hopeful fools.

 When I was a child
 I did not know in from out;
  I turned my confused eyes
 to the sun, as if above it there were
 an ear to hear my laments -
 a heart like mine
 that would pity the oppressed.

 Who helped me
 against the pride of the titans?
 Who rescued me from death -
 from slavery?
 Did you not accomplish it all yourself,
 my sacred, glowing heart?
 Yet did you not glow with ardent and youthful goodness,
 deceived, and full of gratitude
 to the sleepers above?

 I, honor you? Why?
 Have you ever alleviated the pain
 of one who is oppressed?
 Have you ever quieted the tears
 of one who is distressed?
 Was I not forged into a man
 by all-mighty Time
 and eternal Fate,
 my masters and yours?

 You were deluded if you thought
 I should hate life
 and fly into the wilderness
 because not all of my
 budding dreams blossomed.

 Here I will sit, forming men
 after my own image.
 It will be a race like me,
 to suffer, to weep,
 to enjoy and to rejoice,
 and to pay no attention to you,
 as I do!

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

 

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:30
Line count: 57
Word count: 273