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

Singet nicht in Trauertönen
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE GRE ITA
Singet nicht in Trauertönen
Von der Einsamkeit der Nacht.
Nein, sie ist, o holde Schönen,
Zur Geselligkeit gemacht.

Wie das Weib dem Mann gegeben
Als die schönste Hälfte war,
Ist die Nacht das halbe Leben
Und die schönste Hälfte zwar.

Könnt ihr euch des Tages freuen,
Der nur Freuden unterbricht?
Er ist gut, sich zu zerstreuen;
Zu was anderm taugt er nicht.

Aber wenn in nächt'ger Stunde
Süsser Lampe Dämmrung fließt,
Und vom Mund zum nahen Munde
Scherz und Liebe sich ergießt;

Wenn der rasche, lose Knabe,
Der sonst wild und feurig eilt,
Oft bei einer kleinen Gabe
Unter leichten Spielen weilt;

Wenn die Nachtigall Verliebten
Liebevoll ein Liedchen singt,
Das Gefangnen und Betrübten
Nur wie Ach und Wehe klingt;

Mit wie leichtem Herzensregen
Horchet ihr der Glocke nicht,
Die mit zwölf bedächtgen Schlägen
Ruh und Sicherheit verspricht.

Darum an dem langen Tage,
Merke dir es, liebe Brust;
Jeder Tag hat seine Plage,
Und die Nacht hat ihre Lust.

R. Schumann sets stanzas 1, 3-8
V. Tomášek sets stanzas 1-4, 7-8

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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):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Zing nu niet in droeve tonen", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Do not sing in mournful tones", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Ne chantez pas dans des tons désolés", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Non cantate in triste melodia", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:30
Line count: 32
Word count: 159

Do not sing in mournful tones
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 Do not sing in mournful tones
 of the loneliness of Night.
 No; it was, o tender, fair ones,
 made for companionship.
 As woman was given to man
 to be his better half,
 so is Night half of life,
 and certainly the better half.
 Can you delight in the day,
 which only interrupts joy?
 It is good for distraction, 
 but of use for nothing else.
 But when, in that nocturnal hour,
 the sweet lamps' twilight flows,
 and from mouth to neighboring mouth
 pour jests and love;
 when that quick, scampish boy
 who hurries, wild and fiery,
 often toying with a small gift
 in light play to pass the time;
 when the nightingale sings to sweethearts
 a little song full of love,
 which to the imprisoned and troubled
 sounds only like sighs and moans;
 with such a lightly stirring heart
 do you not listen to the bell,
 that, with twelve measured strokes
 promises repose and safety?
 Thus, in the long day,
 mark it well, dear heart:
 every day has its troubles,
 and the night has its pleasure.


  • 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 --

    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: 32
Word count: 176