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

Selige Sehnsucht
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Sagt es niemand, nur den Weisen,
Weil die Menge gleich verhöhnet,
Das Lebend'ge will ich preisen,
Das nach Flammentod sich sehnet. 

In der Liebesnächte Kühlung,
Die dich zeugte, wo du zeugtest,
Überfällt dich fremde Fühlung,
Wenn die stille Kerze leuchtet. 

Nicht mehr bleibest du umfangen
In der Finsternis Beschattung, 
Und dich reißet neu Verlangen
Auf zu höherer Begattung. 

Keine Ferne macht dich schwierig,
Kommst geflogen und gebannt,
Und zuletzt, des Lichts begierig, 
Bist du, Schmetterling, verbrannt. 

Und so lang du das nicht hast,
Dieses: Stirb und werde! 
Bist du nur ein trüber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde. 

Tut ein Schilf sich doch hervor,
Welten zu versüßen! 
Möge meinem Schreibe-Rohr
Liebliches entfließen!

E. Pepping sets stanzas 1-5
P. Even sets stanzas 1-5
K. Zelter sets stanzas 1-5 in (at least) one setting - see below for more information
R. Gawlick sets stanza 5


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

The text above (or a part of it) is used in the following settings:

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Blissful yearning", copyright ©

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 111

Blissful yearning
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 Tell this to no one but the wise,
 for the masses will just ridicule it:
 I would praise the living thing
 that yearns for death in the flames.
 In the cool hush of nights of love,
 when you conceive as you were conceived,
 a strange feeling overcomes you
 when the quiet candle gleams.
 No longer do you remain captive
 in the darkness of these shadows;
 and a new desire rips you 
 toward a loftier intercourse.
 No distance can make you heavy:
 you come flying and spellbound,
 and at last, eager for the light,
 poor moth, you are burned to death.
 And so long as you have not attained it,
 this, "Die and become!",
 you will only be a gloomy guest
 on this dark earth.
 Pick up a pipe for yourself
 to make the world a little sweeter!
 May it lovingly chase away 
 my writing-pipe!


  • 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:


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 145