by Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962)
Translation © by Laura Kinderman

Erster Schnee
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG ENG FRE
Alt geworden bist Du, grünes Jahr,
Blickst schon welk und trägst schon Schnee im Haar,
Gehst schon müd und hast den Tod im Schritt-
Ich begleite Dich, ich sterbe mit.

Zögernd geht das [Herz den bangen]1 Pfad,
Angstvoll schläft im Schnee die Wintersaat.
Wieviel Äste brach mir schon der Wind,
Deren Narben nun mein Panzer sind!
Wieviel bittere Tode starb ich schon!
Neugeburt war jedes Todes Lohn.

Sei willkommen, Tod, du dunkles Tor!
Jenseits läutet hell des Lebens Chor.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Hermann Hesse, Sämtliche Werke, herausgegeben von Volker Michels, Band 10 Die Gedichte, bearbeitet von Peter Huber, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002, pages 262-263.

1 Scholz: "bange Herze den"


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):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , "First snowfall", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Laura Kinderman) , "First snow", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Première neige", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

Text added to the website: 2009-06-04 00:00:00
Last modified: 2018-07-12 12:15:54
Line count: 12
Word count: 79

First snow
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
How you have aged, year once so green,   
Looking already faded, and hair laced with snow,
Weary already, and with death in each step --
I'll accompany you, as to die you go.
Lingering, the heavy heart follows the path,
Fearful, the winter-seed, snowy, sleeps.
How many a branch broke the wind for me,
The scars of which my shield now keeps! 
How many bitter deaths have I died already!
New birth was each death's rewarding light.
Be welcomed, death, you darksome gate!
Beyond, the choir of life rings bright.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2010 by Laura Kinderman, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


Text added to the website: 2010-08-07 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:55
Line count: 12
Word count: 89