by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Die Mitternacht zog näher schon;
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE ITA SPA
Die Mitternacht zog näher schon;
In stummer Ruh' lag Babylon.

Nur oben in des Königs Schloß,
Da flackert's, da lärmt des Königs Troß.

Dort oben in dem Königsaal,
Belsatzar hielt sein Königsmahl.

Die Knechte saßen in schimmernden Reihn,
Und leerten die Becher mit funkelndem Wein.

Es klirrten die Becher, es jauchzten die Knecht';
So klang es dem störrigen Könige recht.

Des Königs Wangen leuchten Glut;
Im Wein erwuchs ihm kecker Mut.

Und blindlings reißt der Mut ihn fort;
Und er lästert die Gottheit mit sündigem Wort.

Und er brüstet sich frech und lästert wild;
Die Knechtenschar ihm Beifall brüllt.

Der König rief mit stolzem Blick;
Der Diener eilt und kehrt zurück.

Er trug viel gülden Gerät auf dem Haupt;
Das war aus dem Tempel Jehovas geraubt.

Und der König ergriff mit frevler Hand
Einen heiligen Becher, gefüllt bis am Rand.

Und er leert ihn hastig bis auf den Grund
Und rufet laut mit schäumendem Mund:

«Jehova! dir künd' ich auf ewig Hohn -
Ich bin der König von Babylon!»

Doch kaum das grause Wort verklang,
Dem König ward's heimlich im Busen bang.

Das gellende Lachen verstummte zumal;
Es wurde leichenstill im Saal.

Und sieh! und sieh! an weißer Wand
Da kam's hervor wie Menschenhand;

Und schrieb, und schrieb an weißer Wand
Buchstaben von Feuer, und schrieb und schwand.

Der König stieren Blicks da saß,
Mit schlotternden Knien und totenblaß.

Die Knechtenschar saß kalt durchgraut,
Und saß gar still, gab keinen Laut.

Die Magier kamen, doch keiner verstand
Zu deuten die Flammenschrift an der Wand.

Belsazar ward aber in selbiger Nacht
Von seinen Knechten umgebracht.

About the headline (FAQ)

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):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Karel Dostál-Lutinov) , "Belsazar", first published 1917
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Belsatzar", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Belshazzar", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Balthazar", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Belsazar", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Saúl Botero Restrepo) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:32
Line count: 42
Word count: 264

Belshazzar
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
 Midnight drew nearer already;
 In mute rest lay Babylon.

 Only above, in the king's castle,
 lights are flickering and the king's retinue makes noise.

 And above, in the king's hall,
 Belshazzar holds his royal banquet.

 The knights sat in shimmering rows,
 emptying goblets of sparkling wine.

 The goblets clinked, the knights cheered;
 and so they made noise for that headstrong king.

 The king's cheeks glowed;
 through wine his courage grew bolder.

 And blindly, his courage pulled him forward,
 and he maligned God with blasphemous words.

 And he boasted impertinently and blasphemed wildly
 while the crowd of knights bellowed their approval.

 The king called with a haughty glance;
 the servant hurried off and soon came back.

 He brought back on his head many golden treasures
 that had been plundered from Jehovah's Temple.

 And the king grasped with his criminal hand
 a sacred goblet and filled it to the brim.

 And he drained it hastily to the bottom,
 and then called loudly with foaming mouth:

 "Jehovah! I proclaim to you my eternal scorn,
 for I am the king of Babylon!"

 But hardly had those terrible words died away,
 when the king grew secretly fearful in his heart.

 The ringing laughter fell silent at once;
 the hall grew deathly still.

 And behold! behold! on the white wall
 there appeared something like a human hand;

 and it wrote and wrote on the white wall
 letters of fire; it wrote and disappeared.

 The king sat staring there,
 with knocking knees, pale as death.

 The crowd of knights sat cold and filled with horror,
 and sat entirely still, without a sound.

 Magicians came, but no one could understand
 and find the meaning of the flaming script on the wall.

 But Belshazzar, that very night,
 was murdered by his knights.

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 10:01:32
Line count: 42
Word count: 294