by Johann Baptist Mayrhofer (1787 - 1836)
Translation © by T. P. (Peter) Perrin

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE
Auf seinem goldnen Throne
Der graue König sitzt -
[Er]1 starret in die Sonne,
Die roth [im]2 Westen blitzt.

Der [Sänger]3 rührt die Harfe,
Sie rauschet Siegessang;
Der Ernst jedoch, der scharfe,
Er trotzt dem vollen Klang.

Nun stimmt er süße Weisen,
An's Herz sich klammernd an:
Ob er ihn nicht mit leisen
Versuchen mildern kann.

[Vergeblich]4 ist sein Mühen,
Erschöpft des Liedes Reich -
Und auf der Stirne ziehen
Die Sorgen [wettergleich]5.

Der Barde, tief erbittert,
Schlägt [seine]6 Harf' entzwey,
Und durch die [Halle]7 zittert
Der Silbersaiten Schrey.

[Doch]8 wie auch Alle beben,
Der Herrscher zürnet nicht;
Der Gnade Strahlen schweben
Auf seinem Angesicht.

»Du wolle mich nicht zeihen
Der Unempfindlichkeit:
In lang verblühten Mayen
Wie hast du mich erfreut!

Wie jede Lust gesteigert,
Die aus der Urne fiel!
Was mir ein Gott [verweigert]9,
Erstattete dein Spiel.

Vom kalten Herzen gleitet
[Nun]10 Liedeszauber ab;
Und immer näher [schreitet]11
Vergänglichkeit und Grab.«

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Gedichte von Johann Mayrhofer. Wien. Bey Friedrich Volke. 1824, pages 40-41.

Note: Schubert received Mayrhofer's texts generally in handwriting; the printed edition of Mayrhofer's poems appeared much later and presents the texts usually in a revised version.

1 Schubert (first version): "Und"
2 Schubert: "in"
3 Schubert (first version): "Barde"
4 Schubert (first version): "Vergebens"
5 Schubert (autograph of second version): "wetterschwer"
6 Schubert (second version): "die"
7 Schubert: "Lüfte"
8 Schubert: "Und"
9 Schubert (autograph of second version): "geweigert"
10 Schubert (second version): "Dein"
11 Schubert (second version): "schreitet nun"


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) , "La fi del cant", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Het eind van het lied", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (T. P. (Peter) Perrin) , "Song's ending", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Fin de chant", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Richard Morris , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 36
Word count: 152

Song's ending
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
On his golden throne
the grey king sits;
he gazes toward the sun
that flares red in the west.
The minstrel strikes his harp,
it sounds a victory song;
but harsh solemnity
rejects such resonance.
Now he plays softer srains,
meant more to touch the heart,
hoping by gentler means
to soothe him if he can.
His labor is unavailing,
the realm of song is drained;
and on the king's brow gather
stormclouds of distress.
In deep despair the minstrel
breaks his harp in two;
the cry of silver strings
quavers through the air.
Although all also tremble,
the ruler shows no wrath;
beams of benevolence
stream across his face.
"You must not find me guilty
of hard-heartedness;
in springtimes now long faded
you gave me such pleasure.
How every joy was heightened
that fell from fortune's bounty!
What any god denied me,
your playing reimbursed.
But now, from my cold heart,
song's magic slips away,
and ever nearer stride
life's brevity and the grave."


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2011 by T. P. (Peter) Perrin, (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


This text was added to the website: 2011-06-27
Line count: 36
Word count: 165