by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty (1748 - 1776) and by Johann Heinrich Voss (1751 - 1826)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Auf den Tod einer Nachtigall
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG FRE ITA
Sie ist dahin, die Maienlieder tönte;
Die Sängerin,
Die durch ihr Lied den ganzen Hain verschönte,
Sie ist dahin!
Sie, deren Ton mir in die Seele hallte,
Wenn ich am Bach,
Der durch Gebüsch im Abendgolde wallte,
Auf Blumen lag!

Sie gurgelte, tief aus der vollen Kehle,
Den Silberschlag:
Der Wiederhall in seiner Felsenhöhle
Schlug leis' ihn nach.
Die ländlichen Gesäng' und Feldschalmeien
Erklangen drein;
Es tanzeten die Jungfraun ihre Reihen
Im Abendschein.

Auf Moose horcht' ein Jüngling mit Entzücken
Dem holden Laut,
Und schmachtend hing an ihres Lieblings Blicken
Die junge Braut:
Sie drückten sich bei jeder deiner Fugen
Die Hand einmal,
Und hörten nicht, wenn deine Schwestern schlugen,
O Nachtigall.

Sie horchten dir, bis dumpf die Abendklocke
Des Dorfes klang,
Und Hesperus, gleich einer goldnen Flocke,
Aus Wolken drang;
Und gingen dann im Wehn der Maienkühle
Der Hütte zu,
Mit einer Brust voll zärtlicher Gefühle,
Voll süsser Ruh.

Confirmed with Gedichte von Ludewig Heinrich Christoph Hölty. Besorgt durch seine Freunde Friederich Leopold Grafen zu Stolberg und Johann Heinrich Voß. Hamburg, bei Carl Ernst Bohn. 1783, pages 11-12.

This is the version of Hölty's poem heavily reworked by Voß. For the original version, with the title Elegie auf eine Nachtigall, see below.


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

Another version of this text exists in the database.

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), [adaptation] ; composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "A la mort d’un rossinyol", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Op de dood van een nachtegaal", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "On the death of a nightingale", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Antonio Zencovich) , "Per la morte di un usignolo", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: John H. Anderson , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 150

On the death of a nightingale
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
She is gone, she who sounded out May songs,
the songstress
who, through her songs beautified the entire grove.
She is no more!
She, whose notes echoed in my soul
when, by the brook
which meandered through the bushes in the golden evening light,
I lay among the flowers!

She poured forth, from deep in her full throat,
silver notes:
at the heights of the cliffs,
the echo resounded softly after.
Rustic songs and pipers' melodies
mixed in;
the young maidens danced their rows
in the evening glow.

On the moss a youth overheard with delight
the lovely sound,
and with longing the young bride let her gaze linger
upon her beloved's face;
with each of your phrases 
they pressed hands,
and did not hear when your sisters were singing,
o nightingale!

They harkened to you until the evening bell 
rang dully in the village.
And Hesperus, like a piece of golden fluff,
emerged from the clouds;
And then I went in the fluttering of the cool May winds
to my little hut,
My breast full of tender feelings,
full of sweet rest.


  • 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: 32
Word count: 183