Translation © by Sharon Krebs

Das Alter
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE ITA
Hoch mit den Wolken geht der Vögel Reise,
Die Erde [schläfert]1, kaum noch Astern prangen,
Verstummt die Lieder, die so fröhlich klangen,
Und trüber Winter deckt die weiten Kreise.

Die Wanduhr pickt, im Zimmer singet leise
Waldvöglein noch, so du im Herbst gefangen.
Ein Bilderbuch scheint alles, was vergangen,
Du blätterst drin, geschützt vor Sturm und Eise.

So mild ist oft das Alter mir erschienen:
Wart nur, bald taut es von den Dächern wieder
Und über Nacht hat sich die Luft gewendet.

Ans Fenster klopft ein [Bot']2 mit frohen Mienen,
Du trittst erstaunt heraus -- und kehrst nicht wieder,
Denn endlich kommt der Lenz, der nimmer endet.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Zillig: "schläft"
2 Pfitzner: "Bote"


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , title 1: "Vecchiaia", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , title 1: "Old age", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Le vieillard", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Jakob Kellner

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:27
Line count: 14
Word count: 106

Old age
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
High up with the clouds goes the journey of the birds,
The world [is sleepy]1, the asters barely flaunt [their flowers] any longer,
The songs have fallen silent, [the songs] that rang out so joyfully,
And dreary winter covers the wide expanses.

The wall clock ticks, within the room is quietly singing still
The woodland bird that you caught in the autumn.
Everything that has passed seems like a picture book,
You page through it, safe from storm and ice.

So gentle has old age often seemed to me:
Only wait, soon it shall drip again from the rooftops
And overnight the wind shall have shifted.

A messenger shall knock upon the window with a happy mien,
You shall step outside, amazed -- and never return,
For finally shall come the springtime that never ends.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Zillig: "sleeps"


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2013 by Sharon Krebs, (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: 2013-07-26 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:16
Line count: 14
Word count: 134