by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Um Mitternacht ging ich, nicht eben...
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE SPA
Um Mitternacht ging ich, nicht eben gerne,
Klein kleiner Knabe, jenen Kirchhof hin
Zu Vaters Haus, des Pfarrers; Stern an Sterne
Sie leuchteten doch alle gar zu schön;
    Um Mitternacht.

Wenn ich dann ferner in des Lebens Weite
Zur Liebsten mußte, mußte, weil sie zog,
Gestirn und Nordschein über mir im Streite,
Ich gehend, kommend Seligkeiten sog;
    Um Mitternacht.

Bis dann zu letzt des vollen Mondes Helle
So klar und deutlich mir ins [Finstere]1 drang,
Auch der Gedanke willig, sinnig, schnelle
Sich ums Vergangne wie ums Künftige schlang;
    Um Mitternacht.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Hiller: "Finst're"


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 (Emily Ezust) , "At midnight", copyright © 2013
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "À minuit", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (José Miguel Llata) , "A medianoche", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Johann Winkler

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 15
Word count: 90

At midnight
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
At midnight I would go, not very happily,
A small, small boy, across that churchyard
to Father's house - the parson's; star upon star,
they shone so beautifully, every one of them,
  At midnight.

When, later then and further into the vastness of life,
I had to, had to, go to my beloved, for I was drawn to her;
the stars battling with the Northern lights above me,
I inhaled sheer bliss as I came and went,
  At midnight.

Until, at last, the light of the full moon
sank clearly and precisely into my darkness
and my thoughts, willingly and sensibly, quickly
entwined both past and future at once,
  At midnight.

With thanks to Bertram Kottmann for his helpful suggestions.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2013 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: 2013-09-20
Line count: 15
Word count: 111