by Friedrich Hölderlin (1770 - 1843)
Translation © by Walter A. Aue

Da ich ein Knabe war
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT ENG ENG FRE
Da ich ein Knabe war,
rettet' ein Gott mich oft
vom Geschrei und der Rufe der Menschen,
da spielt' ich sicher und gut
mit den Blumen des Hains,
und die Lüftchen des Himmels
spielten mit mir.

Und wie du das Herz
der Planzen erfreust,
wenn sie entgegen dir
die zarten Arme strecken,
so hast du mein Herz erfreut,
Vater Helios!
und, wie Endymion,
war ich dein Liebling,
heilige Luna!

O all ihr Treuen
freundlichen Götter!
Daß ihr wüßtet,
wie euch meine Seele geliebt!

Zwar damals rief ich noch nicht
Euch mit Nahmen, auch ihr
Nanntet mich nie, wie die Menschen sich nennen
Als kennten sie sich.

Doch kannt' ich euch besser,
Als ich je die Menschen gekannt
Ich verstand die Stille des Aethers
Der Menschen Worte verstand ich nie.

Mich erzog der Wohllaut
des säuselnden Hains,
und lieben lernt' ich
unter den Blumen.

Im Arme der Götter wuchs ich groß.

B. Britten sets stanzas 1-3, 5-7
A. Gabryś sets stanzas 1, 6-7

About the headline (FAQ)


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 joventut", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "The youth", copyright ©
  • ENG English (Walter A. Aue) , "When I was still a child...", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Stéphane Goldet) (Pierre de Rosamel) , copyright © 2014, (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 10:01:33
Line count: 33
Word count: 150

When I was still a child...
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
When I was still a child, 
a God did often protect me
from the shouts and whips of the human; 
safe and contented I played 
with flowers under the trees 
and the breezes of heaven 
played there with me.

Like you delight 
the hearts of the plants 
when they stretch out to you 
slender their arms,

thus you delighted my heart, 
Father Helios! and, like Endymion, 
I was your darling, 
hallowèd Luna!

Oh, all Ye faithful, 
genial Gods! 
If only you'd know 
how my soul did adore you.

Granted, by then, I did not 
call You by name; You, too, 
never did name me - like humans do name 
as if they knew one another.

Yet I knew You much better 
than I ever knew humans. 
I grasped the silence of Ether; 
the words of man I did not.

Brought up was I 
by the harmony of the forest, 
and I learned how to love 
amongst all the blossoms.

Cradled by Gods I grew tall.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2013 by Walter A. Aue, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Walter A. Aue.  Contact: waue (AT) dal (DOT) ca

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Text added to the website: 2013-09-24 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:20
Line count: 32
Word count: 165