Schubert’s Wanderers consists of English translations of the poems of Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin and the German texts as set by Schubert. The German texts are taken from Series 20 (Leider und Gesänge) of Franz Schubert’s Werke, Kritisch durchgesehene Gesammtausgabe, Brietkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, 1895.
Schubert’s Wanderers includes a Creative Commons Licence which entitles the purchaser of this book to use and adapt the translations and synopses in any context and in any media, commercial or noncommercial. The German texts are in the public domain.
About the author
Barry Mitchell was born in Belfast in 1958. He studied music at Queen’s University Belfast where after completing a first degree he studied for an MA in composition. He is also a graduate of The Open University. He has taught music for several colleges and universities in the UK including The Open University and Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. He has worked as a music examiner for Edexcel Foundation and International Baccalaureate Organisation and has been a reviewer for The Times Higher Education Supplement. He is currently a freelance teacher and lives in Twickenham in Greater London.
Some artists who have used the translations in Schubert’s Wanderers
Thomas Taube’s video Sorry That I Asked is currently (i.e. on 1 February 2014) a work in progress. The translation of Die Nebensonnen from Schubert’s Wanderers is going to be used near the end of the video. The video can be viewed here: http://tv.orf.at/orf3/stories/2587663/ and Thomas Taube’s website is www.thomastaube.de
Music for a While
Music for a while is a Norwegian jazz quintet headed by cabaret diva Tora Augestad. Their album Graces that Refrain (Grappa Records, 2012) delivers chamber music/jazz transformations of classical songs. The translation in Schubert’s Wanderers of Der Leiermann from Schubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise is featured in the CD booklet.
Sarah Walker at Oxford Lieder Festival’s “Schubert Project 2014”
World renowned mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker CBE used the translation of Winterreise from Schubert’s Wanderers at her Oxford Lieder Festival masterclass on 16 October 2014 at St. Columba’s Church, Alfred St. Oxford. See: http://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/events/1280
Schubert’s Wanderers is available on Amazon.co.uk and on most Amazon sites worldwide.
SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
PART I SCHUBERT’S DIE WINTERREISE: ENGLISH TRANSLATION
PART II SCHUBERT’S DIE SCHÖNE MÜLLERIN: ENGLISH TRANSLATION
PART III SCHUBERT’S DIE WINTERREISE: GERMAN TEXT
PART IV: SCHUBERT’S DIE SCHÖNE MÜLLERIN: GERMAN TEXT
PART V: CREATIVE COMMONS LICENCE
PART I SCHUBERT’S DIE WINTERREISE: ENGLISH TRANSLATION can be read in its entirety below.
The translation of Die Winterreise can also be downloaded in pdf format: Cat_SCHWINT02 pdf
PART I SCHUBERT’S DIE WINTERREISE: ENGLISH TRANSLATION
Chapter 1 Introduction to Schubert’s Die Winterreise
An English translation of Schubert’s Die Winterreise, settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller and a synopsis of the story told by the poems.
The twenty-four poems of Die Winterreise were written in 1821 and 1822. The first twelve poems were published separately in 1823 and the cycle was published in full in 1824. Schubert made his settings of the poems in 1827.
These translations are in free verse and are designed to introduce readers to Schubert’s song cycle. I have ignored the original metrical scheme but have tried to make the translations as accurate as possible. I have also tried to use a vocabulary that suggests Romantic poetry.
Die Winterreise is primarily about feelings and atmosphere, but there is nevertheless a story, albeit told in a fragmented narrative. A young man, the hero (or anti-hero) of the poems, arrives in an idyllic town in May (Good Night). There he befriends a family of mother, father and daughter and is invited to live with them (Good Night). He falls in love with the daughter and his love is returned, or so he is led to believe (Feeling Numb). However, the daughter rejects him to marry a wealthy suitor with the approval of her parents (The Weathervane). It is now winter and the hero leaves his adopted home in the dead of night after writing a farewell message to his beloved (Good Night). As he leaves the town crows shower him with snow from the roofs (Looking Back) and he begins a painful journey, constantly tortured by memories of his past happiness (Frozen Tears, On the River, The Watercourse). On his journey he is joined by a raven, possibly symbolic of a death wish (The Raven). Eventually he arrives at another town (Solitude) where it seems he stays for some time as he writes of the post arriving there (The Post). The song cycle ends with a particularly bleak image. An organ-grinder or hurdy-gurdy man has a pitch near the town where he plies his trade ignored by the townspeople and harassed by dogs. It is ironic that in this final poem the poet asks if the hurdy-gurdy man will set the poet’s songs to music, an invitation that was ultimately accepted by Schubert.
No. 1. Good Night (Gute Nacht), No. 2. The Weathervane (Die Wetterfahne), No. 3. Frozen Tears (Gefror’ne Thränen), No. 4. Feeling Numb (Erstarrung), No. 5. The Linden Tree (Der Lindenbaum)
Die Winterreise No. 1. Good Night (Gute Nacht)
As a stranger I arrived
As a stranger I shall leave
I remember a perfect day in May
How bright the flowers
How cool the breeze
The maiden spoke of love
The mother had kind words
But now the world is dreary
With a winter path before me
I can’t choose the season
To depart from this place
I won’t delay or ponder
I must begin my journey now
The bright moon lights my path
It will guide me on my road
I see the snow-covered meadow
I see where deer have trod
A voice within says – go now
Why linger and delay?
Leave the dogs to bay at the moon
Before her father’s gate
For love is a thing of changes
God has made it so
Ever-changing from old to new
God has made it so
So love delights in changes
Good night, my love, good night
Love is a thing of changes
Good night, my love, good night
I’ll not disturb your sleep
But I’ll write above your door
A simple farewell message
Good night, my love, good night
These are the last words spoken
Soon I’ll be out of sight
A simple farewell message
Good night, my love, good night
Die Winterreise No. 2. The Weathervane (Die Wetterfahne)
The wind is turning the weathervane
On the roof of my sweetheart’s house
Round and round it mocks and teases
Teases and mocks my sighs and my tears
If only I’d seen this fickle symbol
Before I entered that house
I would not have hoped so much
Of one inconstant, though so fair
For Nature plays with our hearts
As the wind plays with the vane
What do they care if my heart is dying?
Their child will be a wealthy bride
Die Winterreise No. 3. Frozen Tears (Gefror’ne Thränen)
Some frozen tears
Cling to my face
Have I really been crying
And not noticed them flow?
Teardrops, heavy teardrops
What chills you through
What turns you into ice
Like drops of early dew?
From this poor bosom tears flow
Flow with burning heat
Flow enough to melt
The winter frost and snow
Die Winterreise No. 4. Feeling Numb (Erstarrung)
I look for traces of her footsteps
I look for them in vain
Where leaning on my arm
She crossed the bright green field
I’ll kiss the wintry carpet
And with my scalding tears
Dissolve the freezing snow
I’ll bring that field to life again
Do flowers still bloom?
Is the grass still green?
All the flowers have died
The grass is withered and thin
Earth, can you remind me
Of yesterday’s happiness
When my sorrows fall silent
Who will speak to me of her?
It seems my heart is frozen
Her face etched on the ice
If my heart ever melts
Her face will fade away
Die Winterreise No. 5. The Linden Tree (Der Lindenbaum)
Before the doorway is a well
A linden tree stands there
Many times I’ve sought its shade
A place of rest and pleasant dreams
When dreaming there I carved
Some words of love upon the bark
Both joy and sorrow
Drew me to that shady spot
But now I must wander
Through this blackest night
In darkness I passed this tree
But couldn’t bear to look
I heard the branches rustle
As if they spoke to me
“Come to me my old friend
Come, find peace with me”
Cruel winds were blowing
Coldly cutting my face
My hat was blown behind me
I quickly sped on my way
I’m now many miles distant
From that dear old linden tree
But I still hear it whisper
“Come – find peace with me”
No. 6. The Watercourse (Wasserfluth), No. 7. On the River (Auf dem Flusse), No. 8. Looking Back (Rückblick), No. 9. Will O’ the Wisp (Irrlicht), No. 10. Rest (Rast)
Die Winterreise No. 6. The Watercourse (Wasserfluth)
My tears have made
Deep marks in the snow
The cold flakes
Absorbing all my sorrows
When the grass begins to grow
And feels a warmer breeze
The swelling ice begins to break
And the sun melts the snow
Snow, you know of my yearnings
Tell me, where do you go?
Take my tears with you
As you flow to the stream
Flow through the town together
Go where the road leads
You’ll feel my hot tears
As you pass where my loved-one lives
Die Winterreise No. 7. On the River (Auf dem Flusse)
River, once so restless
Flowing fast and bright
Why are you now so still
Lifeless, chilled and silent
A hard and icy case
Is now your winter prison
You lie cold and dreary
Pressed fast upon the earth
I’ll write upon your cover
With a pointed stone
My loved one’s name
A day and a time
The day when I first met her
The day when my love began
I’ll draw a broken ring
Around that name and date
Does my heart see
Your image in this river?
Does it swell and quiver
In its own icy case?
Die Winterreise No. 8. Looking Back (Rückblick)
It feels like I’m walking on fire
Though underfoot is ice and snow
I’ve hardly time to draw breath
So keen am I to leave that town
Every stone has made me stumble
In my haste to get away
From every roof I’ve passed
Crows have showered me with snow
How different when I arrived
How well you greeted me then
Your shining happy streets
Where the lark and nightingale sang
A linden tree whispered in the breeze
The murmur of the sparkling stream
Then the spell cast upon my heart
From a beautiful maiden’s eyes
Now when I think of that day
I’m tempted to turn and look back
To retrace my weary way
To stand before my loved one’s house
Die Winterreise No. 9. Will O’ the Wisp (Irrlicht)
Will O’ the Wisp has led me
Deep into a rocky maze
I look from right to left
I seek a path but there is none
I’m about to lose my way
All paths appear the same
Our joys and sorrows are no more real
Than this teasing phantom light
Through the gorge where the river rushed
I’ll calmly travel on
Every river flows to the sea
Every sorrow will come to an end
Die Winterreise No. 10. Rest (Rast)
At last I rest and only now
I feel weary
Nothing could tire me
While I pressed on
Over desolate winter paths
I was carried along as if on wings
It was too cold to stop
The winter wind helped me on my way
A helping hand on my back
No. 11. Spring Dreams (Frühlingstraum), No. 12. Solitude (Einsamkeit), No.13. The Post (Die Post), No. 14. The Grey Head (Der greise Kopf), No. 15. The Raven (Die Krähe)
Die Winterreise No. 11. Spring Dreams (Frühlingstraum)
I had a dream of bright flowers
Bursting forth in May
I had a dream of a grassy meadow
With the sound of endless birdsong
When the cock crowed
I awoke in my bed
Eveything was cold and dismal
The ravens croaked overhead
Who drew those leafy flowers
Upon the window pane?
Why do you mock the dreamer
Whose garden blooms in winter?
I had a dream of a lovely maiden
And of the love we shared
There were sweet kisses in the dream
And many blissful caresses
When the cock crowed
I started from my dreams
Now I’m sitting alone
With a memory of that dream
My eyes are closing again
Once more my heart begins to throb
Will the leaves ever turn green?
Will I ever embrace my sweetheart?
Die Winterreise No. 12. Solitude (Einsamkeit)
Dark clouds are drifting
Across the bright blue sky
Soft breezes gently sigh
In the dark forest
But in moody silence
I walk with sluggish feet
Alone and unnoticed
In this busy street
Why is the air so tranquil!
Why is the world so fair!
Even in the raging storm
I never felt such despair
Die Winterreise No. 13. The Post (Die Post)
The post-horn rings
Rings through the streets
Heart, where do these feelings come from?
The post has no news for me
So heart, why do you grieve?
The post has arrived
From the town
Where once, my heart
I loved so dearly
I’ll ask the postman, Heart
If he has been to that town
And if he has seen
The fair one you loved
Die Winterreise No. 14. The Grey Head (Der greise Kopf)
A white sheen covers my head
A frost has done its work
I imagine I am old and grey
A pleasant dream for me
But then comes the thaw
My hair returns to black
Once more I am young
And peace is far away
They say one night of torment
Can make black hair turn white
The frost leaves my hair untouched
I have wandered but must wander more
Die Winterreise No. 15. The Raven (Die Krähe)
A raven has flown beside me
Since the day I left the town
Raven, bird of ill-omen
Will you ever leave me?
Do you stalk me
In the hope I will be yours?
My journey can’t last much longer
My strength begins to fail
Raven, surely you will be true
Until death overtakes me
No. 16. The Last Hope (Letzte Hoffnung), No. 17. In the Village (Im Dorfe), No. 18. The Stormy Morning (Der stürmische Morgen), No. 19. Illusion (Täuschung), No. 20. The Guide-Post (Der Wegweiser)
Die Winterreise No. 16. The Last Hope (Letzte Hoffnung)
A few gaudy leaves remain
On the winter branches
I shelter beneath
I begin to dream
I stare at one leaf
I stake my hopes on it
If the breeze moves it
I shiver and shake with fear
If the leaf falls
And flutters down
My hopes will fall with it
My heart will sink too
My last hope will be gone
Die Winterreise No. 17. In the Village (Im Dorfe)
The watchdogs are barking
And straining at their chains
The people are sleeping
And the village is at rest
What dreams they have
What joyful pleasures
Of good, of evil
According to their souls
But in the light of morning
Their treasures are all gone
They’ve had their fill
But hope in vain their dreams are real
Bark long, bark loud
My brave guards
The world sleeps
But gives me no rest!
My dreams have ended in tears
Why should I linger here?
Die Winterreise No. 18. The Stormy Morning (Der stürmische Morgen)
A storm has ripped
The grey robe of the sky
The clouds fly apart
In wild disorder
A flame reaches out and grasps the earth
The scene without, the soul within
One hot and fiery
The other cold and bleak
Die Winterreise No. 19. Illusion (Täuschung)
I see a flickering guiding light
To left and right, now here, now there
I’ll follow this light, though I know
It will mislead and tease me
Those who are lost, as I am
Will trust a friendly guiding light
That in the darkness, ice and snow
Shows the path to a welcoming house
I see a fair face within
This trickery is my gain
Die Winterreise No. 20. The Guide-Post (Der Wegweiser)
Why should I leave the beaten path
Where the other wanderers tread?
Why do I seek hidden tracks
On unmarked mountain snow?
I have injured no one
No need to shun mankind
It is only foolishness
That makes me seek the wild
At every crossing there is a post
It points towards the town
I will travel far beyond them
I’ll seek rest, but find none
I see a guide-post standing
Before my face it stands
It points me to a path
One no wanderer can retrace
No. 21. The Wayside Inn (Das Wirthshaus), No. 22. Courage (Muth), No. 23. The Mock Suns (Die Nebensonnen), No. 24. The Organ-Grinder (Der Leiermann)
Die Winterreise No. 21. The Wayside Inn (Das Wirthshaus)
I’ve laboured upon my journey
A path to this lonely graveyard
I was looking for a welcoming inn
To rest my weary head
These green funeral wreaths
You could be the sign
That tells the tired traveller
That a cool retreat awaits
Among all your rooms
Do you have one for me?
I’m tired and ready to rest
Unwelcoming inn, do you deny me shelter?
Die Winterreise No. 22. Courage (Muth)
Snow falls on my cheek
I carelessly brush it away
If my heart speaks of its troubles
I’ll drown it out with a happy song
I won’t listen to the heart’s complaints
I won’t listen to its fears
I’m content to wander
Through the wind and the snow
I have my trusty staff
I have my cheerful song
We will journey on together
Die Winterreise No. 23. The Mock Suns (Die Nebensonnen)
I saw three suns in the bright cold sky
I stared at them long and hard
Unmoving they stared back at me
As if they would last forever
You three do not belong to me
Go and shine on others
I used to have three suns
But the best two have gone
If the third goes out
I will welcome the darkness
Die Winterreise No. 24. The Organ-Grinder (Der Leiermann)
Up behind the village
The organ-grinder has his pitch
He stands barefoot or shuffles
On the frozen ground
With stiff fingers
He coaxes out the sound
His saucer is empty
Gifts for him are rare
No one listens to him
Or looks at him, or cares
Dogs snarl at him
Dogs chase him
But he wears a smile
He shows no fear or disappointment
But turns the handle round and round
Shall I join you on your journey?
Will you play the music to my songs?
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Thank you for posting things like this in your blog!
I sing and often go online to check for translations. (and try to help people myself in my own blog).
Go music, opera to the people! :D
Caffarelli is a name with a great tradition for a singer! I enjoyed visiting your blog and I see that you visited Liverpool, a city I know well.
Thank you for your visit! :D Yes Caffarelli is a great name with history. And yes, I loved Liverpool, very interesting place. (Santa Cecilia I see?)
Yes, St Cecilia is the logo of barrymitchellmusic.com.
i Love your post… i am new English teacher, this is very helpfully for me.
I love these. May I use them for a student recital, with appropriate crediting? Please contact me at the email address posted if you are willing to give permission, I will be happy to give you more information about the venue.
Hi, I have a query, just wondering if you have an email address I can send to?
Yes you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
I am going to use this translation in an essay for a specialization course. Very smart but elegant, thanks!
That’s great, thanks.
I find myself feeling sorely tempted to do a post of Brigitte Fassbaender’s version of this great song cycle, but I am not yet certain that I have the temerity to pull it off because of the sheer size and scope of it. However, should I manage to do it, I would very much like to use your fine translations of Muller’s poems. If you give your permission I will surely credit you by name as well as post the url to your site.
If you refuse I will accept you decision in good grace, as having been made for very good reasons.
By all means use my versions of the poems and I am delighted that you are interested in using them in this way. I would look forward to being informed of how you are getting on with this project.
Next year I plan to release an e-book which will have the Winterreise poems and the Die Schone Mullerin poems in both English and German versions. I might also include a royalty free licence for performance and quotation.
I look forward to hearing from you again.
How very kind and generous you are. I have to admit I never expected you to grant my request. I will begin working on this hefty post – my posts tend to run away with me – and if and when I get it done I will be sure to let you know!
With my sincere thanks and very best wishes to you. I am still a little overwhelmed….
I look forward to hearing from you – keep in touch.
I most assuredly will, and Thanks once more. I am scoping out images now!
This will be a gargantuan post – I might have to break it into two parts.
I just completed part 1 of my post. Would you please be so kind as to let me know if you think I should add, subtract or modify anything?
Part 2 will have much the same format….
Thank you again, and Kindest Regards.
That looks great – I love the illustrations, an excellent post, I hope you get loads of viewers.
Barry – you are such a generous man. Thank you.
Part two is also done. It took me 20 straight hours to put everything together – searching for pictures mostly. I decided to leave out the German lyrics – the post would have been too bulky otherwise.
Thank you for your kind words – and for making my posts possible. The whole thing would have been utterly impossible without you.
And Complements of the Season to you as well.
Sincere Best Wishes.
I most assuredly will.
I will credit you in the title of the post for your translations, right along with Schubert, Müller and Fassbaender!
I think this project will be too unwieldy for a single post, so I am considering doing it in two parts.
Would I be imposing on your generosity too much if I were to use your text and tags as well?
Well, actually I am asking you now!
Once again, I will credit you in the title for text and translation, and at the bottom of the post I will mention the tags, and include an url for your blog.
And once again, I will be in full accord with you if you were to refuse to grant yet another enormous favour.
Barry- I like you translation.
I`m German and just studied both, the German version and your English one, because we are working on this masterpiece in our evening classes. By accident I found your blog and I like reading it.
Maybe the translation can be considered to work with….
I’m glad you like my version of the poems – I say version rather than translation because this is a free re-writing and interpretation of the original rather than a translation. I wish you all the best with your study of Schubert. I have more Schubert posts planned in the near future.
Lovely version. Why do you call it blank verse, though? That means unrhymed iambic pentameters — like much of Shakespeare’s theatrical work.
Yes that is a good point I should call it “free verse”. I would change it but I have a problem with this post because for some reason if I try to edit it the formatting goes crazy, so I will leave your comment as a comment.
Remembering Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Thank you for translation
Thanks for the positive comment on Theory of Music!
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The 5th line, “Das Mädchen sprach von Liebe.” sprach = speak, and liebe = love. So the normal translation would seem to be “The maiden spoke of love.” So, how do you figure it translates as “the maiden had a friendly smile”? Interpretation is one thing, but this seems to a complete rewriting of the text. Why would you do this?
This version of the poems is a rewriting of the translations by Theodore Baker and the line you mention is actually unchanged from Baker’s original. I imagine Baker did it this way because it fitted well with the music but as you say, it is quite different from the original.
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Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it,
you can be a great author. I will make sure to bookmark your
blog and will often come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you to continue your
great job, have a nice morning!
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I found your brilliant article via a young blogger’s most recent exercise http://throwcase.com/2014/08/25/my-pink-schubert-canary/ and I can’t thank you both enough!
Schubert has been a constant companion since I first discovered him as a school girl in the 50’s and the Winterreise is my greatest love. I’ve been lucky enough to perform it with many of my generation’s greatest pianists, Graham Johnson and Imogen Cooper among them, and later this year I’ll be conducting a Winterreise Masterclass as part of the Oxford Lieder Festival’s monumental Schubert Project. I would very much like to use your ‘free verse’ interpretation as a basis for the audience and indeed for the young participants, many of whom I expect will already be familiar with it – it is just perfect! Appropriate accreditation of course.
PS I have my Kindle version now but could not immediately see an opportunity to purchase a hard copy or a Word version which I would prefer – are either of these option available?
Thank you for your comments which I am very pleased to see. I would be delighted for you to use my versions of the Winterreise poems in your notes etc for the concert. Please send an email to email@example.com and I will send you a Word document of the book Schubert’s Wanderers at no charge. It would be great to have accreditation for this so if you send me details of the event I will publicise it on my website. I’m glad you think my versions are suitable for younger audiences as they were more or less written with that kind of audience in mind. Most of the people who visit my website are high school students from the USA so I try to address that demographic if possible. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks again for your feedback.
Many thanks for your reply Barry and apologies for delay in responding – have been away having a few days off! Will email you everything you mention over the weekend.
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Wonderful job ! Thanks for the English Translation..
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I’m posting this to let you know that people are still reading your fine translation of Die Winterreise, and are grateful for it. I’m neither a teacher nor a performer of music (although I was the latter in my youth), just a lover of music with only a rudimentary knowledge of German (better in my youth). Danke!
Soll ich mit dir gehn?
Willst zu meinen Liedern
Deine Leier drehn?
you should have done the first verse of this last stanza of Der Leiermann more justice with a literal translation presenting the two different option of translating Wunderlicher as “wondrous” or “strange/bizarre”, giving the reader the final choice about how they feel about this old man and the meaning of the whole chapter
Thanks for your comment which I am sure readers will find useful.
Thank you! This is another way to think of the wonderful poetry and music written for it.
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nice poem, I like poems, my father is also a writer so i am a berth listener.
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English translation of Schubert’s Die Winterreise (1821-1822)
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Thank you for this, am a lover of Schubert and this means so much to me,God bless you, also you can visit my site to check out my own music theory reviews, thank you soooo much for this, and continue sharing the love!!!
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One of my favorite pieces of music. I hope to one day perform it in its entirety.
It must be a “misprint”, but why is the translation of song 10 “Rest” incomplete?