Karl Ludwig von Knebel: “Moonlight”

This poet was born in 1744 at Wallerstein in Franken. He was educated in Anspach, by Uz, and afterwards became an officer in Postdam. In 1774, he was appointed tutor to the Prince Constantine in Weimar, and there lived in the society of Goethe, Herder, and Wieland. He removed afterwards to Ilmenau, and finally to Jena. His death took place in 1834, at the age of ninety years. He was a distinguished lyric poet, and an excellent translator. His poems were published anonymously in 1815, at Leipsic. His translations of the Elegies of Propertius appeared in 1798, and that of Lucretius in 1821. His “Remains and Correspondence” were published by Varnhagen von Ense and Theodore Mundt at Leipsic in 1835, and republished in 1840.



Darker than the day,

Clearer than the night,

Shines the mellow moonlight.


From the rocky heights

Shapes to shimmer clad

Mistily are mounting.


Pearls of silver dew,

Soft-distilling, drop

On the silent meadows.


Might of sweetest song

Wish the gloomy woods

Philomels mingleth.


Far in ether wide

Yawns the dread abyss

Of deep worlds uncounted.


Neither eye nor ear,

Seeking, findeth here

The end of mazy thinking.


Evermore the wheel

Of unmeasured Time

Turns round all existence;


And it bears away

Swift, how swift! the prey

Of fleet-flitting mortals.


Where soft breezes blow,

Where thou seest the row

Of smooth-shining beeches;


Driven from the flood

Of the thronging  Time,

Lina’s hut receives me.


Brighter than aloft

In night’s shimmering star,

Peace with her is shining.


And the vale so sweet,

And the sweet moonlight,

Where she dwells, is sweeter.



Karl Ludwig von Knebel