Category Archives: Matthias Claudius

Matthias Claudius: “Night-Song”

Excerpt, “German Lyric Poetry:  A Collection of Songs and Ballads.”  Translated from the Best German Lyric Poets, with Notes by Charles Timothy Brooks.  1863.

Matthias Claudius: “The Moon”

.The Moon.


Matthias Claudius: “Rhine-Wine”

Excerpt, Macray:  “Stray Leaves, including Translations from the Lyric Poets of Germany.”  London:  1827.
This amiable man and agreeable writer was born in 1740, at Reinfeldt in Holstein, near Lübeck.  He lived for some time in Wandsbeck.  In 1776, he was appointed to a public office in Darmstadt, but returned to Wandsbeck the next year.  He was a frequent contributor to the “Wandsbeck Messenger.”  He died in 1818.  A collection of his works, completed in 1812, was published under the title of “Asmus omnia sua secum portans , or The Collective Works of the Wandsbeck Messenger.”  A new edition in four volumes was published in Hamburg in 1838.  The most prominent characteristic of Claudius, as a writer, is a certain simplicity and hearty good-humor.  He wrote excellent popular songs, simple ballads, fables, epigrams, tales and dialogues. 
Claudius’s poem Death and the Maiden was used by composer Franz Schubert in 1817 for one of his most celebrated songs, which in turn became the basis for the 1824 string quartet of the same name.



When laurel wreaths the glass’ vintage mellow,

And drink it gaily dry!

Through furthest Europe, know, my worthy fellow,

For such in vain ye’ll try.


Nor Hungary nor Poland e’er could boast it;

And as for Gallia’s vine,

Saint Veit, the Ritter, if he choose, may toast it, –

We, Germans, love the Rhine.


Our fatherland we thank for such a blessing,

And many more beside;

And many more, though little show possessing,

Well worth our love and pride.


Not everywhere the vine bedecks our border,

As well the mountains show,

That harbour in their bosoms foul disorder;

Not worth their room below.


Thuringia’s hills, for instance, are aspiring

To rear a juice like wine;

But that is all; nor mirth nor songs inspiring,

It breathes not of the vine.


And other hills, with buried treasure glowing,

For wine are far too cold;

Though iron ores and cobalt there are growing,

And chance some paltry gold.


The Rhine!  The Rhine!

There grow the gay plantations!

O, hallowed be the Rhine!

Upon his banks are viewed the rich potations

Of this consoling wine.


Drink to the Rhine!  And every coming morrow

Be mirth and music thine!

And when we meet a child of care and sorrow,

We’ll send him to the Rhine.


matthias claudius.