Schiller: “Sehnsucht”

By Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Set by Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828) , “Sehnsucht”, D. 52 (1813), published 1868; and op. 39, D. 636 (1821), published 1826. Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust, from The Lied & Art Song Texts Page


Ah, from this valley's grounds
that cold mists are pressing,
if I could only find a way out,
ah, how lucky I would feel!
Over there I glimpse pretty hills,
ever young and ever green!
If I had flight, if I had wings,
I would float over to those hills.

Harmonies I hear tinkling,
tones of sweet, heavenly peace;
and light winds bring
to me the scent of balsam.
Golden fruit I see glowing,
beckoning between dark leaves;
and the flowers that bloom there,
will never become Winter's prey.

Ah, how fine it must be to wander
there in eternal sunshine,
and the air on those heights -
O how refreshing it must be!
Yet I am stymied by the charging river,
that roars between us in rage;
its waves are so high
that my soul is horrified.

I see a small boat rocking there,
but ah! the ferryman is missing.
Go briskly to it and without hesitation:
his sails are ready.
You must believe, you must dare it,
for the Gods make no pledges.
Only a miracle can carry you
into that fair land of wonder.