Wilhelm Müller: “Whither”

Excerpt, “The Poets and Poetry of Europe.” 1857. Translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Wilhelm Müller was born October 7, 1794 at Dessau. In 1812, he began his studies at Berlin, devoting himself primarily to history and philology. The Liberation War of 1813 interrupted his studies, and he was present, as a volunteer, in the Battles of Lützen, Bautzen, Hanau, and Culm. He resumed his studies in 1814. In 1819, he traveled to Italy, and, on his return, published his observations on Rome. He then became a teacher in the Gymnasium at Dessau, Court Councillor and Librarian. He died October 27, 1827. His works are, “Poems from the Papers of a Traveling Player on the Bugle-horn,” two volumes, 1824; “Songs of the Greeks,” 1821; “Lyrical Walks,” 1827. He also published a valuable collection of the poets of the 17th Century, ten volumes, Leipsic, 1822-27; and a translation Fauriel’s “Modern Greek Popular Songs.” His poems were edited by Schwab, Leipsic, 1837, who also wrote his life. (Beloved author of “Die schöne Müllerin” and “Winterreise,” among others.)




I heard a brooklet gushing

From its rocky fountain near,

Down into the valley rushing,

So fresh and wondrous clear.


I know not what came o’er me,

Nor who the counsel gave;

But I must hasten downward,

All with my pilgrim-stave;


Downward, and ever father,

And ever the brook beside;

And ever fresher murmured,

And ever clearer, the tide.


Is this the way I was going?

Whither, O brooklet, say!

Thou hast, with thy soft murmur,

Murmured my senses away.


What do I say of a murmur?

That can no murmur be;

‘Tis the water-nymphs, that are singing

Their roundelays under me.


Let them sing, my friend, let them murmur,

And wander merrily near;

The wheels of a mill are going

In every brooklet clear.