German Poems

The Best German Poems with English Translations

German poems are a shining example of literary brilliance because of its complex emotional weave, cultural allusions, and grammatical nuance. German poets have crafted complex storylines that are timeless and transcend borders, from the moving poetry of Goethe to the reflective pieces of Rilke. 

In this blog post, we explore the fascinating realm of German poetry in this investigation, presenting a carefully chosen collection of classics with English translations. Come along as we explore the essence of German poetry, highlighting its eternal appeal and universal themes.

German Poems + Translation

1. Der du von dem Himmel bist by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a well-known German writer. His moving love poem “Der du von dem Himmel bist” Goethe conveys in this poetic work his deep respect and love for an unidentified beloved who he believes to be an ethereal creature descending from the sky. The poem’s romantic imagery, which invokes celestial elements and celestial beauty to exalt the virtues of the beloved, is what makes it so distinctive.

Der du von dem Himmel bist,

Alles Leid und Schmerzen stillest,

Den, der doppelt elend ist,

Doppelt mit Erquickung füllest;

Ach, ich bin des Treibens müde!

Was soll all der Schmerz und Lust?

Süßer Friede,

Komm, ach komm in meine Brust!

English Translation

Thou that from the heavens art,

Every pain and sorrow stillest,

And the doubly wretched heart

Doubly with refreshment fillest,

I am weary with contending!

Why this pain and desire?

Peace descending

Come ah, come into my breast!

2. Er ist’s by Eduard Mörike

The German poet Eduard Mörike wrote the lovely and moving poem “Er ist’s.” This charming composition celebrates nature’s reawakening from its winter hibernation by painting a vibrant picture of spring’s arrival. Spring is personified by Mörike as a jovial and mischievous figure, represented by soft winds, blossoming flowers, and the jubilant chirping of birds. The language of the poem is full of life and freshness, perfectly expressing the spirit of rebirth and regeneration that comes with the approach of spring.

Frühling läßt sein blaues Band

wieder flattern durch die Lüfte;

süße, wohlbekannte Düfte

streifen ahnungsvoll das Land. 

Veilchen träumen schon, 

wollen balde kommen.

Horch, von fern ein leiser Harfenton! 

Frühling, ja du bist’s! 

Dich hab’ ich vernommen! 

English Translation

Spring lets its blue ribbon

once again flutter through the airs;

sweet, well-known scents

portentously streak the country.

Violets already dream,

want to soon come.

Listen, from far away a sweet harp!

Spring, it’s you!

I’ve heard you!

3. Archimedes und der Schüler by Friedrich Schiller

The enthralling poem “Archimedes und der Schüler” was written by the renowned German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller. The famous meeting between the little pupil and the famous Greek mathematician Archimedes is described in this narrative poem. The poem, which is set in ancient Syracuse, follows Archimedes as he guides his eager pupil through the complexities of scientific research and mathematical discoveries.

Zu Archimedes kam ein wißbegieriger Jüngling,

»Weihe mich,« sprach er zu ihm, »ein in die göttliche Kunst,

Die so herrliche Frucht dem Vaterlande getragen

Und die Mauren der Stadt vor der Sambuca beschützt!«

»Göttlich nennst du die Kunst? Sie ists,« versetzte der Weise,

»Aber das war sie, mein Sohn, eh sie dem Staat noch gedient,

Willst du nur Früchte von ihr, die kann auch die Sterbliche zeugen;

Wer um die Göttin freit, suche in ihr nicht das Weib.«

English Translation

To Archimedes came a youth desirous of knowledge.

“Tutor me,” spoke he to him, “in the most godly of arts,

Which such glorious fruit to the land of our father hath yielded

And the walls of the town from the Sambuca preserved!”

“Godly nams’t thou the art? She is’t,” responded the wise one;

“But she was that, my dear son, e’re she the state served.

Woulds’t thou but the fruits from her, these too can the mortal engender;

Who doth woo the Goddess, seek not the woman in her.”

4. Es liegt der heiße Sommer by Heinrich Heine

The moving poem “Es liegt der heiße Sommer” was written by the renowned German poet Heinrich Heine. Heine paints a realistic picture of the oppressive heat and its effects on both nature and people in this composition that evokes the spirit of a scorching summer day.

Es liegt der heiße Sommer

Auf deinen Wängelein;

Es liegt der Winter, der kalte,

In deinem Herzchen klein.

Das wird sich bei dir ändern,

Du Vielgeliebte mein!

Der Winter wird auf den Wangen,

Der Sommer im Herzen sein.

English Translation

There lies the heat of summer

On your cheek’s lovely art:

There lies the cold of winter

Within your little heart.

That will change, beloved,

The end not as the start!

Winter on your cheek then,

Summer in your heart.

5. Aus Einem April by Rilke

The enthralling poem “Aus Einem April,” or “From an April,” is written by the well-known German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke explores the transformational potential of April in this poetic work, which represents development, renewal, and the reawakening of nature following the winter’s hibernation.

Wieder duftet der Wald. 

Es heben die schwebenden Lerchen

mit sich den Himmel empor, der unseren Schultern schwer war; 

zwar sah man noch durch die Äste den Tag, wie er leer war, 

aber nach langen, regnenden Nachmittagen 

kommen die goldübersonnten 

neueren Stunden, 

vor denen flüchtend an fernen Häuserfronten 

alle die wunden Fenster furchtsam mit Flügeln schlagen. 

Dann wird es still. Sogar der Regen geht leiser

über der Steine ruhig dunkelnden Glanz.

Alle Geräusche ducken sich ganz

in die glänzenden Knospen der Reiser. 

English Translation

The forest smells again.

It raises the floating larks

which were so heavy on our shoulders, upwards into the sky;

indeed, one saw through the branches the day, how it was empty,

but after long, rainy afternoons

come the gold, sunny

newer hours,

before which the far house fronts flee

all the sore windows, fearful with wings’ attack.

Then it is still. Even the rain goes softer

over the stone’s peaceful, darkening shine.

All sounds hide away

in the shiny buds of the bushes.

Recite German Poems Today!

As our tour through the world of German poetry draws to an end, it serves as a reminder of verse’s timeless ability to cut over barriers of time, language, and culture. Every poem we have come across, from the reflective meditations of Rilke to the lyrical poetry of Goethe, has invited us to delve deeper into themes of love, nature, knowledge, and the passing of time. Each poem has been a window into the rich tapestry of human experience.

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