5 Short German Poems with English Translations (2023)


February 20, 2019


No matter the language, poems hold a special place in people’s hearts. The same is true with German poems. Poetry by German greats Goethe, Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Heine, and so many others, continue to be read and loved today.

If you’re looking for short German poems that you can easily memorize by heart, this article is a good place to start. We’re sharing here five short poems by great German poets, together with its English translation. Think of this as your gateway to learning--and loving--German poetry!

5 Short German Poems with English Translations (2)

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|.Der du von dem Himmel bist (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

||. Archimedes und der Schüler (Friedrich Schiller)

III. Schicke mir ein Blatt (Berthold Brecht)

IV. Es liegt der heiße Sommer (Heinrich Heine)

V. Sie liebten sich beide (Heinrich Heine)

Bonus Poem: Nicht alles, was Gold ist, funkelt (J.R.R. Tolkien)


|.Der du von dem Himmel bist (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

When you talk about German literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe easily comes to mind. A novelist, poet, playwright, among other distinctions tied to his name, Goethe is considered the greatest German literary figure.

In his lifetime, he was able to write novels, epic and lyric poetry, dramas, memoirs, and science papers.

Here is his short poem called Der du von dem Himmel bist.


5 Short German Poems with English Translations (3)


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Der du von dem Himmel bist

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!

Wanderer's Nightsong I

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!

||. Archimedes und der Schüler (Friedrich Schiller)

Renowned German poet Friedrich Schiller or Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller if you want to be more precise, had a lot on his plate. He was a celebrated poet, playwright, historian, physician, and philosopher.

He is also a good friend of the highly influential Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, and together, they made a lot of fruitful collaborations.

Here’s his short poem entitled Archimedes und der Schüler.

Archimedes und der Schüler

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.«

Archimedes and the Student

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.

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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.”

III. Schicke mir ein Blatt (Berthold Brecht)

The next poem comes from Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht or simply, Bertolt Brecht as he is known widely. A playwright, author, and poet. He is considered one of the most prominent and influential playwrights of the 20th century.

Here’s his short and intriguing poem, Schicke mir ein Blatt.

Schicke mir ein Blatt

Schicke mir ein Blatt, doch von einem Strauche

Der nicht näher als eine halbe Stunde

Von deinem Haus wächst, dann

Mußt du gehen und wirst stark, und ich

bedanke mich für das hübsche Blatt.

Send me a leaf

Send me a leaf, but from a bush

That grows at least one half hour

Away from your house, then

You must go and will be strong, and I

Thank you for the pretty leaf.

IV. Es liegt der heiße Sommer (Heinrich Heine)

German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine is well-loved for his lyric poetry that dwells on romantic themes. He was also an essayist, journalist, and a literary critic.

Here’s one of his poems.

Es liegt der heiße Sommer

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.

There lies the heat of summer

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.

V. Sie liebten sich beide (Heinrich Heine)

Our fifth poem is another one by Heinrich Heine and talks about love suppressed.

Sie liebten sich beide

Sie liebten sich beide, doch keiner

Wollt es dem andern gestehn;

Sie sahen sich an so feindlich,

Und wollten vor Liebe vergehn.

Sie trennten sich endlich und sahn sich

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Nur noch zuweilen im Traum;

Sie waren längst gestorben,

Und wußten es selber kaum.

They loved each other

They loved each other, but neither

Would admit to the other they could:

As enemies, they saw each other,

And almost died of their love.

In the end they parted and only

Saw each other sometimes in dreams:

It was long ago they had died,

But they scarcely knew it, it seems.

Bonus Poem: Nicht alles, was Gold ist, funkelt (J.R.R. Tolkien)

We’re throwing in an extra poem for you. But unlike the others previously listed above, this one was written originally in English and translated into German.

This poem, All That is Gold Does Not Glitter, was written by J.R.R. Tolkien for his popular novel The Lord of the Rings. It is also known as Song of Aragorn, and talks about a major plot of the story.

Nicht alles, was Gold ist, funkelt

Nicht alles, was Gold ist, funkelt,

Nicht jeder, der wandert, verlorn,

Das Alte wird nicht verdunkelt,

Noch Wurzeln der Tiefe erfroren.

Aus Asche wird Feuer geschlagen,

Aus Schatten geht Licht hervor;

Heil wird geborstenes Schwert,

Und König, der die Krone verlor.

All that is gold does not glitter

All that is gold does not glitter

Not all those who wander are lost

The old that is strong does not wither

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken

A light from the shadows shall spring

Renewed be the blade that was broken

The crownless again shall be king.


So there you have it, six short German poems with English translations. Which one did you like best? Share it with us in the comments!

To read more German texts, check out German Short Stories. It comes with a built-in dictionary and free audio to help you learn German vocabulary as well as hone your listening skills in German. Check it out below!

5 Short German Poems with English Translations (4)

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  4. Love to see this every day !


  5. The most i liked the 4th n 5th
    N the last, such pearls
    The 1st i liked a little tho found it too philosofical 4 a begginer like me (yeah could have sensed namely that) & the 2nd n 3rd didn't taste well to me altho remember that one abt Archimede n his student ith… but a bit differently… & the one w the leaf well is simply weird…



5 Short German Poems with English Translations? ›

Goethe is most well known for his epic poem Faust (1808), based on the legend popularized by Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus. The poem depicts a young scholar who, frustrated by the limits to his education, power, and enjoyment of life, engages the assistance of the devil at the cost of his soul.

What is the most beautiful poem from Goethe? ›

Goethe is most well known for his epic poem Faust (1808), based on the legend popularized by Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus. The poem depicts a young scholar who, frustrated by the limits to his education, power, and enjoyment of life, engages the assistance of the devil at the cost of his soul.

What is poem translation in German? ›


Who is the most famous German poet? ›

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe, the king of German poetry, was born in Frankfurt in 1749 and was a multi-talented poet, playwright, novelist, scientist and even acted as a diplomat. His work is regarded as among some of the greatest poetry in the world and is still hugely influential to this day.

What is the famous poetic work by Goethe? ›

  • The Lovely Night.
  • May Song.
  • Welcome and Farewell.
  • The Rose-Bush on The Moor.
  • The Violet.
  • The Artist's Evening Song.
  • New Love, New Life.
  • To Belinda.

What is a German poem of 11 words? ›

An elevenie (German Elfchen – Elf "eleven" and -chen as diminutive suffix to indicate diminutive size and endearment) is a short poem with a given pattern. It contains eleven words which are arranged in a specified order over five rows. Each row has a requirement that can vary.

What is the most famous of early Germanic poems? ›

Beowulf is the oldest surviving Germanic epic and the longest Old English poem; it was likely composed between 700 and 750. Other great works of Old English poetry include The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Battle of Maldon, and The Dream of the Rood.

What is the oldest German poetry? ›

The Hildebrandslied (German: [ˈhɪldəbʁantsˌliːt]; Lay or Song of Hildebrand) is a heroic lay written in Old High German alliterative verse. It is the earliest poetic text in German, and it tells of the tragic encounter in battle between a father (Hildebrand) and a son (Hadubrand) who does not recognize him.

What is the longest German word translation? ›

Officially recognised by the Duden - Germany's pre-eminent dictionary - as the longest word in German, Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung is a 36-letter, tongue-tying way of describing a rather, mundane everyday concept: motor vehicle liability insurance.

What does ode mean German? ›

noun. ode [noun] a poem written to a person or thing.

Who is the national poet of Germany? ›

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What is the most famous of the early Germanic heroic poems to survive? ›

Beowulf, the longest surviving Old English poem, is a good example of this in its own right, but it also shows signs of the rich tradition of heroic poetry that flourished after the settlement of Germanic peoples in Britain from the 5th century onwards.

Who was the greatest German literary figure? ›

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (born August 28, 1749, Frankfurt am Main [Germany]—died March 22, 1832, Weimar, Saxe-Weimar), German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, critic, and amateur artist, considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era.

Is Faust a poem? ›

Faust, Goethe's great dramatic poem in two parts, is his crowning work. Even though it is based on the medieval legend of a man who sold his soul to the devil, it actually treats modern man's sense of alienation and his need to come to terms with the world in which he lives.

What kind of poem is Faust? ›

Faust is a tragic play in two parts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two. Nearly all of Part One and the majority of Part Two are written in rhymed verse.

What did Goethe say about love? ›

“This is the true measure of love: when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will ever love in the same way after us.

What are the two short poem written by Charles Dickens? ›

Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green, That creepeth o'er ruins old! Of right choice food are his meals, I ween, In his cell so lone and cold.

Which poem has only 11 words in five lines? ›

A cinquain poem is a classic form of poetry. It is a short five-line poem, with a maximum of eleven words. It was invented by an American poet who was inspired by the concept of Haiku.

What is the 1st long poem in English? ›

Beowulf was one of the first long poems in English.

What are the shortest poems in history? ›

"Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes", also known simply as "Fleas", is a couplet commonly cited as the shortest poem ever written, composed by American poet Strickland Gillilan in the early 20th century.

What is the oldest known poem? ›

The oldest known "poems" are anonymous - such as the Rig Vedas of Hinduism, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Song of the Weaver by an unknown Egyptian of the Second Dynasty. The psalms and The Iliad are "attributed" to David and Homer, respectively - but painstaking scholarship has never given them exclusive credit.

Is Beowulf a Germanic poem? ›

Beowulf (/ˈbeɪəwʊlf/; Old English: Bēowulf [ˈbeːowuɫf]) is an Old English epic poem in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines.

What is the German style of poetry? ›

The schuttelreim is a German poetic form with the following guidelines: Couplet (or two-line) poem or stanzas. The final two words of each couplet exchange initial consonants (see example below).

What was the Golden Age Germany literature? ›

Middle High German proper runs from the beginning of the 12th century, and in the second half of the 12th century, there was a sudden intensification of activity, leading to a 60-year "golden age" of medieval German literature referred to as the mittelhochdeutsche Blütezeit (1170–1230).

Which Old English poetry has received the most attention deals with the Germanic heroic past? ›

Heroic poems

The Old English poetry which has received the most attention deals with the Germanic heroic past. The longest (3,182 lines), and most important, is Beowulf, which appears in the damaged Nowell Codex. It tells the story of the legendary Geatish hero, Beowulf.

What is the most difficult word to say in German? ›

1. Eichhörnchen (Squirrel) Although squirrel is also tough to pronounce in English, it's a classic when it comes to difficult German words to pronounce. Many English speakers struggle, and some even consider this the hardest German word to pronounce.

What does putzy mean in German? ›

Putzi. (das) baby [österr.]

How do you say hi in German slang? ›

1. Hallo – “Hello” This is the simplest way to say “hello” in German. It's a friendly, all-purpose greeting that can be used in pretty much any situation, formal or informal.

What is the German word hi? ›

The most common way of saying “hello” in German is “Hallo”. This is a casual greeting. You should only use it when greeting friends and family: Hello = Hallo.

What does Digga mean in German slang? ›

Digga is simply word you use when addressing a friend, like “mate”, “dude” or “bro”. It's older variation, Dicker, technically means “fat guy” but the most common use if the term has nothing to do with weight. What is its origin? Digga comes from Dicker, which is a very popular piece of slang originating from Hamburg.

Who is the national hero of Germany? ›

Martin Luther, German Hero | Performing the Reformation: Religious Festivals in Contemporary Wittenberg | Oxford Academic.

Why Goethe is so great? ›

He studied the psychological attributes of color and our subjective ways of seeing them, as well as complementary colors. In so doing, he improved our understanding of color vision. Besides, writing, researching, and practicing law, Goethe sat on several councils for the Duke of Saxe-Weimar during his time there.

Why is Goethe so famous? ›

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is the central figure in the German literary canon. Poet, novelist, playwright, and scientist, he is to the German language what William Shakespeare is to English-speaking cultures, only more so.

Who is the greatest German folk hero? ›

The most widely and commonly attested legends are those concerning Dietrich von Bern (Theodoric the Great), the adventures and death of the hero Siegfried/Sigurd, and the Huns' destruction of the Burgundian kingdom under king Gundahar.

What is the oldest German literature? ›

The earliest texts date from the second half of the 8th century: translation aids (glosses and glossaries) for those learning to read Latin and translations of Latin Christian texts (prayers, creeds, confessions) for use in missionary or pastoral work among the lay population.

What is the Germanic Code of Honor? ›

Much of Beowulf is devoted to articulating and illustrating the Germanic heroic code, which values strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors; hospitality, generosity, and political skill in kings; ceremoniousness in women; and good reputation in all people.

Who was a famous German storyteller? ›

Baron Münchhausen, in full Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von (baron of) Münchhausen, Münchhausen also spelled Münchausen, (born May 11, 1720, Bodenwerder, Hanover [Germany]—died February 22, 1797, Bodenwerder), Hanoverian storyteller, some of whose tales were the basis for the collection The Adventures of Baron ...

Which Germans have won the Nobel Prize for literature? ›

1910Paul von Heyse (1830–1914)Germany
1911Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949)Belgium
1912Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946)Germany
1913Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941)British India ( British Empire)
55 more rows

Who is the most successful German author of all time? ›

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Soon after, he was invited to the court of Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, becoming the Duke's friend and chief adviser. Goethe spent most of his long life in Weimar. From theatre, poetry to novels, his literary genius makes Goethe one of the most influential authors of all times.

Does Faust mean in German? ›

German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): from Middle High German fūst 'fist' presumably a nickname for a strong or pugnacious person or for someone with a club hand or other deformity of the hand.

What is the main moral of the Faust story? ›

Considered in this philosophical context, Faust's many adventures all communicate the message that to find happiness man must learn to conquer the lower elements of his nature and live constructively within the framework imposed on him.

Why is Faust a tragedy? ›

His tragedy has been described as that of "titanism," for he tries to step beyond the limitations of humanity to seek that which is not given to mankind to know or experience. Because of this his career is a constant series of disappointments and frustrations, but Faust never loses heart and continues the struggle.

Why did Faust go to heaven? ›

In the end Faust goes to heaven, because he loses only half the bet.

Why is Faust so important? ›

The Faust legend has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works that have reinterpreted it through the ages. "Faust" and the adjective "Faustian" imply sacrificing spiritual values for power, knowledge, or material gain.

What is the irony in Faust? ›

Faustus voluntarily curses God and calls upon the devil to take his soul out of his ambition to be omnipotent and essentially to be godlike. On the other hand, Mephistopheles warns Faustus of the horrors of Hell and even admits that Lucifer is less powerful than God, which is ironic for a devil to do so.

What is the famous German quote on love? ›

German Love Quotes
  • Love is blind. Liebe ist blind.
  • When you sow love, joy will grow. Wo man Liebe sät, da wächst Freude.
  • Opposites attract. Gegensätze ziehen sich an.
  • I will love you forever and always. Ich werde dich für immer und ewig lieben.

What is the more light quote by Goethe? ›

"More light, more light! Open the window so that more light may come in." Those are said to be the famous last words of Goethe, the German poet, as he lay on his deathbed.

What should I read from Goethe? ›

Goethe's best books and poems
  • The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers) ...
  • Elective Affinities. ...
  • Faust (Part One and Part Two) ...
  • Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) ...
  • Italian Journey (Italienische Reise) ...
  • Götz von Berlichingen. ...
  • Prometheus. ...
  • Torquato Tasso.
Feb 26, 2023

What are Goethe's famous last words? ›

and not a woman to kiss alight coming into my living room.

What is message of Faust by Goethe? ›

Considered in this philosophical context, Faust's many adventures all communicate the message that to find happiness man must learn to conquer the lower elements of his nature and live constructively within the framework imposed on him.

What is the original quote of Be Bold Goethe? ›

Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Why Goethe was so great? ›

He studied the psychological attributes of color and our subjective ways of seeing them, as well as complementary colors. In so doing, he improved our understanding of color vision. Besides, writing, researching, and practicing law, Goethe sat on several councils for the Duke of Saxe-Weimar during his time there.

What did Goethe say about Beethoven? ›

Beethoven and Goethe met in the Bohemian spa town of Teplitz in 1812. They did not get on. Goethe wrote to his wife that Beethoven had "an absolutely uncontrolled personality"; Beethoven wrote to his publisher that Goethe delighted far too much in the court atmosphere.

Can you learn German by reading it? ›

Reading books is a fantastic way to improve your German. In fact, it's my favourite way to learn languages! That's why I've created a series of story-based German courses to help you become fluent in German while you enjoy reading fun and entertaining stories.

Who was Goethe's best friend? ›

hereare few nobler spectacles than the friendship of two great men; and the History of Literature presents nothing comparable to the friendship of Goethe and Schiller.

Who was the last love of Goethe? ›

Ulrike, his final great love, lived to be over 90 years old, surviving Goethe by many decades. She never married. Goethe's poetry is among the world's greatest literary works and will keep him alive in our minds forever.

What is the most famous last words in history? ›

The 19 Most Famous Last Words Of All Time
  • “I am about to die or I am going to die; either expression is used.” ...
  • “I must go in, the fog is rising.” ...
  • “It is very beautiful over there.” ...
  • “Looks like a good night to fly.” ...
  • “OH WOW. ...
  • “I want nothing but death.” ...
  • “Money can't buy life.” ...
  • “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”

What is Faust most famous quote? ›

What a man knows not, he to use requires, And what he knows, he cannot use for good.

What is the main problem in Faust? ›

Faust is unsatisfied with his life as a scholar and becomes depressed. After an attempt to take his own life, he calls on the Devil for further knowledge and magic powers with which to indulge all the pleasure and knowledge of the world.


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