Gretchen am Spinnrade Text and Translation

Composed by Schubert

Franz Schubert Memorial in Zentralfriedhof, Vienna
Franz Schubert Memorial.


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"Gretchen am Spinnrade" (or "Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel") is the name of a lied—a German ballad—which was composed in 1814 by Franz Schubert, based on a story in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust. In this great 18th century play, Mephistopheles has made a bet with God, that he can corrupt the righteous mortal Faust. Faust is lured into a pact with the devil, in which the poor scholar Faust gets whatever he wants on earth, with a promise to serve Mephistopheles in Hell. One of the things that Faust wants is Gretchen, but the romance ends in murder and infanticide. 

In Scene 18 of the first part of Goethe's two-part drama, Gretchen narrates the story of her tragic relationship with the scholar and Doctor Faust.

German Text

Meine Ruh ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich finde sie nimmer
Und nimmermehr.
Wo ich ihn nicht hab,
Ist mir das Grab,
Die ganze Welt
Ist mir vergällt.

Mein armer Kopf
Ist mir verrückt,
Mein aremer Sinn
Ist mir zerstückt.

Nach ihm nur schau ich
Zum Fenster hinaus,
Nach ihm nur geh ich
Aus dem Haus.

Sein hoher Gang,
Sein' edle Gestalt,
Seines Mundes Lächeln,
Seiner Augen Gewalt,

Und seiner Rede
Sein Händedruck,
Und ach, sein Kuss.

Mein Busen drängt
Sich nach ihm hin.
Auch dürf ich fassen
Und halten ihn,

Und küssen ihn,
So wie ich wollt,
An seinen Küssen
Vergehen sollt!

English Translation of Gretchen am Spinnrade

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth's smile,
His eyes' power,

And his mouth's
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!