Two Poems of Friedrich Ruckert

Translated from the German by
Michael Shindler (June 2019)

Friedrich Rückert


Friedrich Rückert was a 19th century German poet who is mostly known in the anglosphere for his pioneering translations of eastern literature and related scholarship. The two poems below are relatively well known in Germany thanks to musical settings that Mahler wrote for them.



Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen

She must very well think—I am dead!


I cannot say that such a thing is untrue,

For truly my soul from the world has fled.


And now rest in a tranquil universe!

I live alone in my own holy ecstasy,

Within my rapture—within my Verse!



Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,

Mit der ich sonst viele Zeit verdorben,

Sie hat so lange nichts von mir vernommen,

Sie mag wohl glauben, ich sei gestorben!


Es ist mir auch gar nichts daran gelegen,

Ob sie mich für gestorben hält,

Ich kann auch gar nichts sagen dagegen,

Denn wirklich bin ich gestorben der Welt.


Ich bin gestorben dem Weltgetümmel,

In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied!




Um Mitternacht


At midnight

Not a single star up high

Laughed from its height

At midnight.


At midnight

I set my sight

On the deeps the darkness wrought.

Not a single twinkling thought

Lessened my plight

At midnight.


At midnight

I thought with fright

A pulse of pain like a dart

Set me alight

At midnight.


At midnight

I fought the fight,

With all my might

At midnight.


At midnight

I have, my might,

Placed into Thy care and power!

Lord! of first and final hour,

Keep lit Thy light

At midnight!



Um Mitternacht

Kein Stern vom Sterngewimmel

Hat mir gelacht

Um Mitternacht.


Um Mitternacht

Hinaus in dunkle Schranken.

Es hat kein Lichtgedanken

Mir Trost gebracht

Um Mitternacht.


Um Mitternacht

Nahm ich in acht

War angefacht

Um Mitternacht.


Um Mitternacht

Mit meiner Macht

Um Mitternacht.


Um Mitternacht

In deine Hand gegeben!

Herr! über Tod und Leben

Du hältst die Wacht

Um Mitternacht!



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Michael Shindler is a writer living in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in publications including The American Conservative, The American Spectator, National Review Online, HillRag, and Providence Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelShindler.

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