Die Schöne Müllerin
Franz Schubert

Text by Wilhelm Müller
English Translation © Richard Wigmore

1. Wandering

To wander is the miller’s delight;

to wander!

A poor miller he must be

who never thought of wandering,

of wandering.

We have learnt it from the water,

from the water!

It never rests, by day or night,

but is always intent on wandering,

the water.

We can see it in the wheels too,

the wheels!

They never care to stand still

but turn tirelessly the whole day long,

the wheels.

The stones themselves, heavy as they are,

the stones!

They join in the merry dance and seek to move still faster,

the stones.

O wandering, my delight,

O wandering!

Master and mistress,

let me go my way in peace,

and wander.

 

2. Where to?

I heard a little brook babbling

from its rocky source,

babbling down to the valley,

so bright, so wondrously clear.

I know not what came over me,

nor who prompted me,

but I too had to go down

with my wanderer’s staff.

Down and ever onwards,

always following the brook

as it babbled ever brighter

and ever clearer.

Is this, then, my path?

O brook, say where it leads.

With your babbling

you have quite befuddled my mind.

Why do I speak of babbling?

That is no babbling.

It is the water nymphs singing

as they dance their round far below.

Let them sing, my friend; let the brook babble

and follow it cheerfully.

For mill-wheels turn

in every clear brook.

 

3. Halt!

I see a mill gleaming

amid the alders;

the roar of mill-wheels

cuts through the babbling and singing.

Welcome, welcome,

sweet song of the mill!

How inviting the house looks, 

how sparkling its windows!

And how brightly the sun 

shines from the sky. 

Now, dear little brook,

is this what you meant?

 

4. Thanksgiving to the brook

Is this what you meant,

my babbling friend?

Your singing, your murmuring – 

is this what you meant?

‘To the maid of the mill!’ 

This is your meaning; 

have I understood you? 

‘To the maid of the mill!’

Did she send you,

or have you entranced me?

I should like to know this, too: 

did she send you?

However it may be,

I yield to my fate:

what I sought I have found, 

however it may be.

I asked for work;

now I have enough

for hands and heart; 

enough, and more besides.

 

5. After Work

If only I had a thousand 

arms to wield!

If only I could drive

the rushing wheels!

If only I could blow like the wind 

through every wood,

and turn

every millstone,

so that the fair maid of the mill 

would see my true love.

Ah, how weak my arm is!

What I lift and carry,

what I cut and hammer –

any apprentice could do the same. 

And there I sit with them, in a circle, 

in the quiet, cool hour after work, 

and the master says to us all:

‘I am pleased with your work.’ 

And the sweet maid

bids us all goodnight.

 

6. The Inquisitive One

I ask no flower,

I ask no star;

none of them can tell me

what I would so dearly like to hear.

For I am no gardener,

and the stars are too high;

I will ask my little brook

if my heart has lied to me.

O brook of my love,

how silent you are today!

I wish to know just one thing,

one small word, over and over again.

One word is ‘yes’,

the other is ‘no’;

these two words contain for me

the whole world.

O brook of my love,

how strange you are.

I will tell no one else:

say, brook, does she love me?

 

7. Impatience

I should like to carve it in the bark of every tree, 

I should like to inscribe it on every pebble,

sow it in every fresh plot

with cress seed that would quickly reveal it;

I should like to write it on every scrap of white paper: 

my heart is yours, and shall ever remain so.

I should like to train a young starling

until it spoke the words, pure and clear; 

until it spoke with the sound of my voice, 

with my heart’s full, ardent yearning.

then it would sing brightly at her window: 

my heart is yours, and shall ever remain so.

I should like to breathe it to the morning winds, 

and whisper it through the rustling grove.

If only it shone from every flower; if only fragrant 

scents could bear it to her from near and far. 

Waves, can you drive only mill-wheels?

My heart is yours, and shall ever remain so.

I should have thought it would show in my eyes, 

could be seen burning on my cheeks,

could be read on my silent lips; I should have 

thought my every breath would proclaim it to her; 

but she notices none of these anxious signs:

my heart is yours, and shall ever remain so.

 

8. Morning greeting

Good morning, fair maid of the mill! 

Why do you quickly turn your head away 

as if something was wrong?

Does my greeting annoy you so deeply? 

Does my glance upset you so much?

If so, I must go away again.

O just let me stand far off

and gaze at your beloved window 

from the far distance!

Little blonde head, come out! 

Come forth from your round gates, 

blue morning stars.

Little eyes, drunk with slumber, 

little flowers, saddened by the dew, 

why do you fear the sun?

Has night been so good to you

that you close and droop, and weep 

for its silent bliss?

Shake off now the veil of dreams 

and rise up, refreshed and free, 

to God’s bright morning!

The lark is trilling in the sky, 

and from the depths of the heart 

love draws grief and care.

 

9. The Miller's flowers

Many small flowers grow by the brook, 

gazing from bright blue eyes.

The brook is the miller’s friend,

and my sweetheart’s eyes are bright blue, 

therefore they are my flowers.

Right under her window

I will plant the flowers.

There you shall call to her when all is silent, 

when she lays down her head to sleep,

for you know what I wish to say.

And when she closes her eyes 

and sleeps in sweet repose, 

then whisper to her as a dream: 

‘Forget me not!’

That is what I wish to say.

And when, early in the morning, she opens 

the shutters, then gaze up lovingly;

the dew in your eyes

shall be the tears

that I will weep upon you.

 

10. Shower of tears

We sat together in such harmony 

beneath the cool canopy of alders, 

and in harmony gazed down

into the rippling brook.

The moon had appeared too, 

and then the stars.

They gazed down in harmony 

into the silvery mirror.

I did not look at the moon;

I did not look at the stars.

I gazed only at her reflection, 

and her eyes.

I saw them nod and gaze up 

from the happy brook;

the little blue flowers on the bank 

nodded and glanced at her.

The whole sky seemed 

immersed in the brook

and sought to drag me down 

into its depths.

Above the clouds and stars

the brook rippled merrily,

and called me with its singing and ringing: 

‘Friend, follow me!’

Then my eyes filled with tears 

and the mirror became blurred. 

She said: ‘It’s about to rain. 

Goodbye. I’m going home.’

 

11. Mine!

Brook, cease your babbling! 

Wheels, stop your roaring! 

All you merry wood-birds 

great and small,

end your warbling!

Throughout the wood,

within it and beyond,

let one rhyme alone ring out today:

my beloved, the maid of the mill, is mine! 

Mine!

Spring, are these all of your flowers?

Sun, do you have no brighter light?

Ah, then I must remain all alone

with that blissful word of mine,

understood nowhere in the whole of creation.

 

12. Pause

I have hung my lute on the wall,

and tied a green ribbon around it.

I can sing no more, my heart is too full;

I do not know how to force it into rhyme. 

The most ardent pangs of my longing

I could express in playful song,

and as I lamented, so sweetly and tenderly, 

I believed my sorrows were not trifling.

Ah, how great can my burden of joy be

that no song on earth will contain it?

Rest now, dear lute, here on this nail,

and if a breath of air wafts over your strings,

or a bee touches you with its wings,

I shall feel afraid, and shudder.

Why have I let this ribbon hang down so far?

Often it flutters across the strings with a sighing sound. 

Is this the echo of my love’s sorrow,

or could it be the prelude to new songs?

 

13. To accompany the lute's green ribbon

‘What a pity that the lovely green ribbon 

should fade on the wall here;

I am so fond of green!’

That is what you said to me today, my love. 

I untied it at once and sent it to you:

now delight in green!

Though your sweetheart is all in white, 

green shall have its reward,

and I, too, am fond of it.

For our love is evergreen,

for distant hope blossoms green. 

That is why we are fond of it.

Now plait the green ribbon

prettily into your hair,

for you are so fond of green.

Then I shall know where hope dwells, 

then I shall know where love reigns, 

then I shall truly delight in green.

 

14. The Huntsman

What does the huntsman seek here by the millstream?

Stay in your own territory, defiant hunter! 

Here is no game for you to hunt;

here dwells only a tame fawn for me.

And should you wish to see that gentle fawn, 

leave your guns in the forest,

leave your baying hounds at home,

stop that pealing din on your horn

and shave that unkempt beard from your chin, 

or the fawn will take fright in the garden.

But it would be better if you stayed in the forest 

and left mills and millers in peace.

How can fish thrive among green branches? 

What can the squirrel want in the blue pond? 

Stay in the wood, then, defiant hunter,

and leave me alone with my three mill-wheels, 

and if you wish to make yourself popular with my sweetheart,

then, my friend, you should know what distresses 

her heart: wild boars come out of the wood at night, 

and break into her cabbage patch,

rooting about and trampling over the field.

Shoot the wild boars, hunting hero!

 

15. Jealousy and Pride

Whither so fast, so ruffled and fierce, my beloved brook?

Do you hurry full of anger after our insolent huntsman friend?

Turn back, and first reproach your maid of the mill

for her frivolous, wanton inconstancy.

Did you not see her standing by the gate last night,

craning her neck as she looked towards the high road?

When the huntsman returns home merrily after the kill

a nice girl does not put her head out of the window.

Go, brook, and tell her this; but breathe not a word –

do you hear? – about my unhappy face;

tell her: he has cut himself a reed pipe on my banks,

and is piping pretty songs and dances for the children.

 

16. The beloved colour

I shall dress in green,

in green weeping willows:

my love is so fond of green.

I shall seek out a cypress grove, 

a heath full of green rosemary: 

my love is so fond of green.

Up, away to the merry hunt! 

Away over heath and hedge! 

My love is so fond of hunting. 

The game I hunt is death.

The heath I call Love’s Torment: 

my love is so fond of hunting.

Dig me a grave in the grass.

Cover me with green turf.

My love is so fond of green.

No black cross, no colourful flowers, 

green, everything green, all around. 

My love is so fond of green.

 

17. The loathsome colour

I should like to go out into the world, 

into the wide world.

If only it were not so green

out there in field and forest!

I should like to pluck the green leaves 

from every branch;

I should like to make the green grass 

deathly pale with my weeping.

O green, you loathsome colour, 

why do you look at me,

so proud, so insolent, so gloating – 

at me, a poor white miller?

I should like to lie at her door 

in storm and rain and snow, 

and sing softly, day and night, 

one single word, ‘Farewell!’

Hark! When a hunting horn sounds in the wood, 

I can hear her window.

And though she does not look,

yet I can look in.

O untie the green ribbon 

from your brow. 

Farewell! And in parting 

give me your hand.

 

18. Withered flowers

All you flowers

that she gave to me, 

you shall be laid 

with me in the grave.

How sorrowfully

you all look at me,

as though you knew

what was happening to me!

All you flowers,

how faded and pale you are! 

All you flowers,

why are you so moist?

Alas, tears will not create 

the green of May,

nor make dead love 

bloom anew.

Spring will come, 

and winter will pass, 

and flowers

will grow in the grass.

And flowers will lie 

on my grave –

all the flowers

that she gave me.

And when she walks

past that mound

and ponders in her heart, 

‘His love was true.’

Then, all you flowers, 

come forth, come forth! 

May is here,

winter is over!

 

19. The Miller and the Brook

THE MILLER:

Where a true heart

dies of love,

the lilies wilt

in their beds.

There the full moon

must disappear behind clouds

so that mankind

does not see its tears.

There angels

cover their eyes

and, sobbing, sing

the soul to rest.

THE BROOK:

And when love

struggles free of sorrow,

a new star

shines in the sky.

Three roses,

half-red, half-white,

spring from thorny stems

and will never wither.

And the angels

cut off their wings,

and every morning

descend to earth.

THE MILLER:

Ah, brook, beloved brook,

you mean so well:

ah, brook, but do you know

what love can do?

Ah, below, down below,

is cool rest!

Brook, beloved brook,

sing on.

 

20. The brook's lullaby

Rest well, rest well!

Close your eyes!

Weary wanderer, this is your home. 

Here is constancy;

you shall lie with me,

until the sea drinks up all brooks.

I shall make you a cool bed 

on a soft pillow

in this blue crystal chamber. 

Come, come,

all you who can lull,

rock and lull this boy for me!

When a hunting-horn echoes

from the green forest,

I shall surge and roar about you.

Do not peep in,

little blue flowers!

You will give my slumberer such bad dreams.

Away, away

from the mill-path,

wicked girl, lest your shadow should wake him! 

Throw me

your fine shawl,

that I may keep his eyes covered!

Good night, good night,

until all awaken;

sleep away your joy, sleep away your sorrow! 

The full moon rises,

the mist vanishes,

and the sky above, how vast it is.