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Der Nussbaum (1840) Op. 25 no.3

Part of a series or song cycle:

Myrthen (Op. 25)

Der Nussbaum

Es grünet ein Nussbaum, vor dem Haus,
Breitet er blättrig die Blätter aus.
Viel liebliche Blüten stehen d’ran,
Kommen, sie herzlich zu umfahn.
Es flüstern je zwei zu zwei gepaart,
Zierlich zum Kusse die Häuptchen zart.
Sie flüstern von einem Mägdlein, das
Die Nächte
Und Tagelang, wüsste ach! selber nicht was.
Sie flüstern—wer mag verstehen so gar
Flüstern von Bräut’gam und nächstem Jahr.
Das Mägdlien horchet, es rauscht im Baum;
Sinkt es lächelnd in Schlaf und Traum.

The Walnut Tree

A nut tree blossoms outside the house,
It spreads its leafy boughs.
Many lovely blossoms it bears,
Come to caress them tenderly.
Paired together, they whisper,
Gracefully their delicate heads to kiss.
They whisper of a maiden who
For nights
And days of, alas, she knew not what.
They whisper—who can understand
So soft
A song?
Whisper of a bridegroom and next year.
The maiden listens, the tree rustles;
She drifts smiling into sleep and dreams.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Julius Mosen was a German poet and author of Jewish descent, associated with the Young Germany movement, and now remembered principally for his patriotic poem the Andreas-Hofer-Lied.

Julius Mosen (Julius Moses) was born at Marieney in the Saxon Vogtland, the son of Johannes Gottlob Moses, the cantor and schoolmaster of Marieney. He studied at the Gymnasium in Plauen from 1817 to 1822, and afterwards studied law at the University of Jena. During a two-year-long visit to Italy, he received the inspiration that resulted several years later in his major works (Ritter Wahn, Cola Rienzi, Der Kongreß von Verona).

A steel engraving inspired by Mosen's "Die letzte zehn" poem

On his return, he finished his law studies at Leipzig, where he then worked as a lawyer. From 1835 to 1844 he was an independent advocate in Dresden. He had meanwhile shown great literary promise in his Lied vom Ritter Wahn (1831). This was followed by the more philosophical Ahasvar (1838), and by a volume of poems, Gedichte (1836, 2nd ed., 1843), among which Andreas Hofer and Die letzten Zehn vom vierten Regiment became popular. As an active freemason in Dresden he encountered several important literary figures, including Ludwig Tieck, Ludwig Uhland, Georg Herwegh, Richard Wagner and Gottfried Semper, and was soon himself reckoned to be among the best-known German poets.

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