DEUTSCHE SPIELMANNSWEISE I GERMAN WAYFARER SONG I
Walther von der Vogelweide trans. Elisabeth Siekhaus

Ir sult sprechen willekomen:
der iu mære bringet, daz bin ich.
allez daz ir habt vernomen,
daz ist gar ein wint: nû frâget mich.
ich wil aber miete:
wirt mîn lôn iht guot,
ich gesage iu lîhte daz iu sanfte tuot.
seht waz man mir êren biete.

Ich wil tiuschen frouwen sagen
solhiu mære daz si deste baz
al der werlte suln behagen:
âne grôze miete tuon ich daz.
waz wold ich ze lône?
si sint mir ze hêr.
sô bin ich gefüege und bite si nihtes mêr
wan daz si mich grüezen schône.

Ich hân lande vil gesehen
unde nam der besten gerne war:
übel müeze mir geschehen,
kunde ich ie mîn herze bringen dar
daz im wol gevallen
wolde fremeder site.
nû waz hulfe mich, ob ich unrechte strite?
tiuschiu zuht gât vor in allen.

Von der Elbe unz an den Rîn
und her wider unz an Ungerlant
mugen wol die besten sîn,
die ich in der werlte hân erkant.
kan ich rehte schouwen
guot gelâz und lîp,
sem mir got, sô swüere ich wol, daz hie diu wip
bezzer sint danne ander frouwen.

Tiusche man sint wol gezogen,
rehte als engel sint diu wîp getân.
swer si schildet, derst betrogen:
ich entkan sîn anders niht verstân.
tugent und reine minne,
swer die suochen wil,
der sol komen in unser lant: da ist wünne vil!
lange müeze ich leben dar inne!

Der ich vil gedienet hân
und iemer mêre gerne dienen wil,
diust von mir vil unerlân.
iedoch sô tuot si leides mir sô vil.
si kan mir versêren
herze und den muot.
nû vergebez ir got dazs an mir missetuot.
her nâch mac si sichs bekêren.

You should speak: Welcome!
He who brings you news, thatís me!
Everything that you have heard before
Is just air: Now ask me!
But I do want my reward:
If that pay turns out really good,
I will tell you readily what will please you.
See to it that I am treated with respect.

I want to tell German women
Such tales that they will be
Even more pleasing to the whole world:
Without special rewards will I do that!
What would I desire as compensation?
I find them too exalted.
So I will be obliging and ask them for no more
Than that they greet me gracefully.

I have been to many lands
And enjoyed seeing the very best of them.
Let bad things happen to me,
If I could bring my heart to the point
That it would find pleasing
The customs of strange lands.
What good would it do me if I argued wrong?
German customs come before all others.

From the Elbe up to the Rhine,
And back again all the way to Hungary
May well live the best people
I ever found on earth.
If I can recognize properly
Good manners and looks,
By God, I could swear that the women here
Are better than the ladies elsewhere.

German men are well bred,
The women are made as outright angels.
Whoever criticizes them got it wrong:
I cannot see that any other way.
Virtue and pure love,
He who wants to find these
Should come to our land, we have much joy here!
May I live in it a long time!



[last stanza usually omitted]






Click here 3 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Elisabeth Siekhaus 2008


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