The German Shakespeare Part Two: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

In honor of Shakespeare’s Aprilian birthday, and in continuation of last week’s post, I thought I’d take a peek at how the Bard fares in the German version of the fairytale play.

For some unknown reason (at least not any that I can fathom),   many of the characters’ names were changed.   I’m sure the Germans of the day could have handled the original, but ah well. 

So, Peaceblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed became Bohnenblüte, Spinnweb, Motte und Senfsamen.  Puck is now Droll.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream vs   Ein Sommernachtstraum 


Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

Hippolyta. Vier Tage tauchen sich ja schnell in Naechte, Vier Naechte traeumen schnell die Zeit hinweg: Dann soll der Mond, gleich einem Silberbogen, Am Himmel neu gespannt, die Nacht beschaun Von unserm Fest.


If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.


Wenn wir Schatten euch beleidigt,
O so glaubt—und wohl verteidigt
Sind wir dann—: ihr alle schier
Habet nur geschlummert hier
Und geschaut in Nachtgesichten
Eures eignen Hirnes Dichten.
Wollt ihr diesen Kindertand,
Der wie leere Träume schwand,
Liebe Herrn, nicht gar verschmähn,
Sollt ihr bald was Beßres sehn.
Wenn wir bösem Schlangenzischen
Unverdienterweis entwischen,
So verheißt auf Ehre Droll
Bald euch unsres Dankes Zoll;
Ist ein Schelm zu heißen willig,
Wenn dies nicht geschieht, wie billig.
Nun gute Nacht! Das Spiel zu enden,
Begrüßt uns mit gewognen Händen!

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Isn’t the German for spider spinner (or close to it)?

  2. Heya Ralfast.

    You are close.

    Spider is die Spinne.

  3. Ah….

    I guess that’s why Cobweb became Spinnweb, which is what happens when you make any translation a bit to literal….


  4. Zu schade, dass das Bild so klein ist. Sie hätten Peaceblossom in Friedensblüte übersetzen können, das wäre auch nicht verkehrt gewesen.

  5. Hi Kim,

    Thanks so much for stopping over at my blog. 🙂

    I’ll translate your message for those here who don’t read German.

    Kim says it is a shame that the picture is so small. They also could have changed Peaceblossom into Friedensblüte, but that also would have been wrong.

    Hope I translated that correctly! If I made an error, please let me know.

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