German Language Blog

“Stufen” von Hermann Hesse Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Literature

Hallo liebe Leute! Ich hoffe, ihr ihr seid gut am ende 2013 angekommen.  In honor of the New Year, I would like to share with you one of my favorite poems. It is called “Stufen” and it was written by Hermann Hesse in 1941. You may be familiar with Hesse’s novels Siddhartha or Steppenwolf (the former of which was featured once on The Lernen to Talk Show), which are very popular all over the world. Both of those novels revolve around the inner transformations of their characters, a theme that is also found in Hesse’s shorter works.

“Stufen”, or “Steps”, reads like a direct translation of the messages he shrouds in his novels, edited down to a single poem. But don’t think that means it’s simply written! This ain’t no beginner’s Deutsch. I often return to this poem, and every time I do, I find myself looking up a word whose meaning I’d forgotten. I also find new meaning in lines I’d understood differently before. I did my best to translate it for you line by line, but first I would recommend reading it aloud. Even if you don’t understand it, try reading the poem and feeling the sound. Like any poem, the structure of “Stufen” is as important as its content. You can also listen to a recording of it being read by the author himself in the Youtube video below.

Thank you so much for reading!  Ich wünsche euch einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!


Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend

Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,

Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend

Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.

Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe

Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,

Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern

In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.

Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,

Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.


Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,

An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,

Der Welgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,

Er will uns Stuf’ um Stufe heben, weiten.

Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise

Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,

Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,

Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.


Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde

Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,

Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden…

Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!



As every blossom wilts and every youth

Yields to age, so blooms every step of life,

So too blooms every wisdom and every virtue

In its time and may not last forever.

The heart must at all of life’s calls

Be ready to part and begin anew,

So that it may, with courage and without grief,

Give itself to new engagements.

In every beginning lives a magic,

Protecting us and helping us to live.


Lithely and cheerfully should we stride from room to room,

On none hang like we would a home,

The spirit of the world wants not to fetter or restrict us,

Rather to lift us step by step, to expand us.

We barely arrive in a phase of life

And already complacency threatens.

Only he who is ready to break off and travel

May break from crippling habituation.


Perhaps even the hour of death

Will dispatch to us fresh and new,

Life’s call to us will never end…

Well then, my heart, be and fare well!

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About the Author: mickeymickey

Mickey was born in 1987 in Chicago, IL. He plays the oboe and loves Calvin & Hobbes. His favorite Beatles song is "Something", but his favorite Beatles album is A Hard Day's Night.


  1. alice:

    wunderbar! Ich liebe alles. was du sprichst..


    • mickeymickey:

      @alice Danke Alice! Ich glaube, das ist eine die schönste Gedichte aller Zeiten!

  2. Patsy Mesch:

    I love your wp theme, exactly where did you get a hold of it through?