Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt

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"Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt" ("Only he who knows yearning") is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The poem appeared in Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. It is one of the songs of Mignon, a character in the novel.

The poem has been set to music by many composers,[1] among them Beethoven, Schubert (six settings, the last two included in Gesänge aus "Wilhelm Meister, D 877), Schumann, Wolf and Tchaikovsky (via its translation into Russian by Lev Mei). Tchaikovsky's setting is often known in English as "None but the Lonely Heart" and has been set in many vocal, choral, and instrumental arrangements.

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!
Allein und abgetrennt
Von aller Freude,
Seh ich ans Firmament
Nach jener Seite.

Ach! der mich liebt und kennt,
Ist in der Weite.
Es schwindelt mir, es brennt
Mein Eingeweide.
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!

Only those who know longing
Know what sorrows me!
Alone and separated
From all joy,
I behold the firmament
From yonder side.

Ah! the one who loves and knows me
Is in the vast unknown.
It dizzies me, it burns
my guts.
Only those who know longing
Know how I suffer!


  1. ^ "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt", The LiederNet Archive