The treasure digger (Goethe)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Der Schatzgräber is a ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , written in May 1797; First print in Schiller 's Almanac of the Muses for the year 1798 .


At the center of the ballad is an unspecified protagonist who is characterized as “poor”. However, this poverty is not only to be understood as purely material, because it is also accompanied by emotional poverty (“sick in the heart”). In his distress he places all hope in finding a treasure (this can also be understood both in a material and an emotional sense). To this end, he performs an incantation ritual during the night and even declares himself ready to give his soul for "wealth". In fact, his incantation does something, because coming from a distance, accompanied by a bright light, a boy with a flower wreath appears to him, offering him a bowl for a drink. The ballad ends with his character speech:

Drink the courage of the pure life!
Then you understand the teaching,
come, with fearful incantation,
not back to this place.
Don't dig here in vain anymore.
Day's work! Evening guests!
Acid Weeks! Happy Holidays!
Be your future magic word.

Shape analysis

The ballad consists of five stanzas of eight verses each. The rhyme scheme [abbcaddc]consists of two rhymes in pairs and two rhymes that one could call “great embracing rhymes” and that cross each other. The meter is a trochaic four- lever meter .


Two of the five stanzas are striking: the first and the last. The first stanza can be divided into two parts. The first four verses represent the current state of the treasure hunter; verses five through eight the conclusion he draws from it. The last stanza differs from the others in its didactic character. One can perceive a “change of mood” after the second stanza. The previously black, stormy night with its eerie evocation turns into a wonderful moment that is anything but gloomy. The impression of something sacred and good is created. This impression is evoked by words such as light, shine, grace, wreaths of flowers and sky luster .


The ballad is intended to change attitudes towards the meaning of life and focus on what is important in life according to the textual message. The treasure hunter sees money in the first stanza as the “panacea for all the world”, which could solve all his problems. The boy wants to change the treasure hunter's attitude with his portrayal of the values ​​of life. There are so postulated the text that much more important things than money: about work , about the self-esteem to increase the long term and maintain. Guests , i.e. contact with other people. You should also be able to endure bad days and enjoy the good ones all the more. This is the future magic word of the treasure hunter and also of the reader. In a way, the treasure hunter has achieved his goal: He has found a treasure. However, this one looks very different from what he expected.


Lutz Görner recorded the treasure digger on his album Ballads for Children . Robert Schumann : op. 45 No. 1: Romances and Ballads for Voice and Piano (Book 1) - No. 1 The Treasure Digger Attention Correction: The Schumann setting is a text by Eichendorff The Treasure Grave of Goethe was written by “Franz Schubert “set D256 to music! There is also a setting by Hanns Eisler .


Wikisource: Der Schatzgräber (Goethe)  - Sources and full texts