Gottfried von Strassburg

medieval German poet

Gottfried von Strassburg (died c. 1210) was a German poet known mainly for his unfinished Tristan, a romance based on the Tristan of Thomas of Britain. Gottfried's poem was the main literary source of Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde.


  • Liut unde lant diu möhten mit genâden sîn
    wan zwei vil kleiniu wortelîn "min" unde "din".
    • People and nations could live in grace
      but for two little words, "mine" and "yours".
    • "Liut unde lant diu möhten mit genâden sîn", line 1. Text and translation from Frederick Goldin (trans.) German and Italian Lyrics of the Middle Ages (New York: Anchor Books, 1973) pp. 142–143.



Swem nie von liebe leit geschach,
dem geschach ouch liep von liebe nie.

He that never had sorrow of love never had joy of it either!
Translations here are, unless otherwise stated, taken from A T Hatto's version of Tristan, published by Penguin Books ISBN 0140440984.
  • Liebe ist ein also saelic dinc,
    ein also saeleclich gerinc,
    daz nieman ane ir lere
    noch tugende hat noch ere.
    • Love is so blissful a thing, so blessed an endeavour, that apart from its teaching none attains worth or reputation.
    • Line 187
  • Swem nie von liebe leit geschach,
    dem geschach ouch liep von liebe nie.
    • He that never had sorrow of love never had joy of it either!
    • Line 204
  • Swer keinen schaden vertragen kan,
    dâ wahsent dicke schaden an.
    und ist ein veiclîcher site.
    • If one cannot overlook a hurt, many hurts will grow from it. It is a fatal style of living.
    • Line 281
  • Owe der ougenweide
    da man nach leidem leide
    mit leiderem leide
    siht leider ougenweide!
    • Alas for the sight where, after dire grief, one sees a sadder sight with grief more dire!
    • Line 1751
  • Hazzen unde nîden
    daz muoz der biderbe lîden.
    der man der werdet al die vrist,
    die wîle und er geniten ist.
    • A worthy man is bound to suffer malice and envy: a man grows in worth so long as he is envied.
    • Line 8395
  • Ez ist ein armer trügesite,
    der vriunden alsô liuget,
    daz er sich selben triuget.
    • What a wretched sort of deception, when a man so lies to his friends that he dupes himself.
    • Line 12308
  • Ine weiz, wie jener werden sol;
    dirre tôt der tuot mir wol.
    solte diu wunneclîche Isôt
    iemer alsus sî mîn tôt,
    sô wolte ich gerne werben
    umbe ein êweclîchez sterben.
    • I have no idea what the other will be like, but this death suits me well! If my adorable Isolde were to go on being the death of me in this fashion I would woo death everlasting!
    • Line 12497
  • Isot ma drüe, Isot m'amie
    En vus ma mort, en vus ma vie
    • Isolde my mistress, Isolde my beloved, in you my life, in you my death!
    • Line 19409; these lines in Old French are presumably quoted from one of the lost sections of Thomas of Britain's Tristan.
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