The question is on the highlighted clause in this passage from Doktor Allwissend in Brothers Grimm's collection.

Es war einmal ein armer Bauer namens Krebs, der fuhr mit zwei Ochsen ein Fuder Holz in die Stadt und verkaufte es für zwei Taler an einen Doktor. Wie ihm nun das Geld ausbezahlt wurde, saß der Doktor gerade zu Tisch: da sah der Bauer, wie er schön aß und trank, und das Herz ging ihm danach auf, und er wäre auch gern ein Doktor gewesen. Also blieb er noch ein Weilchen stehen und fragte endlich, ob er nicht auch könnte ein Doktor werden. „O ja,“ sagte der Doktor, „das ist bald geschehen.“ „Was muß ich tun?“ fragte der Bauer. „Erstlich kauf dir ein Abcbuch, so ist eins, wo vorn ein Göckelhahn drin ist; zweitens mache deinen Wagen und deine zwei Ochsen zu Geld und schaff dir damit Kleider an und was sonst zur Doktorei gehört; drittens laß dir ein Schild malen mit den Worten „ich bin der Doktor Allwissend,“ und laß das oben über deine Haustür nageln.“ Der Bauer tat alles, wies ihm geheißen war.


What exactly does the clause mean, and how does it come to mean that?


If das Herz geht jemandem nach einer Sache auf is a set phrase, please tell me so and provide the exact meaning.

If it is not a set phrase, and the reader must put its meaning together from the meanings of of its components, please explain the process. It might go, for example (and this may be totally wrong):

aufgehen is for something to go off, or become more active and noticeable. So, the heart went off, or began to act up. Next, it went off to the peasant (from this we learn whose heart has been in question). Finally, the heart went off after the food and drink (if danach refers to what went before). Putting it all together, the peasant's heart went off after the food and drink. Or he craved them.

Finally perhaps you might add how poetic or plain, unusual or ordinary the structure is.

1 Answer 1


According to the Redensarten Index (index of [German] proverbs and sayings), it means

jemand kommt in eine feierliche / glückliche Stimmung; jemand bekommt das gute Gefühl, einem besonderen Ereignis beizuwohnen


someone gets into a good or celebratory mood; someone gets the feeling they are witnessing or partaking in a special event

It is indeed a set phrase attributed to

Das in dieser Redensart verwendete Bild verbindet die aufgehende Sonne als Symbol einer frohen Stimmung mit dem Herzen als Sitz der Gefühle. Die Redensart ist spätestens seit dem frühen 19. Jahrhundert schriftlich belegt: "... muß dem verstocktesten Misathropen das Herz aufgehen" (Zeitung für die elegante Welt, 1812, Nr. 88, 700)


The image employed in this phrase combines the rising sun as symbol of joyful feelings with the heart as the centre of feelings/emotions. The phrase has been found in writing since no later than the early 19th century: [example and source given]

I'd say the phrase is indeed somewhat poetic but common. It wouldn't be unusual to say something like

Schau mal die Hündin mit ihrem Wurf Welpen, da geht einem ja das Herz auf.


Look at the bitch [canine, not insult!] with her litter of puppies, doesn't that make you feel all warm inside.

The use of danach is rarely found today, after some research I found it in one modern document, the BOTSCHAFT VON JOHANNES PAUL II. ZUM WELTMISSIONSSONNTAG 2000 (Message from John Paul II. for World Missionary Day 2000):

Wir wissen, daß ihre Mühen und ihr Leid nicht verlorengehen werden, sondern der Sauerteig sind, der im Herzen anderer Apostel die Sehnsucht danach aufgehen läßt, sich der edlen Sache des Evangeliums zu widmen.


We know that their labour and suffering shall not be in vain, but rather will be the rising dough, that will raise the longing in the hearts of other apostels to dedicate themselves to the noble cause of the gospels.

As you can see from the highlighted part, this isn't even the exact same phrasing nor meaning, but is the closest to a modern combination of the phrase that includes the craving aspect.

  • So, the peasant's response was delight, not craving. Of course craving might have followed, but the immediate thing said of him was delight. This sort of subtle difference can matter a great deal in a fairy tale, where attitude could mean life or death. Thank you also for the reference to Redensarten Index.
    – Catomic
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 4:34
  • The problem is of course that there is no nach in your example.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 6:17
  • @CarstenS Indeed! If someone could work nach into the structure and consider how that might change things (perhaps give a tinge of craving to delight), that would be very helpful.
    – Catomic
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 6:40
  • Good point, my first reading of the special context of the fairy tale wasn't even the craving implication of danach. It's a bit archaic, will have to think of an example that someone would actually use nowadays. Unless you don't care :)
    – user21173
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 6:59
  • After doing some reading up, I just can't find any modern context where the danach would still be used. With one remarkable exception, which I've put into the answer.
    – user21173
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.