I am translating the following piece of poetry

Nightingale said it to flower, and flower said it to spring,
what stars heard as a whisper from night’s silver fling:

Considering the context above, I am using the verbs sagen and besagen with preposition zu as follows:

Die Nachtigall sagte es zur Blume und die Blume besagte es zum Frühling,
was die Sterne in heller Vollmondnacht mithörten:

I am choosing the verb sagen for Nightingale as it is the one who said what is quoted, but Flower heard this and conveyed Nightingale’s feelings to Spring; that’s why I have used besagen. Do both verbs with zu fit in this context?


The usage of the word "besagen" is wrong in this context. "Besagen" more or less means something like "to testify"."to bear witness".

"... wie die Quellen besagen..."

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  • 1
    Even worse, "besagen" is unfortunately not the least bit poetic - It is rather more administrative German and spoils the whole poem. – tofro May 23 '16 at 6:31
  • So which verb will suit to convey the message? – Chin May 23 '16 at 20:32
  • @tofro: Ob "besagen" in einem Gedicht geht oder nicht hängt nicht alleine vom Wort, sondern sehr vom Kontext ab. Für Frances Parthenope Verney (* 19. April 1819 in Neapel; † 12. Mai 1890) wäre das Vorkommen von "besagen" aber wohl in der Tat ungewöhnlich. – user unknown Jun 25 '17 at 21:31

No, besagen does not mean say in the sense of speaking.

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The other answers have already told you that "besagen" won't work here; as for alternatives, how about "erzählen" (tell) or "berichten" (report)?

Two more things, in case you are concerned about proper meter: The original uses "Nightingale", "Flower" etc as proper names (with no article), and might just as well do the same in German. The stress on the first syllable of "Frühling" may be awkward, so if you don't mind sounding antiquated, you could use "Lenz" instead; this could make preserving the rhyme tricky, however.

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