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Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget.

Das Verb »stehen« bedeutet stand, suit auf Englisch.

Aber hier weiß ich nicht, was es bedeutet.

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    »The forest stands black and is silent.« - It's a poetic speech. Dec 14, 2016 at 14:17
  • (+1) But, technically, the forest stands black and *is* silent, since schweigt is a verb, nort an adjective. Personally, I think "dark and silent" sounds better - more ... threatening ... ominous. So rather than word word translation, the forst stands dark and silent Dec 15, 2016 at 17:56

4 Answers 4

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It is from a poem/song (Abendlied „Der Mond ist aufgegangen“ by Matthias Claudius), so language use differs from common German use and is open to interpretation.

I'd consider this line as a case of personification (Personifizierung), where the Wald gets human qualities.

steht: The Wald is standing around; basically meaning "there is" a Wald and it is not doing much (no activity, it is just there).

schweiget (normally it would be schweigt, from schweigen/to keep silent): Another personification meaning the Wald is not saying anything, is quiet (no birds singing, no rustling leaves...). This kind of goes together with Der Wald steht (no activity).

schwarz (black): I'd associate with darkness (evening/night) or perhaps a very dense forest.

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  • Apparently, "Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget" is also the title (based on the song/poem) of a Tatort. Dec 14, 2016 at 13:09
  • schwarz makes perfect sense in terms of darkness. If the moon has just risen, then it is more often than not during the night.
    – Adwaenyth
    Dec 15, 2016 at 11:02
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stehen (Bavarian Forest)

enter image description here Wikimedia

liegen (Black Forest after a storm)

enter image description here Vitold Muratov: Wikimedia

Note for learners: The pictures illustrate that stehen can well be used in the context of trees and a forest but other than with trees we do not use liegen for a forest not even after a storm damage. Then, liegen has the meaning of to be located in.

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  • =D Selten bei einer Antwort so gelacht (+1)
    – Jan
    Dec 14, 2016 at 23:14
  • Don't want to spoil the fun, but would you really refer to these situations saying: der Wald steht/liegt? Dec 15, 2016 at 7:10
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    @user1583209 - no of course not. With a forest we mostly use "liegen" as to be located in but the pictures do illustrate why stehen may have been used in the poem.
    – Takkat
    Dec 15, 2016 at 7:44
  • Could have been worth to make that clear with a few words. Personally I don't see this as the contrast you show in the pictures, but could imagine the following interpretation of "...steht schwarz..." as tall trees towering menacingly over the observer. This in contrast to "...liegen..." which I'd associate with sleep, lying down (therefore low height), calm.... Dec 15, 2016 at 9:16
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Zwei Eigenschaften kommen hier in Betracht:

1) stehen kommt vom Lateinische stare, ebenso wie statisch, keine Bewegung. Andere Beispiele:

  • In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus
  • An der Kreuzung steht ein Stoppschild

2) Eine nennenswerte Höhe des Gegenstandes. Bei einem See oder einem Zebrastreifen würde man eher liegen oder sich befinden verwenden (die allerdings auch beide auf einen Wald anwendbar wären).

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    "Oans, zwoa, gsuffa" führt zu mehr Verwirrung bei den Lesern, oder?
    – glglgl
    Dec 15, 2016 at 9:03
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Tatsächlich gibt es Bäume die "stehen und schweigen."

Aber ein Wald ist eine Sammlung von Bäumen.

Es is viel imponierender "Der Wald steht und schweigt," zu sagen, als "Die Bäume stehen und schweigen," zu sagen.

Das ist poetisch.

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  • @user1583209: Thanks for your help.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 16, 2016 at 18:30

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