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I'm having trouble understanding the first two lines of the following song (Die Sehnsucht ist Mein Steuermann, by Santiano) verse:

Was auch da draußen warten mag
Entfernt sich mehr, mit jedem Tag
Ich jag' den Träumen hinterher
Mein Herz, es wiegt so schwer
Egal wo mein Zuhause ist
Bleibt etwas da, das ich vermiss'
Es liegt auf mir so wie ein Fluch
Nie das zu finden, was ich such'

As I understand, entfernen sich means "go away, depart". But what exactly is "going away" here and why? The meaning seems to be

Whatever may be waiting out there
Is farther away with each day

which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, especially given the context of the song. Normally I'd dismiss it as "poetic nonsense", but this band is not known for "word salad lyrics".

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    You got it right. The song is about someone who is always looking for something but never finds it.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 24 at 19:39
  • Yes, but if this song is about a guy who's always traveling places, shouldn't things, like, be getting closer and not farther away?
    – Eli
    Jun 24 at 19:44
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    @Eli: you would think so, right? But I guess that's his point, that all his travelling doesn't actually bring him nearer to whatever he tries to find. "Es liegt auf mir so wie ein Fluch Nie das zu finden, was ich such."
    – HalvarF
    Jun 25 at 6:05
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    As the title suggests "Sehnsucht ist mein Steuermann" it is the searching that drives MC out into the world. And while he likes that feeling (Fernweh,see answer) and wants to keep it, his rational side also starts to realize that going abroad seems to do the opposite of "bringing closer". There is still believe that "there is sth waiting for me out there" means "far away from home". And the rational part of his brain starts to pound "no, not that out there". Jun 25 at 7:18
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The verb »entfernen« exists in two versions with two different meanings. (You also could argue it's two different verbs which are homonyms.)

  • transitive
    etwas entfernen
    to remove something

    Der Arzt entfernt den Gips von meinem Bein.
    The doctor removes the cast from my leg.

  • reflexive
    sich entfernen
    to leave, to go away

    Der Soldat entfernt sich unerlaubt von seinem Posten.
    The soldier leaves his post without permission.

You also might try to translate the last sentence as

The soldier removes himself from his post without permission.

I know, this doesn't sound like good English, but this is how to leave works in German.

So, the first two lines of that song text will correctly translate as follows:

Was auch da draußen warten mag
entfernt sich mehr, mit jedem Tag

Whatever may be waiting out there
moves away more and more every day (becomes more distant every day)

So, the answer to your question (What is going away?) is given in line 1: The thing that is waiting out there. This out-there-thing is moving away.

The song is about a person who travels around searching for something or someone, not knowing exactly what he is looking for, and the more he searches, the less he finds it.

The Emotion the song is about is »Fernweh« which is a German word that has no direct English translation. Dictionaries list as possible translations »itchy feet« or »wanderlust« (which btw is another German word, but it doesn't mean exactly the same as »Fernweh«). Another translation is »yen to see distant places«. But »Fernweh« is not really about being somewhere else. It is more about not staying where you are now.

Wherever you are, you always have the feeling that you miss something somewhere else. But when you're then somewhere else the »Fernweh« won't go away. You still have to move on, looking for something, not knowing exactly what you are looking for. You just know: It's not here, where you are. The more you move, the farther away goes whatever it is that you are looking for.

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I would translate sich entfernen to retreat.

It remains unclear from the given context, whether es, which waits for the narrator, actively does so, or just appears to retreat, since he/she is moving into the wrong direction (by hunting dreams).

But nevertheless, the essence is, that despite moving with speed, he/she does not seem to approach the target/destiny/whatever.

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