DER ERLKÖNIG ELF-KING
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe trans. Walter A.Aue



Wer reitet so spät
.....durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater
.....mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben
.....wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher,
.....er hält ihn warm.

"Mein Sohn, was birgst du
.....so bang dein Gesicht?" -
"Siehst, Vater, du
.....den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig
.....mit Kron und Schweif?"
"Mein Sohn, es ist
.....ein Nebelstreif."

"Du liebes Kind,
.....komm, geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele
.....spiel ich mit dir;
Manch bunte Blumen
.....sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat
.....manch gülden Gewand."

"Mein Vater, mein Vater,
.....und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig
.....mir leise verspricht?"
"Sei ruhig, bleibe
.....ruhig, mein Kind:
In dürren Blättern
.....säuselt der Wind."

"Willst, feiner Knabe,
.....du mit mir gehn?
Meine Töchter sollen
.....dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen
.....den nächtlichen Reihn
Und wiegen und tanzen
.....und singen dich ein."

"Mein Vater, mein Vater,
.....und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter
.....am düsteren Ort?"
"Mein Sohn, mein Sohn,
.....ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten
.....Weiden so grau."

"Ich liebe dich, mich reizt
.....deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig,
.....so brauch ich Gewalt."
"Mein Vater, mein Vater,
.....jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir
.....ein Leids getan!"

Dem Vater grauset's,
.....er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen
.....das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof
.....mit Müh' und Not:
In seinen Armen
.....das Kind war tot.
(Translation to fit Franz Schubert's setting, D-328)

Who's riding so late
.....through night so wild?
It is a father,
.....he holds his child;
his son he cradles
.....within his arm,
he keeps and shields him
.....from frost and harm.

"My son, are you hiding
.....your face in fear?"
Oh, father, see
.....the Elf-King appear!
The King of Elves
.....with crown and tail!"
"My son, it's fogs
.....adrift the vale!"

"Thou pretty child,
.....do come with me!
Such fine amusements
.....I'll have with thee;
such pretty flowers
.....grow on the shore,
my mother's got
.....gold dresses galore."

"My father, my father,
.....and do you not hear
how Elf-King softly
.....tries to endear?"
Be still now, stay
.....composed, my son:
you hear the breezes
.....through dry leaves run."

"Wilt, pretty youngster,
.....thou come with me?
My daughters shall be
.....attending thee;
my daughters nightly
.....their dances keep
and cradle and coddle
.....and sing you to sleep."

"My father, my father,
.....and do you not see
daughters of Elf-King
.....beckoning me?"
"My son, my son,
.....I see them quite clear:
those old willows look so
.....grizzled and queer."
.....
"I love you, I'm roused by
.....your beautiful shape:
And if you're not willing
.....I'll have you by rape."
"My father, my father,
.....he's coming for me!"
Elf-King has done me
.....an injury!"

The father's flesh creeps,
.....he's riding like wild
his arms are protecting
.....the whimpering child -
he reaches at last
.....the old homestead
: Still in his arms
.....the child - was dead -

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © A.S.Kline 2000


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