The LiederNet Archive
WARNING. Not all the material on this website is in the public domain.
It is illegal to copy and distribute our copyright-protected material without permission.
For more information, contact us at the following address:
licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net

Irrlichter, die Knaben

Language: German (Deutsch)

    Irrlichter, die Knaben,
Die laufen und traben,
Mit Luft sich beschuhend,
Nichtsnutziges thuend,
Besprechen sich gerne
Beim Schein der Laterne.
    Was hast du getan?
O sage mir an.
    Es sah mit dem Rumpfe
Ein Frosch aus dem Sumpfe;
Das hat mich verdrossen,
Ich brannt ihm zum Possen
Die Schnauze mit Feuer,
Er quakt' ungeheuer.
    So sage mir nun,
Was war denn dein Thun?
    Ein Hirsch kam mit Zacken,
Ich setzt auf den Nacken
Mich zwischen die Hörner,
Da fuhr er durch Dörner
Mit Schnauben und Rasen;
Ich fiel auf die Nasen.
    Nun sage du schnell,
Was thatst du, Gesell?
    Es trugen die Winde
Mich gar zu geschwinde;
Eh' ich mich's versehen,
Ein Dorf sah ich stehen;
Da bellten die Hunde,
Da wich ich zur Stunde.
    Nun du, zu gut Nacht,
Was hast du gemacht?
    Ein Wandrer, der Wege
Nicht kannte noch Stege,
Ersah mich zum Leuchter,
Mir nach immer keucht' er,
Da löscht' ich die Funken,
Da war er versunken.
    Und aus ist das Wort,
Dann hüpfen sie fort.

Translation(s): ENG

List of language codes

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Gesammelte Gedichte von Friedrich Rückert, Zweiter Theil, Frankfurt am Main: Druck und Verlag von Johann David Sauerländer, 1843, pages 151-152.

Submitted by John Versmoren and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Sharon Krebs) , title 1: "Will-o'-the-wisps", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:48
Line count: 40
Word count: 170

Gentle Reminder
This website began in 1995 as a personal project, and I have been working on it full-time without a salary since 2008. Our research has never had any government or institutional funding, so if you found the information here useful, please consider making a donation. Your gift is greatly appreciated.
     - Emily Ezust


Language: English after the German (Deutsch)

    Will-o'-the-wisps, the lads,
They run and tramp,
They are shod with air,
Doing useless mischief,
They like to discuss their doings with each other
By the glow of the lantern.
    What did you do?
Oh tell me.
   A frog's torso
Was peeking from out a swamp;
That annoyed me,
For a joke I burned
His snout with fire,
He croaked tremendously.
    So tell me now,
What was it that you did?
    A stag with antlers came along,
I sat myself upon his neck
Between his horns,
At that he raced through the thorns
With a snorting and a hurtling,
I fell on my nose.
    Now you tell me quickly
What did you do, comrade?
    The winds carried
Me far too swiftly;
Before I knew it
I saw a village;
The dogs barked there,
I immediately took myself off.
    And now, for a good night,
What did you do?
    A wanderer who knew
Neither roads nor pathways,
Chose me as his guiding light,
He kept following me, panting,
Then I extinguished my little spark,
And he was sunk.
    And the conversation is over
Then they hop off.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

English poem title: The conversation of the will-o'-the-wisps
English song title (Loewe): Will-o'-the-wisps


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2014 by Sharon Krebs, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on
  • a text in German (Deutsch) by Friedrich Rückert (1788 - 1866), "Gespräch der Irrlichter"
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Johann Karl Gottfried Loewe. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2014-02-13.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:29
Line count: 40
Word count: 187