by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Es war eine Ratt' im Kellernest
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG IRI ITA
Es war eine Ratt' im Kellernest,
Lebte nur von Fett und Butter,
[Hatte]1 sich ein Ränzlein angemäst't,
Als wie der Doctor Luther.
Die Köchin hatt' ihr Gift gestellt;
Da ward's so eng' ihr in der Welt,
Als [hätte]2 sie Lieb' im Leibe.

Sie fuhr herum, sie fuhr heraus
Und soff aus allen Pfützen,
Zernagt', zerkratzt' das ganze Haus,
[Wollt']3 nichts ihr Wüten nützen;
Sie tät' gar manchen Ängstesprung,
Bald [hatte]1 das arme Tier genung
Als hätt' [es]4 Lieb' im Leibe.

Sie kam [für]5 Angst am hellen Tag
Der Küche zugelaufen,
Fiel an den Herd und zuckt' und lag,
Und tät erbärmlich schnaufen.
Da lachte die [Vergifterinn]6 noch:
Ha! sie pfeift auf dem letzten Loch,
Als [hätte]2 sie Lieb' im Leibe.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Busoni, Kreutzer, Radziwill, Wagner: "Hatt' "
2 Busoni, Kreutzer, Radziwill, Wagner: "hätt' "
3 Radziwill: "Wollte"
4 Busoni, Kreutzer, Wagner: "sie"
5 Busoni, Kreutzer, Radziwill, Wagner: "vor"
6 Busoni, Kreutzer, Wagner: "Vergift'rin"


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Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Gérard Labrunie) , no title, appears in Le Faust de Goethe [an adaptation]
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Cantina di Auerbach a Lipsia", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-12-17 16:57:58
Line count: 21
Word count: 120

There once was a rat nesting in a cellar
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
There once was a rat nesting in a cellar,
Who lived only on lard and butter,
Who had a paunch on it,
As fat as Doctor Luther.
The cook laid out poison for it;
It seemed as though, in all the world,
As if love had [consumed] its body.

It ran hither, it ran thither,
And lapped at all the puddles,
Gnawed, scratched around the whole house,
But there was no use for its madness;
It leapt all over in pain,
Soon the poor creature had ached
As if love [had consumed its] body.

It made it [in spite of]1 pain until the break of day
Running into the kitchen,
Fell on the hearth and twitched and lay prone,
And wheezed pitifully.
Then [she] laughed, the poisoner:
"Ha! it is on his last legs,
As if love had [consumed] its body."

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Busoni, Kreutzer, Radziwill, Wagner: "from"
Note: the other textual variants do not affect the translation.


  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard, (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.

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Text added to the website: 2016-02-01 00:00:00
Last modified: 2016-02-01 12:17:46
Line count: 21
Word count: 141