Translation © by Laura Prichard

Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE ITA
Gunhilde lebt gar stille und fromm
In ihrem Klosterbann,
Bis sie ihr Beichtiger verführt,
Bis sie mit ihm entrann.

Er zog mit ihr wohl durch die Welt,
Sie lebten in Saus und Braus;
Der Mönch verübte Spiel und Trug,
Ging endlich auf den Raub.

Gunhilde ach, du armes Weib,
Gunhild, was fängst du an?
Sie steht allein im fremden Land,
Am Galgen hängt ihr Mann.

Sie weinet rot die Äugelein:
O weh, was ich getan!
Ich will nach Haus und Buße tun,
Der Sünden Straf empfahn.

Sie bettelte sich durch das Land,
Almosen sie da nahm,
Bis sie zum Rheine in den Wald,
Wohl vor das Kloster kam.

Sie pochet an das Klostertor,
Das Tor wird aufgetan;
Sie geht wohl vor die Äbtin stehn
Und fängt zu weinen an.

Hier nehmet das verlorne Kind,
O Mutter, das entrann,
Und laßt es harte Buße tun
In schwerem Kirchenbann.

Gunhilde, sprich, was willst du hier?
Laß solche Rede sein,
Hast ja gesessen im Gebet,
In deinem Kämmerlein.

Gunhilde, du mein heilig Kind,
Was klagest du dich an?
Willst du hier Kirchenbuße tun,
Was fang ich Ärmste an?

Sie führten sie ins Kämmerlein,
Ob sies gleich nicht verstand;
Der Engel, der ihr Stell vertrat,
Alsbald vor ihr verschwand.


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):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , title 1: "Gunhilde", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , title 1: "Gunhilde", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , title 1: "Gunhilde", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , title 1: "Gunhilde", copyright © 2016, (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: 2014-06-16 10:01:54
Line count: 40
Word count: 205

Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Gunhilde lived very quietly and piously
In her secluded cloister,
Until her Father Confessor seduced her,
Until she eloped with him.

He travelled with her throughout the world,
They lived through storm and tempest;
The monk gambled and cheated,
Becoming finally, a thief.

Gunhilde, alas, you poor woman,
Gunhilde, what have you become?
She remains alone in a foreign land,
Her spouse hangs on the gallows.

She cried until her eyes were red:
Oh no, what have I done!
I want to go home and do penance
And receive punishment for my sins.

She begged her way across the countryside,
She accepted alms,
Until she reached the forest at the edge of the Rhine,
And stood before the cloister.

She knocked at the door of the cloister,
The door opened wide;
She went in and stood right before the Abbess,
And began to cry.

Take in this prodigal child,
Oh Mother, who ran away,
And let her do harsh penance
According to strict church laws.

Gunhilde, tell me, what do you seek here?
Cease such talk,
For you have already been sitting in prayer
In your little cell.

Gunhilde, my holy child,
What are you crying about?
If you want to atone in church,
What shall I do, poor creature?

They showed her to her own little cell,
Although she did not realize [what was happening];
The Angel, that had taken her place,
Suddenly, before her eyes, vanished.

Translator's note: This poem is a parody in poetic meter, rhyme scheme, and dramatic structure of Goethe's more famous poem “Der Erlkönig” (1782), set by Schubert and others.


  • 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.

Based on


Text added to the website: 2016-04-10 00:00:00
Last modified: 2016-04-10 22:17:36
Line count: 40
Word count: 238