by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Uri Liebrecht

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): CAT DUT ENG ENG ENG FIN FRE ITA ITA
Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er [hat]1 den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er [faßt]1 ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.
 
Mein Sohn, was birgst du so [bang]2 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]3;
[Meine]4 Mutter hat manch' [gülden]5 Gewand.«
 
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und [hörest]6 du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir [leise]7 verspricht? -
Sey 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]8 [wiegen und tanzen und singen]9 dich ein.«
 
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am [düstern Ort]10? -
Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh' es genau;
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau. -
 
»[Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt]11;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch' ich Gewalt.« -
Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein [Leids]12 gethan! -
 
Dem Vater grauset's, er reitet geschwind,
Er hält [in Armen]13 das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit [Mühe]14 und Noth;
In seinen Armen das Kind war todt.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Goethe's Werke, Vollständige Ausgabe letzter Hand, Erster Band, Stuttgart und Tübingen, in der J.G.Cottaschen Buchhandlung, 1827, pages 183-184; and with Goethe's Schriften, Achter Band, Leipzig, bey Georg Joachim Göschen, 1789, pages 157-158.

First published in 1782 in Goethe's Singspiel "Die Fischerin" in the introductory scene (Dortchen's song).

1 Schubert (first version), Spohr: "hält"
2 Spohr: "scheu"
3 Harder: "Manch bunte Blumen stehn an dem Strand"; Spohr: "Viel bunte Blumen sind am Strand"
4 Spohr: "Mein' "
5 Spohr: "güldnes"
6 Spohr: "hörst"
7 Spohr: "heimlich"
8 Schubert (4th version, in the repetition): "Sie"
9 Harder: "singen und tanzen und spielen"
10 Harder: "düstern Port"; Spohr und Hille: "düsteren Ort"
11 Harder: "Ich lieb' dich, mich reizt dein' schöne Gestalt"
12 Harder: "Leides"
13 Reissiger: "in den Armen", Spohr: "im Arme"
14 Schubert: "Müh'"

Authorship

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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Otokar Fischer) , "Král duchů"
  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , "Erlkoning", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Walter Meyer) , "Who's riding so late through night, so wild?", copyright © 1995, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Knut W. Barde) , "The Elfking", copyright © 1998, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Walter Scott, Sir) , "The Erl-King"
  • ENG English (Uri Liebrecht) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Le roi des aulnes", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Walter A. Aue) , "Elf-King", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Il re degli elfi", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Il Re degli Elfi", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Ofer Sheinberg , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2019-04-30 11:34:09
Line count: 32
Word count: 233

Who’s riding this late through the night...
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Who’s riding this late through the night so wild?
It is the father with his child;
He holds the boy tightly in his arm,
He’s keeping him warm and safe from harm.

“My son, what’s making you hide your face?”
“Father, don’t you see the Erl King giving chase?
The Erl King with his crown and his train?”
“My son, the mists are forming again.”

“My dear, dear child – come, come with me;
Wonderful games I’ll play with thee!
Many bright flowers grow there on the shore,
My mother’s gold dresses will fill you with awe.”

“Oh, Father, my Father, cannot you hear
What the Erl King is whispering in my ear?”
Hush, my child, now do keep calm,
The wind in the leaves will do you no harm.”

“Now, my fine lad, won’t you come with me?
My daughters will serve you most diligently.
My daughters love dancing the roundelay,
They’ll sing you to sleep at the end of the day.”


“Oh Father, dear Father, can’t you see, over there,
The Erl King’s daughters in the shadows? Beware!”
“My son, my boy, I see perfectly well
The old willow trees glowing grey in the dell.”


“I love you, you enchant me, and now, of course,
Come. If you’re not willing I shall have to use force.”
Oh Father, dear Father, he’s taken hold of me; 
The Erl King has done me a grave injury!


Filled with dread, the father rides on at speed,
The infant now groaning in dire need,
With one last effort they reach the homestead,
But now the child in his arms was dead!

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "Erlkönig" = "The Erl King"

Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © 2016 by Uri Liebrecht, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.

    Uri Liebrecht.  Contact: liebrecht (AT) mypostoffice (DOT) co (DOT) uk

    If you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:

Based on

 

Text added to the website: 2016-05-05 00:00:00
Last modified: 2016-05-05 22:03:24
Line count: 32
Word count: 269