by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation by Anonymous / Unidentified Author

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.

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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:

  • Also set in English, a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by John Wall Callcott.
  • Also set in English, a translation by William Bartholomew (1793 - 1867) ; composed by Anne Sheppard Mounsey.
  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Jules Abrassart (1826 - 1893) ; composed by Émile Louis Victor Mathieu.

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]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 233

The Erl King
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
Who is it that rides tro' the forest so fast,
Whilst night glooms around him, whilst chill roars the blast;
The Father who holds his young Son in his arm,
And close in his mantle has wrapt him up warm.

Why trembles my darling, why shrinks he with fear?
My Father, my Father, the Erl King is near,
The Erl King with his Crown and his beard long and white.
My Child, you're deceiv'd by the vapours of night.

If thou wilt, dear Baby, with me go away,
I'll give thee fine garments, we'll play a fine play;
Fine flowers are growing, white, scarlet and blue,
On the banks of yon river, and all are for you.

My Father, my Father, and dost thou not hear,
What words the Erl King whispers soft in my ear?
O hush thee, my Child, set thy bosom at ease,
Thou hear'st but the willows when murmurs the breeze.

If thou wilt, dear Baby, with me go away,
My daughter shall nurse thee so fair and so gay;
My daughter, in purple and gold who is drest,
Shall love thee and kiss thee and sing thee to rest.

My Father, my Father, and dost thou not see
The Erl King and his Daughter are waiting for me!
O shame thee, my Infant, 'tis fear makes thee blind,
Thou see'st the dark willows which wave in the wind.

I love thee, I doat on thy features so fine,
I must and will have thee, and force makes thee mine.
My Father, my FaWho is it that rides tro' the forest so fast,
Whilst night glooms around him, whilst chill roars the blast;
The Father who holds his young Son in his arm,
And close in his mantle has wrapt him up warm.

Why trembles my darling, why shrinks he with fear?
My Father, my Father, the Erl King is near,
The Erl King with his Crown and his beard long and white.
My Child, you're deceiv'd by the vapours of night.

If thou wilt, dear Baby, with me go away,
I'll give thee fine garments, we'll play a fine play;
Fine flowers are growing, white, scarlet and blue,
On the banks of yon river, and all are for you.

My Father, my Father, and dost thou not hear,
What words the Erl King whispers soft in my ear?
O hush thee, my Child, set thy bosom at ease,
Thou hear'st but the willows when murmurs the breeze.

If thou wilt, dear Baby, with me go away,
My daughter shall nurse thee so fair and so gay;
My daughter, in purple and gold who is drest,
Shall love thee and kiss thee and sing thee to rest.

My Father, my Father, and dost thou not see
The Erl King and his Daughter are waiting for me!
O shame thee, my Infant, 'tis fear makes thee blind,
Thou see'st the dark willows which wave in the wind.

I love thee, I doat on thy features so fine,
I must and will have thee, and force makes thee mine.
My Father, my Father, o hold me now fast,
He pulls me, he hurts me, he'll have me at last.

The Father, he trembled, he doubled his speed,
O'er hills and through forests he spurr'd his black steed:
But when he arriv'd at his own Castle door,
Life throbb'd in the poor Baby's bosom no more.ther, o hold me now fast,
He pulls me, he hurts me, he'll have me at last.

The Father, he trembled, he doubled his speed,
O'er hills and through forests he spurr'd his black steed:
But when he arriv'd at his own Castle door,
Life throbb'd in the poor Baby's bosom no more.

Authorship

Based on

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


Researcher for this text: Johann Winkler

This text was added to the website: 2020-04-07
Line count: 63
Word count: 619