by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation by Walter Scott, Sir (1771 - 1832)

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:

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

The Erl‑King
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
O who rides by night thro' the woodland so wild?
It is the fond father embracing his child;
And close the boy nestles within his loved arm,
To hold himself fast, and to keep himself warm.

"O father, see yonder! see yonder!" he says;
"My boy, upon what dost thou fearfully gaze?"
"O, 'tis the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud."
"No, my son, it is but a dark wreath of the cloud."
                              
The Erl-King Speaks:
  "O come and go with me, thou loveliest child;
  By many a gay sport shall thy time be beguiled;
  My mother keeps for thee many a fair toy,
  And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy."

"O father, my father, and did you not hear
The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?"
"Be still, my heart's darling -- my child, be at ease;
It was but the wild blast as it sung thro' the trees."

Erl-King:
  "O wilt thou go with me, thou loveliest boy?
  My daughter shall tend thee with care and with joy;
  She shall bear thee so lightly thro' wet and thro' wild,
  And press thee, and kiss thee, and sing to my child."

"O father, my father, and saw you not plain
The Erl-King's pale daughter glide past thro' the rain?"
"Oh yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;
It was the grey willow that danced to the moon."

Erl-King:
  "O come and go with me, no longer delay,
  Or else, silly child, I will drag thee away."
"O father! O father! now, now, keep your hold,
The Erl-King has seized me -- his grasp is so cold!"

Sore trembled the father; he spurr'd thro' the wild,
Clasping close to his bosom his shuddering child;
He reaches his dwelling in doubt and in dread,
But, clasp'd to his bosom, the infant was dead.

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)

    [ None yet in the database ]


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website: 2007-01-13 00:00:00
Last modified: 2015-04-01 22:00:24
Line count: 35
Word count: 308