by Adelbert von Chamisso (1781 - 1838)
Translation by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863)

There liv'd a sage in days of yore
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
There liv'd a sage in days of yore
And he a handsome pigtail wore
But wonder'd much and sorrow'd more,
Because it hung behind him.

He mus'd upon this curious case,
And swore he'd change the pigtail's place,
And have it hanging at his face
Not dangling there behind him

Says he, "The mystery I've found, --
I'll turn me round," --
He turn'd round,
But still it hung behind him.

Then round and round, and out and in,
All day the puzzled sage did spin;
In vain -- it matter'd not a pin --
The pigtail hung behind him.

And right and left, and round about,
And up and down, and in and out,
He turn'd, but still the pigtail stout
Hung steadily behind him.

And though his efforts never slack,
And though he twist, and twirl, and take,
Alas, still faithful to his back,
The pigtail hangs behind him.

About the headline (FAQ)

First published in Fraser's Magazine, May 1838


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: Tom White

This text was added to the website: 2007-10-01
Line count: 24
Word count: 147