by Christian Morgenstern (1871 - 1914)
Translation © by Gary Bachlund (b. 1947)

Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): ENG FRE
Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: "Bitte, beuge mich!"

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

"Der Werwolf" - sprach der gute Mann,
"des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie man's nennt,
den Wenwolf, - damit hat's ein End."

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
"Indessen," bat er, "füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!"

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, dass er von ihr nichts wußte,
Zwar Wölfe gäb's in großer Schar,
doch "Wer" gäb's nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind -
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

About the headline (FAQ)

Authorship

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 or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Gary Bachlund) , rhymed paraphrase, copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Le loup-garou", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-10-23
Line count: 24
Word count: 134

One night a Were‑wolf slipped away
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
One night a Were-wolf slipped away
From his Were-wife and his Were-wolf child,
To the grave of a rotten schoolmaster
To decline himself as noun-beguiled.

Ghost-like gray the schoolmaster rose
From out of the gravestone's head,
And spoke to the Wolf, crossed paws suppose
To beseech a philologist long dead:

"The Were-wolf," spoke the spirited man,
"Of the Were-wolf, in the genitive penned,
To the Were-wolf, is the dative scan,
And objective, a Were-wolf; that's the end."

Such cases flattered the wolf called Were,
Its Were-wolf eyeballs rolling widely wide.
"However tense, all remains a blur;
What's singular? What's plural?" he cried.

Alas the corrupted schoolmaster confessed
"Incorruptible are most grammatical rules.
While wolves is plural, as you've guessed,
Wolf is singular, in most of our grammar schools."

With this, the Were-wolf howled and cried,
"I am not singular! I've a wife and child!"
And so the Were-wolf rushed home to bride
And Were-wolf child, tensely reconciled.

About the headline (FAQ)

Authorship

Based on

 
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2010-02-03
Line count: 24
Word count: 157