by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Es war einmal ein König
Language: German (Deutsch) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG FRE ITA
Es war einmal ein König,
Der hatt' einen [großen Floh,]1
Den liebt' er gar nicht wenig,
[Als]2 wie seinen eig'nen Sohn.
Da rief er seinen Schneider,
Der Schneider kam heran;
["Da, miß dem Junker Kleider
Und miß ihm Hosen an!"]3

In Sammet und in Seide
War er [nun]4 angetan,
Hatte Bänder auf dem Kleide,
Hatt' auch ein Kreuz daran,
Und war [sogleich]5 Minister,
Und hatt einen großen Stern.
Da wurden seine Geschwister
Bei Hof auch große Herrn.

Und Herrn und Frau'n am Hofe,
Die waren sehr geplagt,
Die Königin und die Zofe
Gestochen und [genagt,]6
Und durften [sie nicht knicken,]7
Und [weg sie]8 jucken nicht.
Wir [knicken]9 und ersticken
Doch gleich, wenn einer sticht.10

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Walter: "Skorpion"
2 Walter: "Fast"
3 Walter: "Und maß dem Junker Kleider / Und ein paar Höschen an."
4 Walter: "bald"
5 Walter: "zugleich"
6 Walter: "zernagt"
7 Walter: "doch nicht zwicken"
8 Walter: "auch sich"
9 Walter: "drücken"
10 Here Röntgen has the chorus sing the following (the last two lines come from later in the same scene):
Wir knicken und ersticken
Doch gleich wenn einer sticht.
Uns ist ganz kannibalisch wohl,
Als wie fünfhundert Säuen!

Authorship

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

Set in a modified version by Conradin Kreutzer.

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) [singable] (Lau Kanen) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "There once was a king", copyright ©
  • FRE French (Français) (Angelika Frenzel) , "Chanson de la puce", copyright © 2003, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Amelia Maria Imbarrato) , "Canzone della Pulce", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2017-05-12 11:01:45
Line count: 24
Word count: 114

There once was a king
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
There once was a king
who had a large flea
whom he loved not a bit less
than his very own son.
He called his tailor
and the tailor came directly;
"Here - make clothing for this knight,
and cut him trousers too!"

In silk and satin
was the flea now made up;
 he had ribbons on his clothing,
and he had also a cross there,
and had soon become a minister
and had a large star.
Then his siblings became
great lords and ladies of the court as well.

And the lords and ladies of the court
were greatly plagued;
the queen and her ladies-in-waiting
were pricked and bitten,
and they dared not flick
or scratch them away.
But we flick and crush them
as soon as one bites!

Authorship

  • Translation from German (Deutsch) to English copyright © by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive -- https://www.lieder.net/

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.


Based on

 

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:30
Line count: 24
Word count: 130