by Walter De la Mare (1873 - 1956)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

Tit for tat
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
Have you been catching [of]1 fish, Tom Noddy? 
  Have you snared a weeping hare? 
Have you whistled "No Nunny" and gunned a poor bunny,
  Or blinded a bird of the air? 

Have you trod like a murderer through the green woods,
  Through the dewy deep dingles and glooms,
While every small creature screamed shrill to Dame Nature
  "He comes - and he comes!"? 

Wonder I very much do, Tom Noddy,
  If ever, when [you are a-roam]2,
An Ogre from space will stoop a lean face,
  And lug you home: 

Lug you home over his fence, Tom Noddy,
  Of thorn-sticks nine yards high,
With your bent knees strung round his old iron gun
  And your head a dan-dangling by: 

And hang you up stiff on a hook, Tom Noddy,
  From a stone-cold pantry shelf,
Whence your eyes will glare in an empty stare,
  Till [you're]3 cooked yourself!

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Britten.
2 Britten: "off you roam"
3 Britten: "you are"


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):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Un prêté pour un rendu", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Wie du mir, so ich dir", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 146

Un prêté pour un rendu
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
As-tu attrapé du poisson, Tom Noddy ?
As-tu pris au piège un lièvre qui pleurait ?
As-tu sifflé "Non, mamie" et tiré un pauvre lapin,
Ou rendu aveugle un oiseau des airs ?

As-tu marché comme un assassin à travers les bois verts,
À travers les vallées et les ténèbres profondes et couvertes de rosée,
Tandis que toutes les petits êtres lançaient des cris stridents à Dame Nature
"Il arrive, il arrive !" ?

Je serais vraiment émerveillé, Tom Noddy,
Si jamais, quand tu vagabondes,
Un ogre venu de l'espace inclinait sa face maigre
Et t'entraînait chez lui :

T'entraînait chez lui au-dessus de sa barrière, Tom Noddy,
De branches d'épineux, de neuf mètres de haut,
Avec tes genoux pliés attachés autour de son vieux fusil en fer
Et ta tête se bal-balançant :

Et t'aurait pendu bien raide à un crochet, Tom Noddy,
À une étagère du garde-manger en pierre froide
D'où tes yeux vides lanceraient des regards furieux
Jusqu'à ce que tu sois cuit toi-même !


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 by Guy Laffaille, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2011-06-29
Line count: 20
Word count: 168