Who rides so late through windy night?
A father holding his child tight.
He has the youngster well in his arm,
He keeps him safe. He keeps him warm.
“My son, what twists your face with bother?”
“Don’t you see the Erlking, father?
The Erlking with crown and shroud?”
“My son, it’s but a sliver of cloud.”
Lovely, lovely child, come with me.
Such wondrous games you will see.
What bright flowers there are by the shore,
What royal clothes my mother has in store.
“Father, my father, are you listening
To what the Erlking is promising?”
“Child, calm yourself, be calm, please.
It’s just the wind rustling dried leaves.”
Sweet boy, don’t make such a fuss;
My daughters are waiting on us.
My daughters sing the nightly tunes
to cradle you beneath the moon.
“Don’t you see, father, Erlking’s daughters
Luring me into darkness, father?”
“My son, my son, it’s just a willow
That on this night so grayly glows.”
My lovely, if I can’t coerce
Your sweet form, I’ll have to use force.
“Father, my father, I’m in his grasp!”
The child wails his pain. Erlking laughs.
The father pushes his steed.
Holding the crying child, he speeds
Toward the farm farther ahead;
When he arrives, the child is dead.
Ich liebe dich, mich
reizt deine schöne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.
Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!
© 2005-2010 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas