Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (English translation)

  • Artist: Bertolt Brecht (Bert Brecht)
  • Featuring artist: Kurt Weill
  • Song: Die Moritat von Mackie Messer 5 translations
  • Translations: Constructed Language, English, Japanese, Romanian, Spanish
English translationEnglish

Ballad of Mack the Knife

And the shark, he has teeth;
he has them in his face.
And Macheath, he has a knife,
but no one sees the knife.
And the shark's fins are
red when he sheds blood;
Mack the Knife wears a glove
on which no sign of a crime can be seen.
By the green waters of the Thames
suddenly people drop down.
It is neither plague nor cholera,
it's said: Mack's about.
On a beautiful, blue-skied Sunday
a dead man lies on the Strand
and someone turns the corner,
the one they call Mack the Knife.
And Schmul Meier's still not been found,
and many such a rich man
and his money has Mack the Knife,
against whom no one can prove anything.
Jenny Towler was found
with a knife in her chest
and on the embankment there's Mack the Knife,
who knows nothing of any of it.
Where is Alfons Glite, the cab driver?
Will he ever see sunlight again?
Whoever could know,
Mack the Knife has no idea.
And the great fire in Soho,
seven children and an old man.
In the crowd Mack the Knife, whom
one asks nothing, and who knows nothing.
And the underage widow,
whose name everyone knows,
woke up and was defiled.
Mack, what was your price?
And some are in the dark,
and others are in the light.
But one only sees those in the light;
those in the dark one doesn't see.
But one only sees those in the light;
those in the dark one doesn't see.
Now here's the happy ending,
everything reconciled.
If the readies are to hand,
the ending is generally good.
Submitted by robert.tucker.794robert.tucker.794 on Sat, 25/04/2015 - 08:44

Die Moritat von Mackie Messer

QuestionfinderQuestionfinder    Sat, 25/04/2015 - 09:13

Hello, great translation.

I only have two suggestions:

Und es sind des Haifischs Flossen
rot, wenn dieser Blut vergießt

I think this is more like:

"And it's red, like the/a shark's fins
When this/the blood flows/spills/is shed"

"Ist das nötige Geld vorhanden,
ist das Ende meistens gut"

I think what Brecht might mean here is

"If the missing money is returned
then it didn't turn out so bad after all."

His works almost always have very strong political connotations, he was a neo-Marxist, so poking fun at the wealthier classes was something he enjoyed doing. He might be saying something "as long as they get their money back, the bourgeoisie doesn't care how many people makcie the knife kills."

robert.tucker.794robert.tucker.794    Sat, 25/04/2015 - 10:15

One should realize it's not about the shark spilling its/his own blood.

Regarding money, I think it means that with money you can get anything done. Those in the light and those in darkness may be far from Biblical. It's probably more like those in the spotlight, the key players, and those moving behind the scenes. So, I think it's maybe talking about paid assassin jobs, hush money, immoral ransoms etc.

QuestionfinderQuestionfinder    Sat, 25/04/2015 - 10:19

Fair enough of the second point,but on the blood: Just because the blood is on the shark's fin, doesn't mean it's the shark's blood Wink smile

YanogatorYanogator    Fri, 20/09/2019 - 03:17

I've always read it as "And the shark's fins are red, when it sheds blood", contrasting that with Mackie, who wears gloves to avoid the incriminating evidence, so I agree with the original translation.

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