Advertisements

Der Erlkönig (English translation)

English translationEnglish
A A

The Alder-King

Versions: #1#2#3
Who rides so late through night and wind?
It's the father with his child;
He has the young lad safe in his arm,
He holds him tightly, he keeps him warm
 
"My son, why do you hide your face, so frightened?"-
"Don't you see, father, the Alder-King?
The Alder-King with his crown and tail?"-
"My son, it's a wisp of fog."
 
"You sweet child, come, go with me!
Such beautiful games I'll play with you;
There are lots of beautiful flowers on the shore;
My mother has many golden clothes"-
 
"My father, my father, and don't you hear,
What the Alder-King promises me softly?"-
"Hush now, stay quiet, my child;
The wind is whispering in dry leaves."-
 
"Do you want, fine lad, to go with me?
My daughters shall wait on you, hand and foot;
My daughters lead the nightly dance,
And they'll show you how to sway and dance and sing."-
 
"My father, my father, and don't you see
Alder-King's daughters in that dark place?"-
"My son, my son, I see it clearly:
The old willows shimmer so gray.-"
 
"I love you, your beautiful shape tantalizes me;
And if you are not willing, I'm going to use force."-
"My father, my father, now he's grabbing me!
Alder-King hurt me!"-
 
The father is filled with horror, he rides quickly
He holds the groaning child in his arm,
He just barely reaches the homestead
The child was dead in his arms.
 
Thanks!
thanked 54 times
Submitted by QuestionfinderQuestionfinder on Wed, 13/08/2014 - 02:23
Last edited by QuestionfinderQuestionfinder on Tue, 19/04/2016 - 21:49
Author's comments:

Suggestions are always welcome
Vorschläge sind willkommen
I translated the title "literally." Erl means "Alder" in german, which is a genus of plant. I imagine it may refer to the Erlkönig's forest habitat. It is usually translated as "Elf-king."

5
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
GermanGerman

Der Erlkönig

Comments
SilentRebel83SilentRebel83    Wed, 13/08/2014 - 10:58
5

great job!

just one thing on the 3rd line of the first verse:
"Indeed, he has the young land in his arm," land --> lad

malucamaluca    Fri, 15/08/2014 - 01:06

Proofreading:

"Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm"
I would have probably translated like this: He has the young lad safely in his arm
"wohl" here means something like: well, good (in my opinion)

"why do you hid you face, so frighten?" wouldn't it be:
why do you hide your face, so frightened?

"Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein"
I interpret this as:
And they'll show you how to sway and dance and sing

Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt.
-> And if you are not willing, I'm going to use force

In the last verse it is somehow important to keep present tense except for the last line because that has been subject for discussions for centuries: Why did Goethe change from present to past tense in the last line of this poem? What does it mean? So:

The father is filled with horror, he rides quickly
He holds the groaning child in his arm,
(He just barely reaches the field) -> Hof does not mean field, it could be either courtyard in front of the house or short for "Bauernhof", farm. I'd translate:
He just barely reaches home / the homestead
The child was dead in his arms.

Otherwise good job Regular smile

malucamaluca    Fri, 15/08/2014 - 12:41

Oh, and maybe to have the same dramatic effect as in the german version, rearrange the word order in the last line:

The child in his arms was dead.

PaceinatorPaceinator    Tue, 19/04/2016 - 14:09

Alder-king?? "Elrkoenig" translates to (as I was taught in 9th grade) Elf-king. Watch "The Hobbit" in german if you don't think so.

QuestionfinderQuestionfinder    Tue, 19/04/2016 - 21:45

See the wiki article for an explanation of why I worded it that way:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Erlkönig

The German word for elf is actually "Elb." (see "Elbenkrieger" here: http://www.amazon.de/Zwergenkinder-Band-01-Magie-Zwerge/dp/350512897X )"Erl" corresponds to a kind of plant, called "alder" in English. My guess is that it corresponds to the forest-habit of the being/creature, which is also why it would be make sense to call the king of the Forest elves Erlkoenig. Though, I haven't seen the German version myself. I wonder if perhaps they actually say Elbenkoenig?

Read about music throughout history