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Erlkoenig


Benjamin
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Goethe's Erlkoenig loosely retold. The Erlkoenig (Elf or Alderking) was a harbinger

of death in Danish / German folk lore.

 

Who rides so late through night and wind:

A father, with his child to tend.

He has the boy safe in his arm,

Drawn close in hope to keep him warm.

 

"My son, why hide your face in fear?"

"The Erlking father, don't you see

The Erlking's crown and flowing robe?"

"My son 'tis but a wisp of fog."

 

"Dear child, will you not come with me?

Such lovely games with you I'll play;

A host of blooms are at the shore,

My mother has gold clothes to share."

 

"Oh father! Father can't you hear

The things Erlking has promised me?"

"Be quiet boy! And pay no heed;

The rustling wind disturbs dry leaves."

 

"Fine boy will you not come with me?

My daughters for your company

Will do their dance for you to keep,

Then sing and rock you till you sleep."

 

"Oh father, look at yon dark place

Where Erking's daughters stand and wait!"

"My son I see it certainly,

The willow tree that looks so grey."

 

"I love you boy: charmed, by your form.

If you won't come, then I'll use force."

"Oh father, now he's grabbing me!

Erlking has hurt me, can't you see?"

 

The father shuddered then rode wild,

Held in his arms the moaning child.

Approached the farm in mortal dread,

For in his arms the child was dead.

 

Edited by Benjamin
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Very much enjoyed Benjamin, the dark magic of the folktale, the haunting quality reminded of Christabel. Perhaps some italics would emphasize who is speaking to whom.

 

badge

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Very effective use of dialog, Benjamin. The exchange between father and son is just long enough to keep the reader wanting to know what comes next. Any longer or shorter and the ending would not have packed the punch that it did.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Goethe's Erlkoenig loosely retold. The Erlkoenig (Elf or Alderking) was a harbinger

of death in Danish / German folk lore.

 

Who rides so late through night and wind:

A father, with his child to tend.

He has the boy safe in his arm,

Drawn close in hope to keep him warm.

 

"My son, why hide your face in fear?"

"The Erlking father, don't you see

The Erlking's crown and flowing robe?"

"My son 'tis but a wisp of fog."

 

"Dear child, will you not come with me?

Such lovely games with you I'll play;

A host of blooms are at the shore,

My mother has gold clothes to share."

 

"Oh father! Father can't you hear

The things Erlking has promised me?"

"Be quiet boy! And pay no heed;

The rustling wind disturbs dry leaves."

 

"Fine boy will you not come with me?

My daughters for your company

Will do their dance for you to keep,

Then sing and rock you till you sleep."

 

"Oh father, look at yon dark place

Where Erking's daughters stand and wait!"

"My son I see it certainly,

The willow tree that looks so grey."

 

"I love you boy: charmed, by your form.

If you won't come, then I'll use force."

"Oh father, now he's grabbing me!

The Erlking's hurt me, can't you see?"

 

The father shuddered then rode wild,

Held in his arms the moaning child.

Approached the farm in mortal dread,

For in his arms the child was dead.

 

 

 

Hello Benjamin

This is beautifully written, I love the melodious ring, rhythm and flow perfect.

The sense of urgency throughout, kept me engrossed, a sad tale. I think the "banshee", is the equivalant here..?

Best wishes

Rea

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Thanks Badge, I take your point. I have read a translation by Sir Walter Scott, where in brackets prior to the verse,it says (The phantom speaks) The original German text however,does not make any such indication and is pretty much as I have depicted.

Tony. It's difficult to do proper justice to the rhythm and rhymes in English due to the language variables. This is as close as I can make it in the 32 lines of tetrameter.. The first two lines of the original German text, “Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind? Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind.” indicate a horse-riding rhythm with their nine syllables. Pa-rappa-ta-tum-ti-tum-ti-tum/ Ti-tum-pa-rappa-ti-tum-ti-tum. They translate literally to, “Who rides so late through night and wind/ It is the father with his child.” Sir Walter Scott translated this poem into an expansive form of language, which in my opinion, loses its dark urgency along with the Germanic brevity.

Rea .Thanks for reading and leaving comment your words are appreciated. Yes the Banshee is an eqivolent malevolent spirit in Irish folklore although it is a feminine entity.

Edited by Benjamin
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Hi, I love reading poems that impart a knowledge I wouldn't otherwise come across. This piece is formal in its structure which seems very appropriate for the subject. I appreciate it is inspired by another writing in another language, that makes it all the more impressive. Thanks for this great read.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Tink. My thanks for taking the time to read and leave comment I'll have to consider scaring up something else now. :icon_eek:

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