The Erl King


Who’s riding this late through the night so wild?
It is the father with his child;
He holds the boy tightly in his arm,
He’s keeping him warm and safe from harm.

"My son, what’s making you hide your face?"
"Father, don’t you see the Erl King giving chase?
The Erl King with his crown and his train?"
"My son, the mists are forming again."

"My dear, dear child – come, come with me;
Wonderful games I’ll play with thee!
Many bright flowers grow there on the shore,
My mother’s gold dresses will strike you with awe."

"Oh, Father, my Father, cannot you hear
What the Erl King is whispering in my ear?"
Hush, my child, now do keep calm,
The wind in the leaves will do you no harm."

"Now, my fine lad, won’t you come with me?
My daughters will serve you most diligently.
My daughters love dancing the roundelay,
They’ll sing you to sleep at the end of the day."

"Oh Father, dear Father, can’t you see, over there,
The Erl King’s daughters in the shadows? Beware!"
"My son, my boy, I see perfectly well
The old willow trees glowing grey in the dell."

"I love you, you enchant me, and now, of course,
Come. If you’re not willing I shall have to use force."
Oh Father, dear Father, he’s taken hold of me;
The Erl King has done me a grave injury!

Filled with dread, the father rides on at speed,
The infant now groaning in dire need,
With one last effort they reach the homestead,
But now the child in his arms was dead!