Elfenlied

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Elfenlied
by Eduard Mörike, translator not mentioned
"Elfenlied" (lit. "elf song") is a poem written in German by Eduard Mörike that was adapted into a lied by Hugo Wolf.

The poem[edit]

Bei Nacht im Dorf der Wächter rief: Elfe!
Ein ganz kleines Elfchen im Walde schlief
wohl um die Elfe!
Und meint, es rief ihm aus dem Tal
bei seinem Namen die Nachtigall,
oder Silpelit hätt' ihm gerufen.
Reibt sich der Elf' die Augen aus,
begibt sich vor sein Schneckenhaus
und ist als wie ein trunken Mann,
sein Schläflein war nicht voll getan,
und humpelt also tippe tapp
durch's Haselholz in's Tal hinab,
schlupft an der Mauer hin so dicht,
da sitzt der Glühwurm Licht an Licht.
Was sind das helle Fensterlein?
Da drin wird eine Hochzeit sein:
die Kleinen sitzen bei'm Mahle,
und treiben's in dem Saale.
Da guck' ich wohl ein wenig 'nein!«
Pfui, stößt den Kopf an harten Stein!
Elfe, gelt, du hast genug?
Gukuk!

Translation:[edit]

At night in the village the watchman cried "Elf!"(english meaning "elf. Like dark elf")
A very small elf was asleep in the wood -
just around the elf! - (female elf)
And he thinks that the nightingale
must have called him by name from the valley,
or Silpelit might have sent for him. [2]
So the elf rubs his eyes,
comes out of his snail-shell house,
and is like a drunken man,
his nap was not finished;
and he hobbles down, tip tap,
through the hazel wood into the valley,
slips right up to the wall;
there sits the glow-worm, light on light.
"What are those bright windows?
There must be a wedding inside;
the little people are sitting at the feast,
and fooling around in the ballroom.
So I'll just take a peep in!"
Shame! he hits his head on hard stone!
Well, elf, had enough, have you?
Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

Notes[edit]

^1 In German elf also means "eleven", "wohl um die Elfe" => "just at eleven"
^2 Silpelit is a character's name from a Mörike's masterpiece, "Eduard auf dem Seil"