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Earl King Poem
Posted by: userlynn (
Date: April 17, 2003 02:45PM

I would like to find this poem about a father running through the night with his sick son, but when he gets there the son is dead. It used to be in an old school literature book.

Re: Earl King Poem
Posted by: Pam Adams (---)
Date: April 17, 2003 03:16PM

This one? You can find more information here. [] />

The Erl-King

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care.
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Full sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.

-- Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Re: Earl King Poem
Posted by: Tom Hamblett (
Date: April 21, 2003 10:22PM

That was one of my favorites in fifth grade. I have lost the words as that was in the early seventies. I seem to remember it started like this.

Who rides so late in a night so wild
a father is riding with his child
he grasps the boy close in his arms
he holds him tightly he keeps him warm

That is all I remember and I have not found it since. Maybe others can help.

Re: Earl King Poem
Posted by: RJAllen (193.114.111.---)
Date: April 22, 2003 08:28AM

It's probably best-known as a song by Schubert. There are loads of recordings Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore did a very fine one.

Re: Earl King Poem
Posted by: Cat (
Date: January 18, 2005 11:05AM

Yes, I had the same translation as Tim Hamblett had as a child. I believe it to be an excellent one , not so much in verbatim translation, but in terms of capturing the feel of the poem in an English which is accessible enough to a 7 or 8 year old child. This is strictly from memory, from certainly about 33 years ago, but the translation is catchy, so I think it is pretty close to the original.
It came up in my mind several nights ago, as I was entertaining my son and his friend with spooky stories by the fireplace on a chilly evening.
Here goes;

Who rides so late on a night so wild?
A Father is riding with his Child.
He clasps the Boy close in his arm.
He holds him tightly, he keeps him warm.

"My son, You are trembling, what do You fear?"

"Look Father, the Erl-King, He's coming near
With his Crown and his Shroud, Yes, that is He"

"My Son, it is only the Mists that You see."

"O, lovely Boy,, O, come with Me,
Such Games we'll play, how glad We'll be.
Such Flowers to pick'
Such Sights to behold.
My Mother will make You Clothes of Gold."

"O, Father, O, Father, do You not hear
The Erl-King whispering in my Ear?"

"Be still, my Child, lie quietly
It is only the Wind in the Leaves of the Tree."

"Dear Boy, if You will but come away
My Daughters will wait on You Everyday
They'll give you the prettiest Presents to keep
They'll dance when you wake
And they'll sing you to Sleep"

"Look Father, O, Father, do you not see?
The Erl-Kings pale Daughters waiting for Me?"

"My Son, my Son, I see what you say
The Willow is waving, it 's Branches are grey."

" I love You, Child, so come without Fear or Remorse
And if you're not willing, I'll take you by Force!"

" O, Father, Dear Father, tighten your Hold!
The Erl-King has caught me, his Fingers are cold!"

"The Father shudders, He spurs on his Steed,
He carries the Child with desperate Speed.
He reaches the Courtyard, and looks down with dread
For there in his Arms, the Boy lies dead."

It seemed like this was on a record with a book, a compilation of spooky stories and poems published by Scholastic, called " The Haunted House" or something?
My son loves the poem and hopes there is no such thing as an Erl-King or an Elf King , or anything else that snatches children's souls away.

Re: Earl King Poem
Posted by: taltom63 (68.0.79.---)
Date: June 09, 2011 11:45PM

This is what I remember

Who rides so late in a nite so wild.
A Father is riding with his child.
He clasps the boy close in his arms.
He holds him tightly. He keeps him warm

My son, you are trembling, what do you fear?
Look Father, the Earl king, he is coming near.
With his crown and his shroud, yes that is he.
My son, it's only the mist you see.

Oh dear boy, oh come with me.
Such games we'll play, so glad we'll be.
Such flowers to pick, such sights to behold.
My mother will make you clothes of gold.

Oh Father, my Father, do you not hear?
The Earl King whispering in my ear?
Lie still my son, lie quietly.
It's only the wind in the leaves of the tree.

Oh dear boy, if you will come away,
My daughters will waith on you every day.
They'll give you the prettiest presents to keep.
They'll dance when you wake, and sing you to sleep.

Oh Father, my Father, do you not see?
The Earl King's pale daughters waiting for me?
My son, my son, I see what you say.
The willow is waving its branches of grey.

Oh dear boy, oh come with me without fear or remorse,
and if you're not willing, I'll take you by force.
Oh Father, my Father, tighten your hold.
The Earl King has caught me, his fingers are cold.

The father shutters, he spurs on his steed.
He carries the child with desperate speed.
He reaches the courtyard and looks down with dread.
There in his arms, the boy lies dead.

I also remember this from 5th grade. There was a book sale, and one of the books had ghost stories. The Earl King was in there, as well as The Velvet Ribbon and The Wreck of the Hesperus. I've put what I can remember. It's not verbatim, but it's the best I can do after 47 years.

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