The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Huzzah, huzzah! His back is fairly
Turned about, the wizard old;
And I'll now his spirits rarely
To my will and pleasure mould!
His spells and orgies - hasn't I
Marked them all aright?
And I'll do wonders, shan't I?
And deeds of mickle might.

    Hear ye! hear ye!
    Hence! your spritely
    Office rightly,
    Featly showing!
    Toil, until with water clear, ye
    Fill the bath to overflowing!
Ho, thou battered broomstick! take ye
This old seedy coat and wear it -
Ha, thou household drudge!
I'll make ye
Do my bidding; ay, and fear it.
Don of legs a pair, now;
A head too, for the nonce!
To the river there, now
Bear the pail at once!

    Hear ye! hear ye!
    Hence! your spritely
    Office rightly,
    Featly showing!
    Toil, until with water clear, ye
    Fill the bath to overflowing.
See, 'tis off - 'tis at the river
In the stream the bucket flashes;
Now 'tis back - and down, or ever
You can wink, the burden dashes.
Again, again, and quicker!
The floor is in a swim,
And every stoup and bicker
Is running o'er the brim.

    Stop, now stop!
    You have granted
    All I wanted.
    Stop! O rot it!
    Running still?
    I'm like to drop!
    What's the word?
    I've clean forgot it!
Oh, the word, so strong and baleful,
To make it what it was before!
There it skips with pail on pailful -
Would thou wert a broom once more!
Still new streams he scatters,
Round and ever round me -
Oh, a hundred waters,
Rushing in, confound me!

    No - no longer,
    Can I brook it!
    I'll rebuke it!
    Vile abortion!
    Woe is me, my fears grow strong
    What grimacing, what contortion
Wilt thou, offspring of the devil,
Drench the house in hellish funning?
Even now, above the level
Of the door, the water's running.
Stop, wretch! won't you hear me?
You for this shall pay.
Only you come near me!
Stop, broom, stop, I say!

    Stop, I tell you,
    I'll not bear it,
    No, I swear it!
    Let me catch you,
    And upon the spot I'll fell you
    With my hatchet, and despatch
Back it comes - will nought prevent it?
If I only tackle to thee,
Soon, O Kobold! thou'lt repent it,
When the steel goes crashing thro' the
Bravely struck, and surely!
There it goes in twain;
Now I move securely,
And I breathe again!

    Woe and wonder!
    As it parted,
    Straight up started,
    'Quipped aright,
    Goblins twain that rush asunder.
    Help, O help, ye powers of might!

Deep and deeper grows the water
On the stairs and in the hall,
Rushing in with roar and clatter -
Lord and master, hear me call!
Ah, here comes the master -
Sore, sir, is my strait;
I raised this spirit faster
Far than I can lay't.

    "Broom, avaunt thee!
    To thy nook there!
    Lie, thou spook, there!
    Only answer,
    When for mine own ends I want thee,
    I, the master necromancer!"

1779, translation by W.E. Aytoun and T. Martin, 1859      


Versions --> German - English:   Bowring / Dyrsen / Zeydel
Interact --> Dual language - German & dictionary

© 1994-1999 Robert Godwin-Jones
Virginia Commonwealth University