Thursday, August 28, 2014

Louis Untermeyer's Translation of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe's "The Erl-King"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on this date in 1749. He is author of one of my favourite poems, "Der Erlkönig". Unfortunately, though poetry loses something in translation, I don't read German, so I am restricted to reading translated versions of the poem. I was introduced to the work through a Scholastic record I have had since I was a kid, Selections from "The Haunted House and Other Spooky Poems and Tales".  The disc contains a recording of Louis Untermeyer's translation of "The Erl-King". It might be the best piece on that recording.

It has been difficult to find Untermeyer's translation of "The Erl-King" elsewhere. However, I have finally found a site featuring that particular translation of Goethe's poem:

PowerOfBabel: The Erl-King
(scroll down past the illustrations)

This is my favourite translation of the poem. I think Untermeyer's translation is much better than Edgar Alfred Bowring's adaptation of the piece (which is featured alongside the original German and a literal English translation on the Wikipedia page for "Der Erlkönig".)

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