Something about this song makes my hair stand up…
Who rides, so late, through night and wind?
It is the father with his child.
He has the boy well in his arm
He holds him safely, he keeps him warm.
“My son, why do you hide your face so anxiously?”
“Father, do you not see the Erl king?
The Erl king with crown and tail?”
“My son, it’s a wisp of fog.”
“You lovely child, come, go with me!
Many a beautiful game I’ll play with you;
Many colourful flowers are on the shore,
My mother has many golden robes.”
“My father, my father, and don’t you hear
What Erl king is quietly promising me?”
“Be calm, stay calm, my child;
The wind is rustling through withered leaves.”
“Do you want to come with me, dear boy?
My daughters shall wait on you fine;
My daughters will lead the nightly dance,
And rock and dance and sing you to sleep.”
“My father, my father, and don’t you see there
Erl king’s daughters in the gloomy place?”
“My son, my son, I see it clearly:
The old willows they shimmer so grey.”
“I love you, your beautiful form entices me;
And if you’re not willing, I shall use force.”
“My father, my father, he’s grabbing me now!
Erl king has done me some harm!”
The father shudders; he swiftly rides on,
He holds the moaning child in his arms,
is hardly able to reach his farm;
In his arms, the child was dead.