Supplementary Appendix 201.1

Goethe’s “The Magician’s Apprentice” [*]

So he's gone, the old magician,
And alone for once I find me:
And now I've a slight suspicion
That I'll make his spirits mind me.
'Marked each look and saying
Well, as he went through;
And, with sprites obeying,
I'll work wonders too.

Wander! wander!
Faster! faster!
Bring your master
Water gushing
From the fountain; let it thunder
Down the bath, in torrents rushing.


And now come, old broom! bestir thee;
Fling the tattered mop-cloths round thee.
Thou hast long served late and early;
To my bidding now I've bound thee.
With two legs to stand on,
Head, hands, and what not,
Broom! as I command, on,
On, with water-pot!

Wander! wander!
Faster! faster!
Bring your master
Water gushing
From the fountain; let it thunder
Down the bath, in torrents rushing.

See him! down the bank he's running;
See him at the stream already;
Back like lightning, see! the cunning
Rogue pours out his pails full steady.
Once more! See him hasten!
High the bath-floor swells.
How each trough and basin
Full with water fills!


Stay now! stay now!
Ample measure
Of thy treasure
Thou hast given! —
Woe is me! What shall I say now?
I've forgot the word, by Heaven! —

Ah! the word whereby the master
Makes him what he hath been ever!
Ah! he runs, and brings yet faster!
Would thou wert th' old broomstick clever!
Waiting for no warrant,
Back and forth flies he,
Torrent upon torrent
Showering down on me.

No, no longer
shall he please him;
No, I'll seize him.
Curse such creatures!
As he runs, the imp grows stronger!
See, what gestures! see, what features!

O, thou child of hell, unblushing!
Wilt not rest till thou has drowned me?
O'er the sills already rushing,
Streams of water rise around me.
Cursed broomstick! never
Wilt thou give this o'er?
Be a broom as ever!
Stand stock still once more!

Wilt thou never,
Never hear me?
Now, then, fear me!
Now I'll stop thee!
Come, thou sharp, strong axe, deliver!
Head from trunk, old wood, I'll lop thee!

See! this way now he comes hobbling!
How I'll seize him! how I'll split him!
Quick I'll bring you down, old goblin!
Crashing hear the sharp axe hit him!
'Twas a brave stroke, surely!
He's in two now, see!
Now I'll hope securely,
Now I'll breathe more free!

Woe! another!
Both halves, springing
Up, come bringing
Water, water!
Each would fain outdo the other:
Heavens! O, cut my anguish shorter!

And they scamper! Wet and wetter
On the steps, and in the hall now!
What a deluge! what a litter!
Lord and Master, hear me call now!
Ah! here comes the master!
Lord, they sprites run free!
In a sad disaster
Thou beholdest me.

"Back to the corner,
Besom! besom!
Back in season!
For, as spirit,
Thou must not mind every learner;
When the master summons, hear it."



[*] Select Minor Poems translated from the German of Goethe and Schiller,
trans. John S. Dwight (Boston 1839), 82–85; illustrations in order: F. Barth (ca. 1882); by unknown artist. Karl Friedrich Zelter’s composition from Zelter’s Sammlung kleiner Balladen und Lieder in Musik gesetzt fürs Forte Piano von C. F. Zelter, Heft 1 (Hamburg [ca 1802/03]); here the first two pages of the ten-page score. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott