No Comment — December 3, 2007, 12:05 am

Goethe’s ‘Zauberlehrling’

bosch-conjurer

Hat der alte Hexenmeister
Sich doch einmal wegbegeben!
Und nun sollen seine Geister
Auch nach meinem Willen leben.
Seine Wort’ und Werke
Merkt ich und den Brauch,
Und mit Geistesstärke
Tu ich Wunder auch.

Walle! walle!
Manche Strecke,
Daß, zum Zwecke,
Wasser fließe
Und mit reichem, vollem Schwalle
Zu dem Bade sich ergieße.

Und nun komm, du alter Besen!
Nimm die schlechten Lumpenhüllen;
Bist schon lange Knecht gewesen;
Nun erfülle meinen Willen!
Auf zwei Beinen stehe,
Oben sei ein Kopf,
Eile nun und gehe
Mit dem Wassertopf!

Walle! walle
Manche Strecke,
Daß, zum Zwecke,
Wasser fließe
Und mit reichem, vollem Schwalle
Zu dem Bade sich ergieße.

Seht, er läuft zum Ufer nieder;
Wahrlich! ist schon an dem Flusse,
Und mit Blitzesschnelle wieder
Ist er hier mit raschem Gusse.
Schon zum zweiten Male!
Wie das Becken schwillt!
Wie sich jede Schale
Voll mit Wasser füllt!

Stehe! stehe!
Denn wir haben
Deiner Gaben
Vollgemessen! -
Ach, ich merk es! Wehe! wehe!
Hab ich doch das Wort vergessen!

Ach, das Wort, worauf am Ende
Er das wird, was er gewesen.
Ach, er läuft und bringt behende!
Wärst du doch der alte Besen!
Immer neue Güsse
Bringt er schnell herein,
Ach! und hundert Flüsse
Stürzen auf mich ein.

Nein, nicht länger
Kann ich’s lassen;
Will ihn fassen.
Das ist Tücke!
Ach, nun wird mir immer bänger!
Welche Miene! welche Blicke!

O du Ausgeburt der Hölle!
Soll das ganze Haus ersaufen?
Seh ich über jede Schwelle
Doch schon Wasserströme laufen.
Ein verruchter Besen,
Der nicht hören will!
Stock, der du gewesen,
Steh doch wieder still!

Willst’s am Ende
Gar nicht lassen?
Will dich fassen,
Will dich halten
Und das alte Holz behende
Mit dem scharfen Beile spalten.

Seht, da kommt er schleppend wieder!
Wie ich mich nur auf dich werfe,
Gleich, o Kobold, liegst du nieder;
Krachend trifft die glatte Schärfe.
Wahrlich! brav getroffen!
Seht, er ist entzwei!
Und nun kann ich hoffen,
Und ich atme frei!

Wehe! wehe!
Beide Teile
Stehn in Eile
Schon als Knechte
Völlig fertig in die Höhe!
Helft mir, ach! ihr hohen Mächte!

Und sie laufen! Naß und nässer
Wird’s im Saal und auf den Stufen.
Welch entsetzliches Gewässer!
Herr und Meister! Hör mich rufen! -
Ach, da kommt der Meister!
Herr, die Not ist groß!
Die ich rief, die Geister,
Werd ich nun nicht los.

“In die Ecke,
Besen! Besen!
Seid’s gewesen.
Denn als Geister
Ruft euch nur, zu seinem Zwecke,
Erst hervor der alte Meister.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Der Zauberlehrling (1797)

An English reading:

The Disney/Dukas Masterwork:

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2017

Tyranny of the Minority

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Texas is the Future

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Family Values

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Itchy Nose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Black Like Who?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Matter of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Texas is the Future·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Itchy Nose·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Artwork (detail) © The Kazuto Tatsuta/Kodansha Ltd
Article
A Matter of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Edwin Tse
Article
Black Like Who?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Amount Miller Brewing spends each year to promote its Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund:

$300,000

In Zambia an elephant fought off fourteen lionesses, in South Africa a porcupine fought off thirteen lionesses and four lions, in Maine voters chose to continue baiting bears with doughnuts, and in the Yukon drunken Bohemian waxwings were detained in modified hamster cages.

It was reported that education secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother, the founder of a private military company whose employees were convicted of killing 17 unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007, would be providing China with military training.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today