Home  »  library  »  Song  »  Gottfried August Bürger (1747–1794)

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Gottfried August Bürger (1747–1794)

The Witch

Translation of James Freeman Clarke

CHILD! attend to what I say:

Do not turn nor look away.

Roguish eye! you must not wink—

I shall tell you all I think.

Here! Hallo! Don’t look away.

Child! attend to what I say!

You’re not homely, that is true!

You’ve an eye that’s clear and blue;

Cunning mouth and little nose

Have their merits, I suppose.

Charming is the word to fit it,—

Yes, you’re charming; I admit it.

Charming here and charming there,

But no empress anywhere.

No! I cannot quite allow

Beauty’s crown would suit your brow.

Charming there and charming here

Do not make a queen, my dear.

For I know a hundred girls,

Brown as berries, fair as pearls,

Each of whom might claim the prize

Given to loveliest lips and eyes—

Yes, a hundred might go in,

Challenge you, sweet child, and win.

A hundred beauties, did I say?

Why, what a number! Yet there may

A hundred thousand girls combine

To drive thee from this heart of mine;

May try together, try alone,—

My empress they cannot dethrone.

Whence, then, this imperial right

Over me, your own true knight?

Like an empress is your reign

In my heart for joy or pain;

Death or life, your royal right,

He accepts—your own true knight.

Roguish lip and roguish eye,

Look at me and make reply.

Witch! I wish to understand

How I came into your hand.

Look at me and make reply:

Tell me, roguish lip and eye.

Up and down I search to see

The meaning of this mystery.

Tied so tight by nothing, dear?

Ah! there must be magic here!

Up and down, sweet sorceress, tell!

Where’s your wand, and what’s your spell?