Short Declamation Piece: The Erl-King
Oh who rides by night through the woodland so wild?
It is the fond father embracing his child;
And close the boy nestles within his loved arm,
To hold himself fast and to keep himself warm.
“Oh Father, see yonder! See yonder!” he says;
“My boy, upon what do you fearfully gaze?”
“Oh, it is the Erl-King with his crown and his shroud.”
“No, my son, it it but a dark wreath of the cloud.”
“Oh come and go with me, you lovely child;
By many a gay sport shall your time be beguiled;
My mother keeps for you full many a fair toy,
And many a fine flower shall she pluck for my boy.”
“Oh Father, my Father, and did you not hear
The Erl-King whisper so low in my ear?”
“Be still, my heart’s darling – my child, be at ease;
It was but the wild blast as it sang through the trees.”
“Oh, will you go with me, you lovely boy?
My daughter shall tend you with care and with joy;
Shall bear you so lightly through wet and through wild,
And press you, and kiss you, and sing to my child.”
“Oh Father, my Father, and saw you not plain
The Erl-King’s pale daughter glide past thro’ the rain?”
“Oh yes, my loved treasure, I knew it full soon;
It as the gray willow that danced to the moon.”
“Oh come and go with me, no longer delay,
Or else, silly child, I will drag you away.”
“Oh Father, Oh Father! Now, now, keep your hold,
The Erl-King has seized me — his grasp is so cold.”
Sore trembled the father; he spurred thro’ the wild,
Clasping to his bosom his shuddering child;
He reached his dwelling in doubt and in dread,
But, clasped to his bosom, the infant was dead!