after Goethe's Erlkoenig
The road is long, the night is wild,
A man is riding with his child.
He holds him close to keep him warm
Against the battering of the storm.
"My dear, why are you shivering?"
"Oh father, look, the Alder King
In his spiky crown and floating train!"
"There's nothing there but drifting rain."
"My darling come and live with me;
We''ll play such games beside the sea
In meadows full of deathless flowers -
The two of us- for hours and hours..."
"Didn't you hear that speech of his
Such pretty words, such promises?"
"All I can hear is wind and weather-
The dead, old boughs as they crash together."
"My daughters wait on the dancing floor.
They say they need one dancer more.
They'll sing for you, they'll hold you tight
And sit beside you all the night."
"Father, look, in the shadows there-
The daughters how they stand and stare,
Their white hair falling to their knees."
"There's nothing there but the willow trees."
"Love, I've been gentle for your sake
But what I cannot woo I take."
"Oh father, do not let me go.
The Alder King is hurting so."
He holds his son against his breast.
He shivers. He has done his best.
The lights of home gleam just ahead.
He reaches them. The boy is dead.