J. C. Freiherr von Zedlitz: “The Robber’s Wife”

Excerpt, “Translations from the German Poets of the 18th and 19th Centuries.” By Alice Lucas. London: 1876.

maiden tree

The Robber’s Wife


The sun is setting so luridly red,

As though my true-love were prisoned and dead;

They have come down from the rocky hill,

They watch in the vale, they wait by the hill.


They crouch in ditches and brushwood high,

Between the ruined old walls they lie;

And the road is held, and the pass is manned,

And on yonder height the sentinels stand.


Oh! Sleep, my baby; my little one, sleep,

In the shady grot, by the fountain deep,

And a dainty lullaby I will sing

Of the nightly dance in the elfin ring.


‘Ye elves, come, weave me’—What is’t I hear?

A shot! ’Twas his followers’ greeting cheer;

And he who receives it his cares are o’er;

He sleeps in peace, and awakes no more.


‘Ye elves, come, weave me your floating veil’—

Hark! Shot on shot ringing through the dale;

Up whirls the smoke, with its clouds blue-grey;

Ah! Why is the combat so fierce today?


‘Ye elves, come, weave me your floating veil,

For my darling child in your moonlit dale’—

That was his musket, its sound I hear,

None other thunders so loud and clear.


And shot upon shot—no travelers they,

The servants of justice seize their prey;

No thought of booty is in that strife;

Alas! they are venturing life for life.


Ah, woe is me! How cold is my brow!

My true-love’s shots, they are silent now;

I hear them no more—his musket is hushed;

Oh! How the blood to my heart it rushed!


My knees are trembling! Ah! Woe is me!

My child, let us hasten, hasten to flee;

The sun is setting so luridly red,

As though my true-love were lying dead.