Johann Wolfgang Goethe was an extremely influential
German Romantic poet. His works range from poems to
plays and short tales to novels, but one of his most popular
forms of artistic expression was the ballad. Artists have
continuously revisited one of his ballads, “Der Erlkönig”.
They have reinterpreted the work in many forms including
music, paintings, and short films. After being introduced
to the poem, it is easy to see why it has remained so
I heard Franz Schubert’s musical translation of this
Goethe poem last year and have never forgotten it. The
combination of Goethe’s haunting narrative and Schubert’s
thrilling music yield a simultaneously creepy and
fascinating work of art. I am taking this opportunity in
English Romanticism to further research “Der Erlkönig”,
Goethe, Schubert, and how they fit into the Romantic idea.