Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Freely Adapted into English
Owen Christianson

Great! The sorcerer—and that’s strange!
Has left me here alone today!
Now his spirits, for a change
My wants and wishes will obey!
Having memorized
Spells, steps and stages,
By my great mind fertilized,
Magically I’ll sport and play,
And with the spirits have my way.

Go, I say.
Go on your way.
Do not tarry!
Water carry!
Let it flow abundantly
Go, prepare a bath for me!

China now, old broom, go get dressed!
These old rags will do just fine.
You’re a slave, a serf—at best!’
And this day you will be mine.
Here’s two legs,
A head on top.
Take the kegs!
Go quick! Don’t stop!

Go! I say.
Go on your way!
Do not tarry!
Water carry!
Let it flow abundantly.
Go! Prepare a bath for me!

Watch him bound through the door with a dash.
And now he’s reached the bank of the river.
He’s back as quick as a lightning flash.
Ice-cold water to deliver.
Look! The tub is filled to the top.
And watch the broom pour each last splash
Into kettle and bowl and plate and cup.

But stop! Stand still!
And heed my will!
I’ve had enough
Of this sorcerer’s stuff!
I’ve forgotten—Oh, luckless me!
What the magical word might be.

Oh, the word to change him back
Into what he was before.
Look! He runs with a white hot track.
I wish you’d be a broom once more.
He keeps hauling vats of water
Just as nimbly as can be.
With a current ever broader
Pouring, pouring down on me.

No, no longer!
Can I let him?
I must catch him
With some trick.
I’m getting sick
As I behold him.
Him! A raging lunatic.

O, you miscreant from Hell!
The entire household you will drown.
Everywhere I look, I tell
You, water, water running down.
I curse you, tattered, splattered broom.
What can’t I knock you to your doom?
Be a stick once more, I beg you.
Be a stick, I tell you. Soon!

In the end
Still not in sight?
I will grab you.
Hold you tight.
With my axe I’ll split your brittle
Gnarly wood right down the middle.
Here he comes again with water.
Now, I’ll throw myself upon you.
And the sharpness of my axe
I will test, O wretch, on YOU.
Bravo! Quite a perfect hit.

Look! with just one whack
He’s split.
Now, at last, there’s hope for me.
Subsequently, I’ll breathe free.

A pox on me! For far from quitting
This blackguard comes to life anew.
But then, to satisfy my bidding
I’ll have slaves. Not one. But two.
No! Help me, O Great Powers on High!
Help me now! I beg and cry.

See them scrambling! Wet and wetter
Get the stairs, the rooms, the hall!
What a deluge! What a flow!
Lord and Master, Stop this squall!
Ah, here comes the sorcerer though.
Master, I have need of Thee.
Them! The spirits that I’ve called.
From their fury set me free!

“Back now, broom!
Into the closet!
Be just as you
Were before!

Its true master overawes it.
Draws it,
Bound behind the door.
Till that Sage whom
Glooms abhor
Calls them forth
With measured lore.