The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
a modern translation by Katrin Gygax (copyright 2013)

Now that the old sorcerer has left me on my own at last,
I can make his forces labor just exactly as I ask.
I’ve learned in this tower, all his words and spells,
With these mental powers, his art is mine as well.

Hurry, hurry, fetch the water, bring it quickly, come get going,
Fill the buckets and don’t dawdle, fill the bath, we need it flowing!

So come on, you dry old broomstick! Wrap yourself in these old rags;
Servant is what you are, toothpick; Obey me now and do not lag!
Stand up here on two legs, screw a head on top,
Run down to the stream’s edge, with the water pot!

Hurry, hurry, fetch the water, bring it quickly, come get going,
Fill the buckets and don’t dawdle, fill the bath, we need it flowing!

Look, it’s running to the river; see, it’s made it to the stream,
Like an arrow from a quiver, shooting its way straight to me.
There and back already, for the second time,
Filling buckets stead’ly, as the water climbs!

Cease now! Cease now! Stand and heed me! Halt! Obey! I must be heard!
Oh now, what now, can’t believe this! I don’t know the magic word!

Just one word, to end this madness! Argh, it’s going to be my doom!
Endless water! Oh, what badness! Stop, please and just be a broom!
Nonstop it keeps hauling water from the stream,
Soon I will be crawling, drowned among the bream.

No, can’t take this any longer; nasty creature! How deceitful!
Oh! This couldn’t be much wronger! Ghastly features! Oh! It’s evil!

Fie, you wicked spawn of Satan! Would you have the whole house drown?
Water’s pouring down the stairwell, water’s gushing all around!
You’re a wicked broomstick, pretending not to hear!
Turn back into wood, imp, or I’ll teach you fear!

Will you not just cease your running? I must catch you, I must snatch you,
Though you may be fast and cunning, this sharp ax it will dispatch you.

Look, it’s back and still it’s hauling! I will thrash it now but good,
Soon, you goblin, you’ll be slaughtered! Bulls-eye! Sliced into the wood.
Perfect! Right on target! Ha! It’s now in two!
And now I can hope that this whole trial is through!

Worry! Worry! Two live pieces! This increases all my problems!
Help me please, oh higher powers; save me from these two new goblins!

Still they’re running! Wet and wetter, down the steps, the water’s falling.
How appalling, all this water! Lord and Master! Hear me calling!
Oh, here comes my master! Help me Lord, I plead!
Spirits I have conjured, no longer pay me heed.

Broomstick! Broomstick! To the corner, go now, I’m the master here!
Spirits, spirits! When I need you, only then may you appear.

Katrin Gygax, Copyright 2013
May be used only with permission