Die Erlkönigin | Voiced by Harriet Whitbread

An actress’s reading of Die Erlkönigin is always something I’ve wished for. Then, just over a month ago Harriet Whitbread, the head of Voice & Learning Support at the Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company, emailed to ask if I’d enjoy her own reading of the poem.

I confess that when I read this poem publicly, I sometimes can’t make it to the end. Goethe’s original poem, Erlkönig, was and is profoundly meaningful to me in a way that I could only translate by writing Die Erlkönigin. Ms. Whitbread shared that she also had trouble reading to the end and that is, in a sense, as much as I ask from the poem.

Please enjoy Whitbread’s beautiful performance.

Harriet Whitbread is Head of Voice & Learning Support at the Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company located at the The Monkey House, 97-101 Seven Sisters Road, London, N7 7QP. You can visit the Fourth Monkey website here.

2 responses

  1. I have a vigilant sense of hazard when taking care of children—so many accidents that can happen—and I think this poem expresses (via Goethe) that feeling beautifully and archetypally. A word or phrase could probably be more lushly adjusted here and there. For example, “widow’s peak” has a masculine middle-aged connotation to me, and thus I probably would have opted for something like “forehead’s crest”:

    She had
    A goddess’s hair and should she deign I comb it
    I started at her forehead’s crest and flowed
    Behind her ears until the tresses swept to curl
    The corners of her lips, her face
    With heart-framed gold.

    Or maybe that’s too lush. In any case, a great poem and overall I think your version is an improvement on Goethe’s original.


  2. Pingback: My Last Husband « PoemShape

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