Weird German Poem

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Mon Feb 28 12:48:43 EST 2000

>> Sophie, mein Henkersmaedel
>> Komm, kuesse mir den Schaedel.
>> Zwar ist mein Mund
>> ein schwarzer Schlund,
>> doch Du bist gut und edel.

> If I may--
> Sophie, my executioner girl,
> Come, kiss my skull.
> Though my mouth is
> A black maw,
> Yet you are good and noble.
> Alexandra (who thinks that little snippet superbly morbid, and dares to
> challenge the Babelfish)

Indeed you may.  I love "executioner girl" - sounds like the title of a song, or
book, or something, in its own right!

Morgenstern, in his own commentry on his poems, says that Sophie is "des Henkers
Toechterlein" - the hangman's little daughter - but your translation is really
good.  Thanks.

If I had the book with me, I'd look up and post Max Knight's translation, but I
haven't, so:

Sophie, mein Henkersmaedel
Komm, streichle mir den Schaedel.
Zwar ist mein Haupt
des Haars beraupt -
doch Du bist gut und edel.

This poem comes from a book of "Galgenlieder" (gallows songs) by Christian
Morgenstern, and they are all either morbid or ridiculous - or both - in some
ways reminiscent of the American cartoonist Charles Addams, whose work I also

I am trying to set some of Morgenstern's work to music.  My title, "Wie schoen
leuchtet der Morgenstern" is the first line of a well-known German hymn - I like
to think Morgenstern would have approved...


PS From memory:

Sophia, Hangman's mate
Oh, come and kiss my pate.
My mouth now is
A black abyss -
But you are nobly great.

I prefer Alexandra's version, I think.

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they
are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify
the system manager.

This footnote also confirms that this email message has been swept 
for the presence of computer viruses.

Power Technology Centre, Ratcliffe-on-Soar,
Nottingham, NG11 0EE, UK
Tel: +44 (0)115 936 2000
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list