Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem, Der Erlkönig (as translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring) depicts an elven king that would leave most little kids sleeping with the lights on for weeks, and their parents checking on them every hour. But Goethe’s vision of an Erlking,or Alder King, who entices little children away from their disbelieving parents in order to murder them, isn’t really in keeping with the original Scandinavian mythology. (more…)