The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (in press published last hand, in the 1827 edition ), which is one of his most popular works. Has come about in the Weimar period of Goethe, in 1797, the so-called Year of classical ballads, received in the literary history. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is one of the most famous poems of Goethe. Even today it is more common teaching material in schools.


In this ballads 1797, Friedrich Schiller and Goethe made ​​the poetic form ballad about a conscious art will and aesthetic experiment. Both poets who cultivated a close and personal friend contact, went to the pleasure of a " poetry competition " one, the next to the " Sorcerer's Apprentice" a number of other ballads, including also " The God and the Bayadere ", " The Bride of Corinth "and" the treasure Hunter " sprung, all of which are published in edited by Friedrich Schiller Muses almanac for the year 1798.


The motif of the ballad of the sorcerer's apprentice originally appeared in the story " The Lies friend or infidels" by Lucian of Samosata on. Possible submission or suggestion also an episode is concerned, which is handed down from the Prague Golem of Rabbi Loew.

A body which Goethe used in the translation of Wieland, is:

"Finally I found but one opportunity to keep me hidden in a dark corner and the magic formula he used to, snap up by only consisted of three syllables. He went out, without being aware of me, on the market square, after he had ordered the ram, what should be done. The following day, as he had gone out transactions sake, I'll take the ram, dress like him, speaking the said three syllables and order him to fetch water. He immediately brings me a big jug full. Well, I said, I do not need more water will return to the ram! But he paid no heed to my words, but continued to carry water, and wore so long that at last the whole house was filled with it. I began to be afraid, Pancrates when he came back, 'd ' it resent - as it then happened - and because I did not know to help me differently, I took an ax and cut the ram in two. But since I had taken it amiss; because now each half grabbed her and took a jug of water, so that I now had its two for a water carrier. Inmittelst comes back my Pancrates, and how he sees what had happened, he gives them their previous form again, but he himself went secretly out of the dust, and I never saw him again. "


The Sorcerer's Apprentice is alone and tries out a spell of his master. He transforms using spell a broom into a servant who must carry water. The poem begins with the following famous lines:

Has the old Warlock, Nevertheless, once wegbegeben! And now his spirits Live according to my will. His word ' and works Remembers ' I and the custom And with strength of mind Do I ' miracle too!

Initially, he is proud of his skills, but he soon realizes he is no longer rise to the occasion, and he says the famous words: ". The I called the spirits, / Shall I now can not get rid " Here comes the last moment the master back and clean up the situation with a tight command:

"In the corner, Broom! Broom! Been Seid. Because as ghosts Gets you only to his purposes, Only out of the old masters. "

The chorus parts can be in the mind of the reader the feeling and the picture of the actual water releases, which seems to dabble in the room. ( Walle, Walle: the frequent use of the consonant L; That for the purpose of water flowed: In addition many S and Z sounds to represent the flow of water splashing and figuratively ).

Structure / shape of language / meter

The ballad consists of seven verses, which are divided by engaging in the actual verse and a kind of refrain. Each (full) stanza has 14 verses. The first part of each ( actual ) stanza consists of four verses with vierhebigen trochaics together, followed by four other verses with dreihebigen trochees. During the first four verses of verses all have a sounding cadence, each sounding and blunt cadences alternate in the last four verses of verses. The chorus part has six verses with four zweihebigen and two vierhebigen trochees, all with sounding cadence.


Artistic appropriation

  • The Ballad of the " Sorcerer's Apprentice" inspired the French composer Paul Dukas in 1897 to a musical version of the work ( see Dukas ' The Sorcerer's Apprentice ).
  • This in turn prompted Walt Disney, scenic implement the set to music presentation of the story in his 1940 published cartoon Fantasia. This Mickey Mouse plays the fighting with brooms and water Sorcerer's Apprentice.
  • One of the most successful children's books by the graphic artist and illustrator Tomi Ungerer tells the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice ( 1971).
  • The poem was set to music by Achim Reichel on his album Rain ballad. A setting specifically for children can be found on the CD Ballads for children of Lutz Gorner.
  • A setting in the hip- hop style, there are from the boys poets and thinkers ( JDD ). This version can be heard in the film Keinohrhasen.
  • 2009 was the musical The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Michael Wempner, the Goethe ballad with music by Heike Wagner in the piece integrated.
  • 2010 came the movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice with Nicolas Cage in the movie theaters. The film focuses on the motif of the sorcerer's apprentice and comes in a scene in the film very close approach to the Fantasia version. The original title of the film is The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which is also the English title of the ballad.
  • 2013, the short film " The Sorcerer's Apprentice " produced by " culture cubic " and co-produced by " Second German Television (ZDF )" was completed. This is based, in comparison to previous films, most of the ballad of 1797.
  • Published in 2013 2K Games in the story was an extension for the computer game Borderlands 2 as a template of a level section.

The topos of the people of the present as the " Sorcerer's Apprentice"

The dictum " The I called the spirits, / Shall I now do not go." Is today ( " the spirits that I called " in the form) used as a topos, if a development that someone brought with itself in motion has, out of control and can no longer be stopped.


Goethe shows in the poem The Sorcerer his skepticism about the pursuit of autonomy, the more certain his Sturm und Drang period. The attempt to rebel against the rule of the master and to act independently, leads to chaos due to massive skills shortages of the apprentice. It was the recollection of the old authority and the original order saves the day. Seen in the Sorcerer's Apprentice is the counterpart of Prometheus. The poem reflects the ideas of the Weimar Classicism. The plot of the ballad is closed in itself, but can be transferred to many areas. In particular, the transfer to the findings of science and the not always assessable consequences is obvious. The sentence " I cried, the spirits, I shall not now go," vividly describes the dilemmas of a science which is held responsible for the consequences of their research.

The Ballad of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is not only in a close temporal association with the French Revolution: With its warning of the high-handedness of people who just " apprentices " are basically, Goethe reacted to the revolution in a similar manner as his friend Friedrich Schiller, published in his 1799 song of the Bell warns: The master can break the mold / with wise hand, at the right time; / But woe if / glüh'nde The ore is freed himself ablaze streams!