The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17407   Message #168022
Posted By: Wolfgang
25-Jan-00 - 08:56 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Eppelein von Gailingen (Colin Wilkie)
Subject: Lyr Add: EPPELEIN VON GAILINGEN (Colin Wilkie)
The correct thread title would have been 'Lyrics add: Eppelein von Gailingen' but you might have expected a German song following a German title and not an English song with a German title. Therefore I added the songwriter's name to induce you to open the thread. Colin Wilkie is a singer of traditional and contemporary songs, a singer of shanties (with Shirley Hart), a writer of many modern songs in traditional style, but foremost, from a German point of view, he has introduced English language traditional folk songs into the German radio as a long term host for a radio folk show. Eppelein von Gailingen is the hero of a narrow escape from the gallows in an old German saga describing the seemingly impossible saving leap of his horse over the Nuremberg castle moat. Colin Wilkie thought that that was a stuff for a ballad and since he couldn't find a German ballad he wrote one himself, a modern English ballad based on a more than 700 years old German story. This is my transcription from the mulitple singers and bands CD 'I wish I'd written that song. A tribute to Colin Wilkie'.

(Colin Wilkie)

It was on the road to Nuremberg
a mighty battle I did see,
it took above 100 men
to bring a fierce knight down.
They fought throughout the afternoon
'til force of arms it did prevail:
Eppelein von Gailingen
in iron chains was bound.

will not hang in Nuremberg,
will not dance on the gallows tree
nor pay no hangman's fee.

The soldiers brought him to the town
the Nuremberg judge said: 'You must die.'
He laughed at the right scornfully
and this was his reply:
'You may build your gallows high
to the tower above the castle wall,
Eppelein von Gailingen
he will outlive you all.

The judge he said: 'Your death is near,
tomorrow morning you will hang,
a final wish we'll grant to thee,
before you face the tree.'
'Sit me once upon my horse
that faithfully has carried me,
put the reins into my hands
once more before I die.

They sat him on his faithful mare
and put the reins into his hands,
he dug the heels into her side,
she answered his command.
One leap, she's cleared the castle wall,
like the wind raced through the town,
they heard him laugh as he rode away:
'I always shall be free.'

What are the facts? In the fourteenth century in Germany there were many knights making a living out of robbing rich merchants. They had been participants or descendants from participants of the crusades and had learned nothing but warfare. They saw the merchants and trading as a reason for their growing poverty and became Raubritter (robber knights), for slaying and robbing was all they knew. The robbing of the rich has at all times and in all countries been an activity looked at with much less scorn by the poor than by the rich themselves. So some of the robber knights (as highwaymen in other times) became quite popular though the folktales used to make them much nicer fellows than they actually were. The Eppelein von Gailingen of the folk tale was popular both for his daunting robberies (even in the middle of Nuremberg town) and for his above escape from the gallows. The guides in Nuremberg even today will show you the imprints of his horse's hooves on the castle wall (keep a straight face).

Known facts: Eppelein von Gailingen has actually lived, his date of death, as usual in those times, being better certified than his date of birth. He was a robber knight, especially at the expense of Nuremberg merchants, he has escaped some way or the other from a first sentence to death. Well, and he died in 1381 when he fell into the hands of the people of Nuremberg for the second time. He was broken on the wheel and decapitated. There's a saying in German we most probably owe to the Eppelein story: 'Die Nürnberger hängen keinen, sie hätten ihn denn.' The people of Nuremberg don't hang a man, unless they have him.

This is a song that just has to be (re)translated into German. My brother and I have done this.

(Reinhard and Wolfgang Hell)

Auf dem Weg nach Nürnberg
sah ich eine große Schlacht,
da kämpfte gegen einen Mann
eine Übermacht.
Um ihn zu überwältigen,
sie kämpften einen Nachmittag,
bis Eppelein von Gailingen
zuletzt in Ketten lag.

wird noch lang nicht aufgeknüpft,
er tanzt nicht auf dem Schafott,
zahlt nicht des Henker's Lohn.

Sie schleppten ihn auf Nürnberg's Burg,
den Todesspruch fällt' das Gericht,
doch Eppelein, der lachte bloß
dem Richter in's Gesicht:
'Ihr könnt ruhig den Galgenbaum,
so hoch Ihr wollt, in Auftrag geben,
Eppelein von Gailingen
wird Euch noch überleben.'

Der Richter sagte: 'Morgen früh
wirst Du Deinen Henker seh'n,
doch einen allerletzten Wunsch
mag ich Dir zugesteh'n.'
'Setzt mich nochmal auf mein Pferd,
das mich getragen hat als Herrn,
gebt mir die Zügel noch einmal,
dann sterb' ich doppelt gern.'

Und als er auf der Stute saß,
die Zügel hielt und Sporen gab,
da macht' sie einen Riesensprung
von Nürnberg's Burg herab.
Wie der Wind ging's durch die Stadt,
an Wache und am Tor vorbei,
sein Lachen hörten sie von fern:
'Ich bleib' für immer frei.'