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Song Lyrics in German and English

Hildegard Knef: “Seeräuber-Jenny” - English

Songs by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill

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Hildegard Knef Songs > “Seeräuber-Jenny” > English Versions

NOTE: The original German song lyrics are provided for educational use only. No infringement of copyright is implied or intended. - This English translation by Hyde Flippo is more literal than poetic, and is intended as an educational aid. For an "official" English version see the "Pirate Jenny" lyrics by Marc Blitzstein.

Song Background
This classic Bertolt Brecht song (with music by Kurt Weill) is from Die Dreigroschenoper, which was first performed in Berlin in 1928. The song "Pirate Jenny" is just one of several popular tunes from The Threepenny Opera. Marc Blitzstein wrote an English adaptation of The Threepenny Opera in 1954. The Austrian-born Lotte Lenya (Weill's wife) appeared in that off-Broadway production (and in the original Berlin production). [Note: Bertolt Brecht's (1898-1956) lyrics are an adaptation of Elisabeth Hauptmann's German translation of John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera."]

See our CD page for links to Knef's music on CD and as streaming RealAudio.


NOTE: This translation is NOT the Marc Blitzstein English version of 1954, which is usually the version sung in English. It is a literal translation of the original German. If you compare the Blitzstein translation with the German (or the literal English translation below), you'll see that he changed glasses to floors (being washed) and made other changes, but I particularly like the way he translated the last line.

Text: Bertolt Brecht
Musik: Kurt Weill

Gentleman, today you see me washing glasses
And I make the beds for everyone.
And you give me a penny and I quickly thank you
And you see my rags and this shabby ["ragged"] hotel
And you don't know who you're talkin' to.
But one evening there'll be shouting at the harbor
And people will ask: What's all the shouting about?
And people will see me smiling while I do the glasses
And people will say: What's she got to smile about?

And a ship with eight sails
And with fifty cannons
Will lie at the waterfront.

They say: Go clean your glasses, my child
And hand me the penny.
And the penny is accepted, and the bed is made!
(Nobody will sleep in it tonight.)
And they still don't know who I am.
But one evening there'll be a fuss at the harbor
And they'll ask: What's all the fuss?
And they'll see me standing behind the window
And they'll say: Why the evil smile?

And the ship with eight sails
And with fifty cannons
Will fire on the town.

Gentlemen, then your smile will disappear
'Cause the walls will come tumbling down
And the town will be flattened to the ground.
Only a shabby hotel will be spared from the attack
And they'll ask: Who's the special one living there?
And tonight there'll be shouting around the hotel
And they'll ask: Why was the hotel spared?
And they'll see me step out the door in the morning
And they'll say: She was living there?

And the ship with eight sails
And with fifty cannons
Will fly flags from its mast.

And hundreds will come ashore around noon
And will step into the shadows
And will catch anyone in any door
And lay him in chains and bring him before me
And ask: Which one should we kill?
And at that midday it will be quiet at the harbor
When they ask, who has to die.
And then they'll hear me say: All of them!
And when the heads roll, I'll say: Hurray!

And the ship with eight sails
And with fifty cannons
Will disappear with me.

> Blitzstein English Translation
> Original German Version

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