When I was in college I had a recording of The ThreePenny Opera, the well known Broadway/English translation by Marc Blitzstein, and some kids from Germany who'd heard it complained that it was a poor translation: the original was much down and dirtier, more crude and gritty. Every once in a while since then I toy with trying to make a "faithful" translation of it. I've never gotten farther than working on the famous "Mack The Knife", though, because that song alone presents so many problems that it is easy to see why Blitzstein didn't so much translate it as "adapt" it into English. Here's the first stanza in German: Und der Haifisch der hat Zahne und die tragt er im Gesicht und MacHeath der hat ein Messer doch das Messer sieht man nicht Literally, without trying to rhyme, that translates: And the shark it has teeth and it wears them in it's face and MacHeath, he has a knife but the knife no one sees. So, Blitzstein pulls out the stops and we get: "Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear and he shows them pearly white. Just a jacknife Has Macheath, dear, and he keeps it out of sight." That's a good lyric, for sure, but it's quite embellished from the original. He's pretty much rewritten the poem as far as its poetry goes. Trying to stick only to the information in the original the very best I've been able to come up with still requires inserting adjectives that aren't in the original just to make it scan right for the music: And a shark has lots of sharp teeth wears them up front in his face, but though MacHeath has a sharp knife you won't see it anyplace. I'm wondering if anyone else can see to a simple translation that doesn't require modifying the teeth and knife with adjectives, or adding much of anything for that matter.