Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Sympathy for the Devil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sympathy for the Devil. Show all posts

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Get the Creeps! (And May I help You...?)


Britta Huegel


The last day of October - might I send you a postcard to Halloween?
"Isn't it weird?", asked husband - who is a connoisseur of many things, but not of nature's wild life, "that today I still saw a swallow in the backyard?"
Weird indeed - because it was a sweet little bat - fluttering in her inimitable soft-hectic loudless way through the twilight.
Are you in the mood already? Or are you like the youngest son in Grimm's fairy tale: "Von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen", "The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear"?

A father had two sons. The oldest one was clever and intelligent, and knew how to manage everything, but the youngest one was stupid and could neither understand nor learn anything. When people saw him, they said, "He will be a burden on his father!"
Now when something had to be done, it was always the oldest son who had to do it. However, if the father asked him fetch anything when it was late, or even worse, at night, and if the way led through the churchyard or some other spooky place, he would always answer, "Oh, no, father, I won't go there. It makes me shudder!" For he was afraid.
In the evening by the fire when stories were told that made one's flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said, "Oh, that makes me shudder!" The youngest son would sit in a corner and listen with the others, but he could not imagine what they meant.
"They are always saying, 'It makes me shudder! It makes me shudder!' It does not make me shudder. That too must be a skill that I do not understand."

May I help you? Learning that skill?
As I love the poems of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797 - 1848), and couldn't find a translation, I did (roughly - come on, we have Halloween - and I have to get that damned bat out of my hair!) one for you:

Der Knabe im Moor                                           The Lad in the Moor

O schaurig ist's übers Moor zu gehn,                                      Oh it is scary to walk through the moor, 
Wenn es wimmelt vom Heiderauche,                                       When it seethes with heather smoke, 
Sich wie Phantome die Dünste drehn                                       When phantom-like the vapours twirl 
Und die Ranke häkelt am Strauche,                                          And the bine crochets at the shrub, 
Unter jedem Tritt ein Quellchen springt,                                   Under each step a tiny fountain wells up, 
Wenn aus der Spalte es zischt und singt,                                  When from the crack it hisses and sings, 
O schaurig ist's übers Moor zu gehn,                                       Oh scary it is to walk through the moor, 
Wenn das Röhricht knistert im Hauche!                                    When the reeds rustle in the breeze! 

Fest hält die Fibel das zitternde Kind                                        Firmly the shuddering child clutches his primer, 
Und rennt, als ob man es jage;                                                And runs as if it he is hunted; 
Hohl über die Fläche sauset der Wind -                                    Hollowly the wind swishes over the land - 
Was raschelt da drüben am Hage?                                           What fissles over there at the grove? 
Das ist der gespenstische Gräberknecht,                                  That is the spooky grave-servant, 
Der dem Meister die besten Torfe verzecht;                              Who boozes away the Master's best peat; 
Hu, hu, es bricht wie ein irres Rind!                                         Whew, whew, something breaks forth like a freakish ox! 
Hinducket das Knäblein zage.                                                   Despairingly the little lad ducks down. 
(...)                                                                                      (...) 

Well? Well????