Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hello world

I created this blog as a spin-off to a very popular crossword puzzle blog to which I contribute on a regular basis. In particular, I make comments triggered by German references in the daily puzzle, which are of interest to some other readers and sometimes trigger short back-and-forth exchanges that seemingly turn the blog into a personal affair. I have been reprimanded (and rightfully so, I may add) by the owner of the blog repeatedly for doing this. In response, I created this blog to invite anybody who wants to engage in this sort of exchange without guilt or fear of reprimands.

To start things off: In response to my posting the first few lines of Goethe's Faust yesterday on said blog, one reader sent me a quote by Schiller and asked if her quote was correct--it almost was. Here's the correct version:

"Ehret die Frauen! Sie flechten und weben
Himmlische Rosen ins irdische Leben."

Translation: Honor women! They wreathe and weave
heavenly roses into life on earth.

Schiller was Goethe's friend and rival. Here are the lines from Faust I posted (in a quickly made translation)

I’ve studied, ach! philosophy
medicine and jurisprudence,
and, sad to say, theology,
with single-minded diligence,
and here I stand, a fool and poor,
no wiser than I was before.

Note that Schiller's line is lofty and not meant to be funny, whereas Goethe's lines display already the generally ironic or teasing tone that he maintains throughout the play, especially in the parts he gives to the devil, Mephistopheles. In a nutshell, we get a sense of the way in which these two giants of German literature differ--I think this is a good start of the blog (I've no idea if I can maintain it)

Please read the rules of engagement on the left before posting.



ArtLvr said...

Hi Ulrich! I'm delighted to help inaugurate your KrautBlog -- though I hope you'll continue to comment on the Other blog as well... All your contributions have been greatly appreciated.

Best wishes, Cornelia

Ulrich said...

Oh yes, this is not a competition for Rex. Thanks for the response--you're the first!

Ulrich said...

Following up on the lack of humor in Schiller, the flipside is that he's often involuntarily funny, while his grandiose tone has made him the most parodied poet in German, as far as I know. Here's the popular take on his Ode to Joy, made immortal in Beethoven's ninth: It starts like this:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium!
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, Dein Heiligtum.

(Joy, beautiful spark from the Gods,
daugher from Elysium.
We enter, drunk with fire (no idea what this means)
Heavenly one, your sanctuary).

In the parody, line 3 reads
"Wir betreten vollbetrunken..."
(we enter, completely plastered, your sanctuary), which makes a lot more sense than the original.

PhillySolver said...

Glad to have this branch available...I started a few of these side conversations by linking some things to their source...like Dorothy Parker and I loved the sports quotations and the bumper stickers and the malapropisms and the well-wishing to the person entering fertility treatment and so many others. I always feel guilty about those things maybe jumping off, but I think the vast experience of the participants there and the common love for communications probably means an alternative is needed. I will see you guys here whenever we should unclog Rex's blog. I hope it works out and I thank you Ullrich for making the effort. Now, aren't you going away almost immediately?


Ulrich said...

@phillysolver: That's the spirit, exactly. Again, this is absolutely not meant to compete with Rex.

As to my going away, I think I can handle this from afar--let's see how this will work out

Myles said...

Hi Ulrich! My curiosity is piqued by your comment that you never studied German formally. But don't you say somewhere that you were born in Cologne and went to grammar school there? Or did you leave Germany at a very early age? How did you come by all your knowledge of idiomatic German usage? I don't mean to pry, but would love to hear a little more about this, if you don't mind expanding on it.

Ulrich said...

By "formally" I meant that I didn't study German or German literature at a university. At the grammar school, we did not only have extensive instruction in the finer points of German grammar, but also 9(!) years of Latin, 7 years of English, and, in my case, 6 years of ancient Greek (I could have elected French instead--a missed opportunity I regret to the present day). The upshot is that I believe I have retained a very good sense of grammar without necessarily knowing a precise rule in every case (did I mention 3 years of old Hebrew in my last 3 years? Well, I've forgotten everything except for the first three sentences of Genesis).

I emigrated at the age of 35, which means I've spoken German for that many years. However, since I've been living in the US for almost the same no. of years (yes, I'm that old:-), not everything I learned comes back easily (and in the case of the classical languages, almost nothing comes back)--what I really wanted to say is that no one should expect me to have an answer to every question people may have.

miriam b said...

O Freunde! How great to see all your familiar pixels! I couldn't go back and edit until well after I'd realized it shnoulda been "weben" and "ins" irdische Leben. Thanks for being nice about it, Ulrich.

Besides German gramar, I studied Lessing, Goethe and Schiller in college. I'll never forget my first day in that course. The professor, an elderly American, was a mumbler, and for several tense minutes none of us could be sure which language he was speaking.

I laughed uncontrollably at "vollbetrunken". I'd love to see the whole parody. As for the original, maybe the spark from the gods set fire to those entering the Heiligtum. A weird image.

I do like "Ehret die Frauen" even though I'm a feminist and the poem seems just a tad patronizing. Well, 18th century.

Off topic: Even as we "speak", several of my eldest daughter's paintings are being exhibited at the first European Outsider Art Fair at the Austrian National Library in Vienna. We're so happy for her. Too bad we're too broke to go.

Ulrich said...

Oh Freunde, greetings!
Even Goethe is not immune to being parodied. Here's the poem phillysolver referred to a while ago:
Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß,
Wer nie die kummervollen Nächte
Auf seinem Bette weinend saß,
Der kennt euch nicht, ihr himmlischen Mächte!

(He who never ate his bread in tears,
never in these sorrowful nights
sat up in bed crying
does not you, heavenly powers)

Here's the popular take:

Wer nie sein Brot im Bette aß,
weiß nicht wie Krümel pieken.

(he who never ate his bread in bed,
doesn't know how crumbs prick)

So much for the humorless Germans!

Anonymous said...

Re early topic: As an ungrad 40 years ago, I was told by a BU prof that Coleridge "borrowed" lit crit from Schlegel, especially on Shakespeare as I remember.