“Zu Abend mein Herz”
Am Abend hört man den Schrei der Fledermäuse,
Zwei Rappen springen auf der Wiese,
Der rote Ahorn rauscht.
Dem Wanderer erscheint die kleine Schenke am Weg.
Herrlich schmecken junger Wein und Nüsse,
Herrlich: betrunken zu taumeln in dämmernden Wald.
Durch schwarzes Geäst tönen schmerzliche Glocken,
Auf das Gesicht tropft Tau.
—By Georg Trakl
It's a simple poem, a pretty and direct poem, and a poem full of cognates and false friends alike. And so I like it.
When I hear or read “Fledermaus” I think not only of the Strauss operetta but of the Batman parody in The Tick. Bat Manuel. The word “ahorn” may have the same origin as “acorn,” but the former refers in modern German to the maple tree, whereas the latter is tied to the oak. An acorn is an “Eichel” in German, from the word for oak, “Eiche.” “Eichel” can also mean, anatomically, “glans.” “Tropfen” is just a sound shift or two away from “drop,” but my students—often as the result of sloppy dictionary work—generalize all uses of the English “drop” to “tropfen” ... tsk tsk tsk. No.
The word “Rappe” as it refers to a black horse comes not from a word for black but from a southern German word for a raven, “Rappe,” instead of the (now) more standard “Rabe,” and the term spread from Bavaria to other parts of the country.
The same philosophy T.A. who sat behind me yesterday at Fair Trade was there again, and this time also behind me as I sat against the wall and waited for students to show up to collect papers and exams. Today only Z showed up and I went through his exam and fifth essay with him; he plans on taking more German courses and might major in German (now that his business school plans have taken a turn for the worse—it's always nice to be the fallback option).
It was more interesting to listen to the conversations behind me on Kant (Categorical Imperative), Hegel (Philosophy of Right), and Nietzsche (from the Genealogy of Morals)—I had hoped that one of the undergrads who showed up for consultation had written on Leibniz.
Scroll down enough and you get a side-by-side English-Russian presentation of Boney M's “Rasputin.”
Berlin the end of August, 1961: The student Rita Seidel finds herself in a deep crisis. Her friend Manfred hasn't returned from a congress of chemists in West Berlin. She must decide ... Christa Wolf's story is the only valid examination of the years of German division.
SI On Campus tells us of the “Twin Towers”—twin sisters currently in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest (female) twins in the world. When sports stories detail male athletes they deal with interests and hobbies, goals, and the like. Female athletes? Their dating lives: “For most college girls, getting a date is all about finding someone that catches your eye. Claire and Ann Recht are more concerned with finding someone at eye level.”
I'm used to being rejected or undesirable, but not usually because I'm too short.
For all the Mass. folks here I recommend today's Questionable Content.
And to conclude with stupidity, there is always the story of Kenneth Richardson, who is suing the Chicago Board of Education because a teacher showed Brokeback Mountain in class. The telling part comes toward the end: “In 2005, Richardson complained to school administrators about reading material that he said included curse words.” It gets better: “Richardson said his granddaughter was traumatized by the movie and had to undergo psychological treatment and counseling.” Euthanize grandfather and granddaughter now, please—if she was traumatized by a mere movie, she'll never be able to handle the world. Do her the favor.
“This was the last straw,” he said. “I feel the lawsuit was necessary because of the warning I had already given them on the literature they were giving out to children to read. I told them it was against our faith.”
Against his faith! Stop the world, burn the printing presses, dig holes in the ground for our heads!
“My Heart at Evening”
Toward evening you hear the cry of the bats.
Two black horses bound in the pasture,
The red maple rustles,
The walker along the road sees ahead the small tavern.
Nuts and young wine taste delicious,
Delicious: to stagger drunk into the darkening woods.
Village bells, painful to hear, echo through the black fir branches,
Dew forms on the face.
—Translated by James Wright and Robert Bly
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