Nach langem Frost, wie weht die Luft so lind!
Da bringt Frühlveilchen mir ein bettelnd Kind.
Es ist betrübt, daß so den ersten Gruß
Des Frühlings mir das Elend bringen muß.
Und doch der schönen Tage liebes Pfand
Ist mir noch werter aus des Unglücks Hand.
So bringt dem Nachgeschlechte unser Leid
Die Frühlingsgrüße einer bessern Zeit.
—By Nikolaus Leanu
For some reason I just want to end the first stanza with “Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind ...”—I guess that's a sort of obscure in-joke. Or just bo-joke.
If there is anything noteworthy about this poem, or rather, about how this poem is indicative of poetic language in general, it's the syntactic inversions. It's all grammatical, mind you, but subject-last is not a standard word order for German sentences. In the first stanza, second verse, we have the verb second (standard, indicative form), followed by the direct object and then the subject.
Day in Review:
- Grocery shopping: a.k.a. shopping for boceries. And wine. Can't forget the cheap, cheap wine. They restocked the organic section such that the items and their labeled positions on the shelves do not match. It was similar in the tea and coffee aisle.
- Laundry: $2.00, yo. The place was also occupied by the wavy-haired blond with shoulders way wider than hips; the sumo wrestlers with female mullets and abstract tattoos; the women in late middle age with gray hair; and the thin old guy with poor posture, short hair, wrinkles, facial hair sprouting from weird places, and a baseball cap. Curiously missing were the mothers with toddlers in tow.
- Afternoon snack: sweetened dried cranberries, pepper jack cheese. Too yummy not to munch. I really had too much chocolate milk last night—hard to imagine, I know, for it's nearly axiomatic that there's no such thing as too much chocolate.
- Heroes: Back to the Future they go. Unlike theantix I needed neither Depends nor Pampers to make it through the episode. It was an emotionally charged episode, and Claire really lost her head. I think Peter was ready to explode, and when he got involved with Hiro, I really expected Niki to be of two minds on the issue. Matt makes an annoying jack-booted-thug (for a guy who can read minds, he's rather clueless).
- Prague: So far, so good. Lots of POV switching. The characters walk a fine line (the metaphor doesn't work if it's big, fat red line that you can stumble down) between realism and caricature that, so far, works for me because I know far too many people like just about all of the mains. I recognize far too many locations, manners of dress and speech, etc.
- The Birth of Flux & Anchor: I may have mentioned before that I've always been fond of the Soul Rider series by the late Jack L. Chalker. I never read his Well World novels, which also seem to deal with metamorphosis, as do many of his other works. Birth ... is book four in the five-novel series (though first three were envisioned as one work, and the fifth is the proper ending to that story, not really a sequel) and is really a prelude. It's still a quick and enjoyable read, a wish-fulfillment world loosely tied to consequences we care about. Chalker's own description of his 1995 novel The Cybernetic Walrus seems to sum up a great deal of his project: “actually a saga of virtual realities so realistic that you aren't sure what's real and what's not and in which virtually anything is possible. Not cyberpunk; this is more my homage to Phil Dick, only you'll understand the ending.”
I like to think of Winthrop H. Root as Enoch Root's long lost, more boring relative.
Root translates the dative “mir” with “to me,” a wholly correct adaptation, though the use of the prepositional phrase and its repetition throughout the stanzas stands out, I find, and not in a good way. Not that it's an endearing or enduring poem in the first place.
Regarding the “me” versus “to me” construction, in English they're tied to rules about indirect objects versus prepositional phrases and they can't just substitute for one another. You can say “Give me the ball” and “Give the ball to me” but you'll note that we want that indirect object near the verb. “Give the ball me” just doesn't work. As it is, I find Root's syntax much more awkward in English than I find Lenau's in German, especially if we consider the first stanza.
After long cold, the air blows warm and mild;
First violets brings to me a beggar child.
I find it sad that spring's first greeting be
Brought to me in that hand of misery.
And yet this pledge of fairer days to be
From sadness' hand is dearer still to me.
So to posterity our present sorrow
Brings the spring greeting of a better morrow.
—Translated by Winthrop H. Root
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