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Saturday, 17 October 2020

Saturday Rave: Finch and Frog by Wilhelm Busch

 In search of something new, I put "German comic poet" into Google, and thus discovered Wilhelm Busch.

Wilhelm Busch had a rather typical poet's life - unhappy childhood - giving up respectable studies for the Arts - early writing ignored - illness - writing banned for attacking Authority - alcoholism - failed loves - failure to live independently - death.

Still, his death came at the age of seventy five, and he made some money, so he wasn't as tragic as all that.

Here's one of his comic poems. It must have been translated by an American, but I'm afraid I don't know who it was.

NB: it doesn't adhere to the English concept of pure comedy, which requires a happy ending.


The finch trills in the apple tree

His: Tirilee!

A frog climbs slowly up to him

Up to the treetop's leafy rim

And puffs right up and croaks "Hallooo,

Ol' chum: see, I can do it too!"



And as the bird his song of spring

So sweetly to the world did sing,

The frog chimes in with sassy tones

And interjects his bassy drones.


The finch exclaims "Oh Joy, hurray!

I'll fly away!"

And springs into the azure sky.


"Hah!" crows the frog, "Well so kin I!"


He makes a most ungainly bound

And splats onto the bare hard ground.

He's pancake flat, and that's no joke:

He's croaked his very final croak.


If someone climbs laboriously

Into the branches of a tree

And thinks himself a bird to be

Wrong is he.


**

The veil between comedy and tragedy is sometimes translucent. 

Upon which side of it are you, after that poem?

Word To Use Today: finch. The Old English form of the word is finc. 

The American-English word fink is basically the same as finch, and originally referred to those free spirits who don't belong to organisations such as fraternities and trades unions.

The original German text of the poem can be found HERE.


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