Weird German Poem

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Mon Feb 28 12:48:43 EST 2000





>> Sophie, mein Henkersmaedel
>> Komm, kuesse mir den Schaedel.
>> Zwar ist mein Mund
>> ein schwarzer Schlund,
>> doch Du bist gut und edel.

> If I may--
>
> Sophie, my executioner girl,
> Come, kiss my skull.
> Though my mouth is
> A black maw,
> Yet you are good and noble.
>
> Alexandra (who thinks that little snippet superbly morbid, and dares to
> challenge the Babelfish)

Indeed you may.  I love "executioner girl" - sounds like the title of a song, or
book, or something, in its own right!

Morgenstern, in his own commentry on his poems, says that Sophie is "des Henkers
Toechterlein" - the hangman's little daughter - but your translation is really
good.  Thanks.

If I had the book with me, I'd look up and post Max Knight's translation, but I
haven't, so:

Sophie, mein Henkersmaedel
Komm, streichle mir den Schaedel.
Zwar ist mein Haupt
des Haars beraupt -
doch Du bist gut und edel.

This poem comes from a book of "Galgenlieder" (gallows songs) by Christian
Morgenstern, and they are all either morbid or ridiculous - or both - in some
ways reminiscent of the American cartoonist Charles Addams, whose work I also
like.

I am trying to set some of Morgenstern's work to music.  My title, "Wie schoen
leuchtet der Morgenstern" is the first line of a well-known German hymn - I like
to think Morgenstern would have approved...

Philip.

PS From memory:

Sophia, Hangman's mate
Oh, come and kiss my pate.
My mouth now is
A black abyss -
But you are nobly great.

I prefer Alexandra's version, I think.






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