AUF DEN TOD EINES ZECHERS ON THE DEATH OF A DRUNKARD
Johann Peter Hebel tr. Anna Cole
Alemannic dialect of Upper Rhine

Do hen si mer e Ma vergrabe,
's isch schad für sini bsundre Gabe.
Gang, wo de witt, such no so ein!
Sel isch verbei, de findsch mer kein.

Er isch e Himmelsglehrre gsi.
In alle Dörfere her und hi
se het er gluegt vo Hus zu Hus:
hangt nienen echt e Sternen us?

Er isch e freche Ritter gsi.
In alle Dörfere her und hi
se het er gfrogt enanderno:
"tsin Leuen oder Bäre do?"

E guete Christ, sel isch er gsi.
In alle Dörfere her und hi
se het er unter Tags und z'Nacht
zum Chrütz si stille Buessgang gmacht.

Si Namen isch in Stadt und Land
bi grosse Here wohl bikannt,
Si allerliebste Kumpanie
sin alliwil d'drei Künig gsi.

Jez schloft er und weiss nüt dervo,
es chunnt e Zit, gohts alle so.


They've just interred a hapless man I knew.
Alas his gifts were never given their due.
Search as you will, you'll never find his like,
His explorations were so workmanlike.

In astronomy he was well-versed,
In every village he would show his thirst,
Seeking here and there and near and far
That elusive, satisfying Star.

He showed himself to be courageous too.
He'd ask in tones that were both bold and true:
Is it possible that I'll find here
A Lion, or a Bull or even a Bear?

He was a Christian, that much one could see.
Along the street he'd walk, a refugee
seeking to make a pilgrimage to where
the Cross stood, welcoming him with all good cheer.

His name is known to all the upper classes.
At the Duke of Wellington they raise their glasses
To this man who knows the Prince of Wales.
His capacity for quaffing never fails.

Now he rests in peace, all wisdom gone,
As we must in the same way pass anon.

Trans. Copyright © Anna Cole 2004


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