Sarah Crossan’s “Die Sprache des Wassers”

I am finding this an excellent read and an interesting and moving cultural experience. Having just seen “Ladybird” which moved me to both tears and laughter, this story is broadly a similar coming of age story. I suppose it could be termed a Bildungsroman but that is a weighty term for the evocative and indeed provocative text which is ideal for someone wanting to learn German. Essentially it is a prose poem in German about a 13 year old girl coming from Poland to Coventry.

 

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Discovering Michael Longley

Geisha
Though the partition opens at a touch
She makes a pin-hole and watches people
Watching the sky where a heavy bomber
Journeys to her mirror and jar of rouge.

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Geisha
Obwohl die Partition öffnet sich auf einen Hauch
Sie macht ein PinLoch und sehen Menschen an
Beobachten den Himmel, wo ein schwerer Bomber
Reisen zu ihrem Spiegel und einem Topf Rouge.
Another friend to whomI am indebted alternatively translates:-
Obwohl die Trennwand sich auf Berührung öffnet, macht sie ein stecknadelgroßes Loch und beobachtet den Himmel, wo sich ein schwerer Bomber auf ihren Spiegel und einen Topf Rouge zubewegt..
More information on this great poet, whom I have sadly only recently discovered, can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/michael-longley
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Note
Geisha (芸者) geiko (芸子), or geigi (芸妓) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses. Their wide skills include performing various arts such as Japanese classical music and traditional dance, witty games and conversation, traditionally to entertain male customers, but also female customers today.

Franz Lehár – Gern hab’ ich die Frau’n geküsst (Paganini)

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Gern hab’ ich die Frau’n geküsst,
hab’ nie gefragt, ob es gestattet ist;
dachte mir: nimm sie dir,
küss sie nur, dazu sind sie ja hier!
Ja, glaubt mir: Nie nahm ich Liebe schwer.
Ich liebe heiss, doch treu bin ich nicht sehr,
bin ein Mann, nicht viel dran,
Liebchen fein: ich schau’ auch andre an!

Ich kenn’ der wahrhaften Liebe Glut,
ich weiss, wie weh oft die Falschheit tut,
ich kenn’ die Wonnen,
begonnen mit Freud,
ich sah ihr wenden und enden mit Leid!
Ich kenn’ die Liebe in Dur und Moll,
ich kenn’ sie selig, verrückt und toll,
ich schau’ erwachend und lachend zurück
und such’ im Rausche, im Tausche mein
Glück!

“Refugees”by Louis MacNeice

 

With prune-dark eyes, thick lips, jostling each other
These, disinterred from Europe, throng the deck
To watch their hope heave up in steel and concrete
Powerful but delicate as a swan’s neck,

Thinking, each of them, the worst is over
And we do not want any more to be prominent or rich,
Only to be ourselves, to be unmolested
And make ends meet–an ideal surely which

Here if anywhere is feasible. Their glances
Like wavering antennae feel
Around the sliding limber towers of Wall Street
And count the numbered docks and gingerly steal

Into the hinterland of their own future
Behind this excessive annunciation of towers,
Tracking their future selves through a continent of strangeness.
The liner moves to the magnet; the quay flowers

With faces of people’s friends. But these are mostly
Friendless and all they look to meet
Is a secretary who holds his levée among ledgers,
Tells them to take a chair and wait…

And meanwhile the city will go on, regardless
Of any new arrival, trains like prayers
Radiating from stations haughty as cathedrals,
Tableaux of spring in milliners’ windows, great affairs

Being endorsed on a vulcanite table, lines of washing
Feebly garish among grimy brick and dour
Iron fire-escapes; barrows of cement are rumbling
Up airy planks; a florist adds a flower

To a bouquet that is bound for somebody’s beloved
Or for someone ill; in a sombre board-room great
Problems wait to be solved or shelved. The city
Goes on but you, you will probably find, must wait

Till something or other turns up. Something-or-Other
Becomes an unexpected angel from the sky;
But do not trust the sky, that blue that looks so candid
Is non-committal, frigid as a harlot’s eye.

Gangways – the handclasp of the land. The resurrected,
The brisk or resigned Lazaruses, who want
Another chance, go trooping ashore. But chances
Are dubious. Fate is stingy, recalcitrant.

And officialdom greets them blankly as they fumble
Their foreign-looking baggage; they still feel
The movement of the ship while through their imagination
The known and the unheard-of constellations wheel.

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This poem appeared just about a year after MacNeice visited America where he met Auden and Isherwood amongst other prominent figures during a short lecture tour. It appeared at a time of extreme danger for Britain:- Dunkirk was a recent event and The Blitz too was starting. I am of the opinion that Auden and Isherwood need little justification for having left the country. They had worked bravely on “Journey to War” in Manchuria and Isherwood’s novels gave a clear insight into the rise of the Nazis and the persecution of leftists, Jewish people and so on. That is by the way, since although this poem could be considered in some ways slight, it has interesting parallels with the comparable plight of refugees today. Given Trump, entering America has become extremely difficult in the past year. In addition, it gives an insight into the New York seascape and skyline which I seem to remember has been written about movingly by two Jewish exiles, Rose Ausländer (Januar in New York) and I think, Mischa Kalako.

The poem itself is obviously of it’s time and the first line is rather brutal on facial characteristics. There are some interesting words like ‘milliner’ and ‘vulcanite’ that have dropped out of common parlance rather. I particularly like-‘Into the hinterland of their own future’ which suggests the confusion of trying to find in a new environment some reference to the land left behind. It also contains, I think, perhaps unconsciously, reference to  MacNeice’s hinterland as an Irish born poet as well as much effective and ambivalent use of religious imagery. His father became a bishop of the Anglican Church of Ireland.

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A Trainee Nurse’s pay at the outset of World War Two

A historian friend has written me about a Jewish woman who left Berlin, and saved her life, coming to England and starting her training in 1939. She had free board and bed and earned just 36/- per month. That is £3 and 6s. By November 1943 she was fully qualified and working in a General Hospital and her new salary became £5 and 5s-nurses were considered professionals before the NHS was formed and  were paid in Guineas (I Guinea= £1 and 1s). In order to fathom what this might have bought I looked up some figures in a couple of hours in a local newspaper archive. The following is what I discovered there.

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West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser  Feb 8th 1940    Price 2d
(12d= i/- (shilling) and 20/- equals £1 (a pound) )
Cockerels £1 per 100
Rental for a 2 bedroom house, sitting room, kitchen and scullery in Richmond Terrace in Truro £20 per annum
500 stamps 2/6 i.e. 2 shillings and 6d= 1/8 of a Pound
Cure for corns on feet 9d per bottle or 10 and 1/2d by post
Newly soiled Army boots 6/6 approx 1/3 of a Pound
soled and heeled 7/-
Unbleached bed sheets -double bed sized 7/11 and 1/2d (So it doesn’t seem 8 shillings!)
Turkish towels 1/11 and 1/2d
Unused 30 horsepower Electric Motor secondhand cost 50/- (Two and a half pounds) for sale at 30/-
Graham Piano in a walnut case £14 and 14/-
Other modern pianos in part exchange £7 and 10/-
Ginger wine 3/- for a bottle
Port styled wine (i.e. not real Port) a quarter bottle 9d
Full bottle of Sherry 2/6= 30d
Large oval bottle of port styled wine 3/6
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser  Feb 12th 1940    Price 2d
 
Truro City Band – Grand Dance -admission 1/3 (obviously haf of half a crown!)
Kidney Pills on offer 1/3 and at 3/- and at 5/-
The Cornishman Dec 28th 1939 
 
Weekend Return Fare to Isles of Scilly 12/6 from Penzance!
New Agricutural Wages Act 1924 Update-comes into force on 1st Jan 1940
Minimum Wage for Male over 21 at 37/- (up from 34/-)
                                                14 year old  11/6
                           for Female over 20 6d per hour
                                                14-15 3d per hour
An advert 14 inches by 16 inches (half page) cost £18
80 word advert for 3 weeks cost 7/3
(It announces in this edition that overworked Nazis will be getting 3 weeks extra holiday next year and those cancelled in September will have their holidays restored}
(Also British Contraband seize 7000 tons of goods of contraband of which…
4000 tons are petrol
600 tons of foodstuffs and beverages
200 tons of tin
100 tons of rubber
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and in North Finland 5000 Russians captured by Finns
Berlin Wireless announces Hitler to visit Western Front)
Wife’s Maintenance set by Camborne Court after husband’s pretty clear adultery = 15/- per week
Fees for a Girl’s School relocated from Isle of Wight-Westwing- to open in Jan 24th 1940
£30 and 30/- under 8 years boarding and £35 and 35/- boarding
Kindergarten £5 5/- per term.
The other authority on prices at this moment in time was, of course, George Orwell’s account of the reasonable cost of reading compared to smoking and drink. Sadly, it appears that so-called Agency nurses may be reasonably paid but if Jeremy Hunt’s pronouncements are anything to go by, nurses are scarcely likely to have a much better time in the forthcoming period. The long shadow of Brexit has already, as is well known made for a severe shortage of staff. The Conservative Party are great believers in the so=called free market, except of course when it applies to Public Sector Pay!

Joachim Ringelnatz und Strassenbahnen

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Strassenbahn 23 und 13

 

Was nur in Frankfurt sich begibt:

Die Trambahn hielt auf offner Strecke.

Sie sah am Wege eine Schnecke

Und sagte gähnend: »Steigen Sie ein, wenn es Ihnen beliebt.«

Die Schnecke wehrte: »Danke, mir pressiert es.«

Da gab die Bahn ein Abfahrtssignal und noch eins und

ein drittes und viertes.

Und wirklich begann sie allmählich weiter zu fahren,

Um noch vor Sonntag die nächste Station zu erreichen.

Dort lagen an dreihundert Leichen,

Lauter Leute, die über dem Warten verhungert waren.

 

Joachim Ringelnatz wurde als jüngstes von drei Geschwistern in einem Wohn- und Geschäftshaus am Crostigall 14 in Wurzen bei Leipzig um „11 ¾ Uhr“ in einem Zimmer über dem Flur geboren, wie der Geburtsschein der Hebamme belegt. Seine Eltern waren beide künstlerisch tätig. Sein Vater Georg Bötticher, der einer thüringischen Gelehrtenfamilie entstammte, war ein Musterzeichner und später hauptberuflicher Verfasser von humoristischen Versen und Kinderbüchern. Er veröffentlichte vierzig Bücher, unter anderem in Reclams Universal-Bibliothek. Die Mutter Rosa Marie, Tochter eines Sägewerksbesitzers, zeichnete ebenfalls, entwarf Muster für Perlstickereien und stellte Puppenbekleidung her. Ringelnatz wuchs in bescheidenem Wohlstand auf: Die Familie beschäftigte zwei Dienstmädchen.

Quelle:-https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Ringelnatz

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camborne_and_Redruth_Tramways

Under Byronic influences-Liebesleid (1910)- once again with Max Raabe!

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Reproduction of Portrait of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips

I have been reading Frederich Raphael on Byron-which is full of witty asides and ironic comments. It is also very perceptive and entertaining. However, Youtube fails on readings of his work-perhaps unsurprisingly.
However, put into the frame of mind by Byron I found this following clipagain, which I very much like this very old lovesong which has subtitles in French-good for the brain! The melody is enticing and certainly is both seasonal and lyrically delightful. As someone has commented;”Une perfection, une merveille…

Max Raabe est un très grand Artiste! Merci!”.