That happiness would come to an end.
Yesterday on the proud steeds,
Today, shot in the breast.
Tomorrow, in the cold grave.' (Hauff)
I was walking in a fairy tale
along a street that reeked of war,
I felt like a broken finger nail
as I knocked on Wilhelm’s door.
The ghostly narrator greeted me
with a face that smelt of death
and the sun disappeared into the Swabian Sea
as he read from under his breath.
‘I stand in the darkest midnight,’ he drawled,
‘in a world with a marble heart.’
And the church bells answered as he called
for his tall story to start:
‘There are wine-ghosts in the Ratskeller,
there are demons in the forest.
Never put faith in a fortune teller,
your visions will turn to dust.’
He read from a dreamer’s almanac,
a saga of this ancient town.
It sent a shiver of words down my back
and I thought I was going to drown.
His stories were written for the children of widows
to laugh at when father died.
He hoped that they’d open library windows
to let light in as mother cried.
‘Let us rebuild the old castles,’ he said,
so that infants can sing and dance.
Let the people of Wurttemberg honour their dead
with fine wine and the breeze of romance.’
On Hauffstrasse I crawled with the seasons turning
with his wonderful yarns just like mine:
to be read out with the candles burning
and the clocks running out of all time.
* Wilhelm Hauff was a German poet, novelist and writer of fairy tales.
He was born in Stuttgart and lost his father when he was seven years old. His early education was gained in the library of his maternal grandfather at Tuebingen, where his mother had moved after the death of her husband. In 1820 he began to study at the University of Tuebingen and after four years he completed his philosophical and theological studies at the Tuebingen Stift.
I am most impressed by the Hauff poem, it is wonderful that you keep on twinning and linking by your poems the 2 towns and their history.