Schwarzwaldlyrik: ODE TO THE BLACK FOREST (Satis Shroff)
ALPINE GRATITUDE (Satis Shroff)
The hamlets are scattered,
Tucked away in the side valleys and spurs
Of the Black Forest,
Which was once dark and foreboding.
A forest that once conjoured myths, legends
And fairy tales.
Under the hay and homesteads,
You find men and mice,
Good natured maids and children,
Healthy and happy cows, goats,
Sheep and swines.
The Schwarzwald farmers paid low taxes,
For Nature punished them enough.
They couldn’t get rich on the craggy soil,
The high elevation and the long, raw winter.
Yet the Black Forest forced the soil,
To yield millet in Summer,
Wheat and barley,
Buried beneath a thick mantle of snow.
Ah, it’s already past the month of October,
The young calves are in the stalls,
After a colourful, traditional walk
From the higher alpine meadows.
There’s corn in the chamber,
Feed for the animals in the barns.
Around Freiburg the apple trees,
Are laden heavily with apples.
Your nostrils smell apple mixed with cinnamon and sugar:
Applekompott, apple moos, apple pancakes and pies.
* * *
THE HARVEST FESTIVAL (Satis Shroff)
Erntedank is the harvest festival,
The German Thanksgiving,
Celebrated on the first Sunday of October.
The richness of Nature is depicted
By bread, fruits and flowers.
(A card from the Schwarzwald with damsels in their traditional attire )
The ladies wear lovely silk costumes,
Displaying their exquisite stiching and sewing creations:
Jewellery, pompom hats and headgear with pearls,
Expressing their gratitude
To the church, God and Mother Nature.
The Alemannic bread of Kaiserstuhl is legendary,
A procession of bakers and vereine
Ends the Alemannic Bread Market in Endingen.
Neighbouring France is known for cheese,
Germany excels with 300 sorts of bread.
It’s such a delight to watch the calves and cows,
Mooing with their big collar bells,
Moving languidly down to the Erlenbacher meadows,
Over the golden, russet, brown fallen and withered leaves,
Lain by the wind like a rich carpet.
Around the Goldberg Hall and the cloister,
The alpine air is filled with cow bells,
The clash of beer glass and oompa music
Of the red-cheeked village musicians.
A homeland that has grown
Withe the centuries,
Thanks to the word of farmers,
Beautiful undulating landscapes,
Shaped by dextrous human hands,
From Erlenbach upto Feldberg.
Hues of yellow, pale and dark green and russet leaves on the boughs (c)satisshroff
Fresh air and lush green grass in the summer months,
Followed by stacks of hay and tangled hedges in autumn and winter.
In the vale below,
The local Ganter brewery opens
A keg of beer in the Goldenberg Hall,
The Old Timer Bulldog parade begins,
Followed by music of the brass band from Oberried.
The visitors relish the Badische cuisine:
Schweinebrated, würst, schnitzel, spätzle and salad,
And round it up with self-baked Schwarzwäldertorte,
Cheese cakes and wash it down with warm coffee.
The country women and farmers
Show and sell their creative wares,
Mr. Müller gathers alms for the church and cloister.
In the priest’s hall there’s a Kasperle theatre,
A puppet show staged by the Kindergarden of Oberried.
Frau Julia Lauby delivers a speech
On the assets and different races of the Black Forest cattle.
The birch trees have golden leaves on their boughs.
In the evening you sit,
Swinging with your neighbours
In an Alemannic Schoof.
The Goldberg Hall moves to and fro,
To the sound of ‘Schwarzwald Sound.’
I take a swig of the brew,
And head for Kappel in the Dreisam Valley below,
Before the mirth and fun grow fast and furious,
As Robert Burns adminished
In Tam o’ Shanter.
* * *
The Alemannic cows grazing in Kirchzarten, below Gierberg, a wonderful place to have coffe & cakes and enjoy the Schwarzwald scenery (c)satisshroff.
ODE TO THE SCHWARZWALD (Satis Shroff)
Ach, February you’ve left us
As you came,
With your cold breeze,
Frosty and rich in snow.
Many a morning we had to shovel,
The tons of white mass,
Which you left behind
As your wintry legacy.
The wild boars and deer
Were circled by the Black Forest,
A sanctuary from the encroachment
But now the circle is disappearing,
Leaving Nature’s children unprotected.
The foresters drive the forest’s denizens together,
And I warn the deer,
With blasts from my vuvuzela.
An unequal hunt,
In which the unprotected animal
Is shot by the armed forester.
When they built the Schwarzwald Highway,
Workers from here and elsewhere,
Cut down proud trees,
Used dynamite to create
Tunnels and roads,
Into the fabled Black Forest.
People came and became farmers
In the valleys and spurs of the Schwarzwald.
Now the young have education,
And seek new jobs elsewhere in the towns,
And have left the Schwarzwald homesteads
Of their ancestors.
As the World War II generation
Breathe their last,
Can we blame the sons and daughters,
Who seek work to suit their brains?
Brain is victorious against brawn,
As people acquire more knowledge,
And degrees from universities.
The globe has become a village,
And the whisper of fields unsown,
Is drowned by the din and lure of modernity.
Yet there is hope,
For with a degree,
You can work
In the tourism industry,
When craggy mountains become assets.
People pay to climb peaks,
Or ski down the slopes,
Of the Schwarzwald, the Alps and Dolomites.
The wild mountains have been tamed,
Ravished by Man,
To serve his purpose.
If it doesn’t snow,
Why, just turn on the snow-machine.
Wellness or adventure,
When you’re prepared
To pay with plastic cards.
The Black Forest farms, forests and fields,
Are still covered
With a white mantle of snow,.
The tree silhouettes throw long shadows
On the slopes,
The misty shrouds rise above to the sky,
Creating the impression of pines trees,
Reigning over the clouds.
The snow and ice gathered on the rooftops
Come down with a thunderous roar,
In the middle of the night.
We call it Dachlawine:
A roof avalanche.
It’s the month of March,
The ice tries to defend itself
Against the smiling sun,
That breaks through the clouds.
The ponds and lakes show defiance,
Only to give in after some time,
For Surya’s rays are strong.
The icy sentinels collapse in defeat.
The frost on the twigs, branches and trees
Dwindle faster than they appeared.
The pearly dew disappears.
A light blue has descended
In a hurry.
The shepard from Kappel lights his pipe,
To enjoy the sunshine amid bleats.
He likes the harbinger of Spring,
For Spring means hope,
For the thrush, blackbird and his sheep.
Eichelheer, blackbirds and crows,
Hares and foxes appear in the meadows,
To bask in the soothing warmth of the sun.
This is the season of Brautschau,
When pairing begins.
Even the deer have come down
From the otherwise dark pine forest,
Now still laden with snow.
In the forest and meadows.
It’s slushy, slippery to trudge.
When the sun laughs,
Snow and ice melt away.
The earth is not naked,
Stubbles of green grass
Are to be seen.
Life is appearing,
After the long, cold hibernation.
Majestic and serene,
The languidly moving clouds
Change their hues,
As the peaks and the sky in the distance
Appear yellow, orange and crimson.
The people walking along the high road
Become silhouettes of caricatures,
Held far away.
Long shadows appear
As the sun goes down.
The birds are settling for the night,
The mice in the meadows are bolting gleefully
Through the stubbly grass,
In and around the forests of Lindenberg.
* * *
Dreisam Valley’s lovely Kappel on a sunny day (c)satisshroff
SILENCE IN THE MORNING (Satis Shroff)
The silence of the morning
Is broken gently by the friendly
Tweets and chirps of birds
Hidden among the Schwarzwald foliage.
An amsel lands on a branch
A bumble bee dances by.
And out in the distance,
The blue Black Forest hills,
Studded with myriads
Of pine trees.
Lush green meadows,
Where the snows lay
Only a week ago.
I sit here on a ridge,
Overlooking my house,
The red baked rooftops
Of my German neighbours,
And watch a Mäusebussard
Flying languidly with keen eyes,
Swoop down to grab a mouse
In Meier’s meadow.
The three rotors of the windmills
Are moving in the distant hills.
And below the bustle of Ebnet,
A picturesque town
Across the river Dreisam.
Glossary: Amsel: blackbird
Mäusebussard: buzzard that eats field mice.
* * * *
TOAD CROSSING (Satis Shroff)
On my way to the men’s choir meeting,
Along the airy hill of Grosstal,
Past warbling brooks,
Past the wooden Black Forest houses,
I came across a toad crossing.
Even children were there,
Giving a helping hand,
As they gathered the toads,
In their plastic buckets,
To help them to the other side
Of the Schwarzwald path.
The toads creaked uneasily,
The crickets made their presence felt,
Night was falling.
Schattered in the inverted bowl,
We call the sky,
There were glittering stars,
Of an everlasting universe.
* * * *
TICKLING TONGUES (Satis Shroff)
Singers have to be friends,
Are the lyrics of an olde song.
Raise your glasses,
Be merry and rejoice.
Tickle your tongues
Beer and badische wine,
And your larynx:
Erhebet das Glas,
Sänger müssen Freunde sein!
* * * *
GAIETY AND INNOCENCE (Satis Shroff)
The moment he entered the bedroom
And saw them entangled in embrace,
The gaiety and innocence
Of a relationship,
That had undergone hardships,
The kisses had become cold,
And died out.
Never to meet again,
As a pair.
What followed was a krieg
Of the roses.
That couldn’t be restored.
Instead of smiles and kisses.
* * *
A chapel in Oberried (c)satisshroff
Out of court,
On the phone, smy, what’s app,
You ask: ‘What’s up?
How did the kids take it?’
They took sides.
Never wanting to see her,
The Mom in who’s womb
In her amniotic ocean,
Till they could breathe air.
And now they despise
Her very breath,
Behind their necks.
Gone are the fond kisses and hugs.
Wounds that run deep with disdain.
Forgive and forget,
Nein, never, nie!
And so goes the conflict,
Till a silly court decision is made,
By a judge,
Who cares a damn
About yin and yang.
Gone is the gaiety and innocence,
Loss and pain,
Is what remains.
* * * *
HERMANN HESSE: The Swiss Buddha (Satis Shroff)
In Summer he walked through Tessin’s
Villages and chestnut forests.
Sat on his folding-chair,
Tried to capture
The magic around him,
In the warm nights
He tried to sing with words,
The song of the beautiful summer.
A lonely man,
Drunk in his loneliness,
Was elated by Nature
To new heights.
A year after World War I,
He journeyed to Montagnola,
A hamlet overlooking the Lugner lake,
On the southern tip of Switzerland.
Summer was for him
Triumph of the inner summer,
To burn away his inner depression,
That gnawed at him.
He began to write:
‘Klingsor’s last Summer,’
‘Siddhartha,’ ‘Narcis and Goldmund.’
His health didn’t improve in Tessin,
But it became a Heimat,
Away from home,
A much longed for refuge.
He had a personal crisis in 1919,
Like so often in his life.
He left his wife Mia and three kids,
The way Siddhartha Gautama did,
On his search for truth.
He belonged to the literati,
A suspected foreigner,
Who lived on milk,
Rice and macaroni.
He donned his old, worn-out suits,
Ate sweet chestnuts he’d gathered from the forest.
As he stood in his garden,
He saw Monte Bre,
Beyond the palms and magnolias.
By naughty Swiss farmer’s sons,
Who threw stones his way.
To the Swiss from the hamlet,
He was miserly, aloof, not given to talk.
One couldn’t get warm with him.
They did bestow upon him
A honorary citizenship,
After he received the Nobel Prize in ‘46.
The Make War, Not Peace Generation loved him,
He was discovered by beat Poets.
A rock band even called itself ‘Steppen Wolf.’
He took a rucksack and wine.
Trekked to Agra, Arasio,
Certenago and Gentilino.
Did you know they served
Cats with polenta in those days?
He was piqued when he came to know this.
Across the Rhine,
The Germans served prowling cats too,
Albeit with another name: roof-rabbits.
Hunger was widespread during and after the wars years.
He took his psychiatrist by word,
Devoted his life to colours.
3000 paintings were his passionate legacy.
The deep green Luganer lake
What Algeria was to Albert Camus,
Was Tessin to him.
Although he was one with Tessin,
He was unsentimental to his wife.
His entire sympathy was reserved
Only for his feline friend.
A stroke in his brain
Ended his solitary life
On August 11, 1062
Was buried in Tessin,
With a backdrop of San Abbondio,
Lined with Cypresses:
The Swiss Buddha.
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