Busch auf Englisch

Für ein angesehenes großes Finanzunternehmen präsentieren die Dichterpflänzchen am 21. März 2009 WILHELM BUSCH in englischer Sprache. Zum Abschluss eines Seminars stellen wir einem internationalen Teilnehmerkreis bei einem Tagesausflug in Trier Wilhelm Busch und seine Bildergeschichte Max und Moritz an mehreren Stationen vor. Um die Rezitationen auch optisch zu veranschaulichen, werden besonders typische Zeichnungen der berühmten Böse-Buben-Streiche auf einer portablen Staffelei aufgeblättert. Nach ausführlicher Prüfung der unterschiedlichsten Übertragungen ins Englische fiel die Auswahl auf die Übersetzung von Percy Reynolds. Diese gelungene Nachdichtung können wir mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Verlages Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co., Stuttgart veröffentlichen.

Wilhem Busch

Max and Moritz - A Tale of Two Scamps in Seven Pranks – translated by Percy Reynolds


Oh, how full the Sunday papers
Are of naughty children´s capers,
Like the tricks the ill-reputed
Max and Moritz executed.

These two, good advice pooh-poohing,
Would not stop their evil-doing;
No, not they, as rules they flouted,
They would even laugh about it!
Yes, on crime and misdemeanour
No-one could be any keener!
Teasing people, hurting bunnies,
Stealing plums and dinner moneys,
sure, such things are more relaxing,
And, indeed, not half as taxing
As to sit and hear the teacher
Or the sermon of the preacher.
But oh dear, oh dear, impending
Looms, I fear, a sticky ending.
God! it was a bad affair,
That befell the naughty pair.
Hence the tricks they perpetrated
Are set down and illustrated.

The First Trick

Many people´s love extends
To include our feathered friends,
First because it can be paying
By the eggs these birds are laying,
Secondly as now and then
One may eat them coq au vin.
Third, the feathers they produce
Have a long-established use
As a warming duvet filling,
For who´d want a bedtime chilling?

Well, the Widow Bolter here
Never warmed to the idea.

Of her little chicken flock,
Three were hens and one a cock.
Here, so Max and Moritz thought,
Was their chance to get some sport.

One, two, three, they press ahead
Cutting up a piece of bread
Into four which for their trick
Had to be a finger thick.
These they tie to cross-laid thread
Each end baited with some bread,
And with rekless disregard
Lay it in the widow´s yard.

Instandly the cock starts crowing
To announce that food is going.
And the hens hear him from far;
Cluck-cluck-cluck, and here they are!

Cock and hens now gaily swallow
Each a piece with string to follow.

But they soon begin to sence
That they cannot get from hence.

Pulling left and right, they tear
One another here and there,

Flutter up on wings of fear,
Goodness me! Oh dear, oh dear!

Oh, their tangled flight is ended.
From a branch they hang suspended.
And their necks grow long and longer,
Whilst their song sounds wrong and wronger.

Each still lays a final egg,
Then comes Death and out they peg.

Widow Bolter sensed on waking
Some disaster in the making.

Nervously she stepped outside;
Oh, how was she horrified!

Flood mine eyes! Let tears be streaming!
All my hopes, my fondest dreaming,
All that meant the world to me
Dangles from this apple tree!”
Grieved as never in her life,
She gets out the kitchen knife,

Cuts her dead down to the ground,
Loath to see them hang around.

Then with silent looks of pain,
She returns indoor again.

So much for the opening trick;
Worse to follow in a tick.


The Second Trick

When the widow by the morrow
Had recovered from her sorrow,
She, on mulling matters through,
Felt the proper thing to do
For the dead, who sad to say,
So untimely passed away,
Was in honour to deplume them,
Fry them golden and consume them.
But her grief, of course, was great
As they lay in naked state
By the oven, all dismembered,
They who once, as she remembered,
Gaily scratched for morsels hidden
In the farmyard sand our midden.

Widow Bolter weeps anew;
Spitz, her dog, is present too.

Max and Moritz smell the dinner.
To the roof; we´re on a winner!”

Down the smoking chimney spying
They an see the chickens frying.
Minus heads and feet they splutter
Scrumptious brown in bubbling butter.

While the chicken plop and splatter,
Widow Bolter takes a platter

Down the cellar for a spot of
Sauerkraut she thinks a lot of,
More particularly when
It had been warmed up again.

Meanwhile in their roof position
Max and Moritz start their mission.
Crafty Max brought rod and reel
Well prepared to catch a meal.

Allez-oop! He´s hooked a chicken
Dripping fat and fingerlickin´!
Allez-oop! Here´s number two;
Allez-oop! The third one, too;
Number four is not forgot,
Allez-oop! We´ve got a lot.
Though the dog had seen their crime
Barking wildly all the time,

Nonetheless, the thieves effected
Their escape and gaily legged it.
Well, that dropped the dog right in it,
For the widow came that minute;
My! How was she disconcerted
When she saw the pan deserted!

Not one chicken – zero! Nought!
Spitz!” - that was her instant thought.

Oh, you brute, what have you done!
Just you wait, I´ll fetch you one!”

And she fetches him a clout
With a spoon both hard and stout.
Spitz cries out in high lament
For he feels he´s innocent.

In their hiding place the wicked
Boys lie snoring in the thicket.
And of all the chicken fry
Just two drumsticks wave goodbye.

So much for the second trick;
Worse to follow in a tick.


The Third Trick

All the village population
knew of Mr. Duck´s vocation.

Working clothes or Sunday bests,
Dinner jackets, gaudy vests,
Waistcoats with a lot of pockets,
Winter coats or hacking jackets -
Each and all of the foregoing
Tailor Duck was good at sewing.
Or if something needed mending,
Taken in or else extending,
Or a trouser button´s stitching
Had come loose and needed fixing -
When or where or what it was
Duck will take it on because,
Be it fancy dress or surplice,
Sewing is his life and purpose.
Hence, the village folk commend him
And are eager to befriend him.
Max and Moritz contemplated
How to make him agitated.

For along the tailor´s dwelling
Ran a river fast and swelling;

And the footpath, bank to bank,
Was connected by a plank.

This was what the lads had plans for
And for which they brought a handsaw.
Wish-a-woosh! The saw-blade neatly
Cuts the bridge, but not completely.

When the deed was done, the boys
Started making lots of noise:
Hey, come out, old Daffy Duck!
Tailor, tailor, quack, quack, quack!”
Every kind of ridicule
Duck could stand and keep his cool,
But the sound of that refrain
Really went against the grain.

Quickly to his anger yielding
Duck jumps out his ruler wielding.
For again the quacks he fears
Are intoned and reach his ears.

Blindly on the bridge he blunders;
Crack! the sawn plank gives and sunders.

Quack, quack, quack! The taunts go on.
Splash! and look! - the tailor´s gone.

Duck was running short of air,
When a goose and gander pair

Paddled by whose legs by luck
He grabbed hold of, terror-struck.

With the geese´s legs in hand
He was fluttered back to land.

By the way, such goings on
Are not very good for one.

And, indeed, the tailor´s troubles
Left him with the collywobbles.

To her credit, here his missus
Heats the iron till it hisses,
Puts it where he feels the pain
And restored his health again.

Soon the village end to end
Hears that Duck is on the mend.

So much for the third bad trick;
Worse to follow in a tick.


The Fourth Trick

History at every turn
Shows that man has much to learn.
Not alone the ABC
Fuels man´s ascendancy;
Not just literacy increases
The potential of the species;
Nor should clever book revision
Be the sum of man´s ambition.
He must also hear with pleasure
Lessons drawn from wisdom´s treasure.

And to see this instituted
Master Lampel was recruited.

Max and Moritz, wisdom spurning,
Didn´t like this man of learning;
For all wicked tricksters hate
School where they must concentrate.

Now this teacher chanced to be
A tobacco devotee,
Something which one hardly can
Hold against a nice, old man
When it helps him to unwind
And forget the daily grind.
Max and Moritz, unrelenting,
Are in process if inventig
Something apt to take a swipe
At the teacher through his pipe.
So on Sunday, as routinely
Lampel sits in church serenely,

And with soulful temperament
Plays the keyboard instrument,

Max, together with his buddy,
Sneak inside the master´s study
Where his pipe of meerschaum stands;
Max here holds it in his hands.

What is going on, you ask?
Moritz from the powder flask
Fills the meerschaum – stuff, stuff, stuff
Till the pipe is charged enough.
But they do not hang about
For the church is nearly out.

Lampel, now at ease and free,
Shuts the church and turns the key.

Done with his official chores,
He, with book and music scores,

Now sets course with sprightly paces
For his hearth and home´s oasis,

And with thankfulness ignites
His tobacco pipe´s delights.

Ah!” he sighs, “what greater bliss
Is there than contentedness?”

Bang! The meerschaum pipe goes off
Loud like a Kalashnikov!

Coffee pot and rubbish bin,
Inkwell and tobacco tin,
Stove and wing chair fly and crash
In a mighty powder flash.

As the smoke cloud slowly clears,
Lampel – praise be! reappears.
There he lies beside the chair
Still alive, but worse for wear.

Face and hands by soot pervasion
Look more Moorish than Caucasian;
And his hair in just one flash
Was reduced to smudgy ash.

Who will now teach kids at college
To advance scientific knowledge?
Who has now the will and vision
To continue Lampel´s mission?
Out of what will he be smoking,
Now his meerschaum pipe is broken?

Time heals all, no matter what,
Just the pipe has had its lot.

So much for the fourth bad trick
Worse to follow in a tick.


The Fifth Trick

If you have an uncle who
Doesn´t live too far from you,
Be attentive, fetch and bring,
Uncles like that sort of thing.
Mornings say “good morning” and
Ask him if he needs a hand.
Fetch his pipe, the book he reads
And whatever else he needs.
Or if there is something which
Bites his back and makes it itch,
Cheerfully and with dispatch
Lend a hand and help him scratch.
Or if uncle blinks and wheezes
From a pinch of snuff and sneezes,
You must after each a-tishoo
Show concern and say “God bless you!”
When he´s home late feeling rough,
Help him pull his wellies off,
Fetch his slippers and a rug
To keep uncle warm and snug.
All in all, a girl or boy
Does what gives an uncle joy.

Max and Moritz, it appears,
Had quite different ideas.
They preferred to use their wits
Playing tricks on Uncle Fritz.

May bugs by their shape and size
Are not hard to recognise.
In the trees you see them flit,
Creep about or merely sit.

Max and Moritz, looking gleeful,
Shake the bugs down by the treeful,

Pop them into bags of paper
For a creepy-crawly caper.

Next the beetle bags go down
Under Fritz´s eiderdown.

Soon the uncle goes to bed
With his nightcap on his head,

Shuts his eyes and starts to snore
Never dreaming what´s in store.

But the beetles – prickly, tickly,
Trickle from the mattress quickly,

Lots of bugs the first of which
Tickles Uncle Fritz`s snitch.

Wow!” he hollers feeling sick
As he grabs the monster tick.

Out of bed the uncle leaps,
For the bugs give him the creeps.

Ugh!” the beetles buzz and hum
Setting on his legs and bum.

In the dark they crawl and stir
With a spooky, rustling whirr.

Uncle Fritz in mortal dread
Beats and stamps the whole lot dead.

There! - that got you, serves you right,
No more creepy-crawls tonight!”

Peace restored, the uncle lies
Back in bed and shuts his eyes.

So much for the fifth bad trick,
Worse to follow in a tick.


The Sixth Trick

In the lovley Easter wake,
When the pious bakers bake
Every kind of sweet creation
Topped with sugar decoration,
Max and Moritz wished they too
Had themselves a cake or two.

But the baker, as they saw,
Shut and locked the bakehouse door.

So, to steal here, come what may,
They must use old Santa´s way.

Woosh! And down the chimney stack
Shoot the two, turned raven black.

Puff! Into the chest they whiz
Where within the flour is.

Here you see them as they walk
Head to toe as white as chalk.

But already with great pleasure
They detect the pretzel treasure.

Crack! The chair breaks up and – oh!

Slosh! - they´re lying in the dough.

Smothered in the sticky mixture
There they stand, a sorry pixture.

But the baker in his slippers
Has observed the sweet-toothed nippers.

One, two. Three – and to their dread,
They are turned to loaves of bread.

With the oven still aglow,
Ready, steady, in you go!

From the oven out they slide,
Brown and good like Mother´s Pride.

You would think they are kaputt;
No, they´re still alive en croute!

Like two mice they crunch and munch
Through the casing - thanks for lunch!

And the baker in dismay
Cries: “My God, they´ve got away!”

So much for the sixth bad trick,
Now the last one in a tick.



The Last Trick

Max and Moritz! Woe! Take heed!
This will be your last misdeed!
Why must Moritz, why must Max,
Go and slash these barley sacks?

Here you see the farmer Farleigh
Coming for his sacks of barley.

Hardly has he moved a metre,
Out the barley starts to peter.

And he grumbles: “Arr, yon blighter
On me back is growing lighter!”

Hey! He spots the cheery pals
Hiding in the cereals.

Scroop! He shovels up and bags
Both the pesky scallywags.

Max and Moritz feel quite ill,
For they´re heading for the mill.

Hi there, Miller! Be a mate!
Kindly grind this while I wait!”

Give it here!” He shakes each brute
Out and down the corn mill´s chute.

Rumble, grumble; batter, chatter
Grinds the mill with cracking clatter.

Here you see them re-created
Coarsely ground and granulated.

But the miller´s ducks soon scoff
Their remains and see them off.

The End

When the village heard of it,
No one grieved the slightest bit.
Widow Bolter, soft and low,
Spoke: “Ah well – I told you so!”
Tailor Duck said: “Yes, yes, yes,
Wickedness is purposeless!”
Thereupon spoke teacher Lampel:
It´s a typical example!”
Yes,” the baker said, “in truth,
Man has far too sweet a tooth!”
Even kindly Uncle Fritz
Said: “That comes from playing tricks!”
Farmer Farleigh uttered: “Eeh!
It is nowt to do with me!”
So the village and surrounds
Were abuzz with happy sounds:
Thank the Lord that we are free -
Saved from all their villainy!!”