More Family Sayings 10/6/08
34. „Aller Anfang ist schwer.” (“All new beginnings are difficult.”)
35. „Mit Sorgen und mit Grämen und mit selbsteigner Pein
lässt Gott sich garnichts nehmen, es muss erbeten sein.“
(„With groans and self castigation, we won’t get anywhere with God. We’ll only receive it by prayer.”) This is a beautiful Paul Gerhardt verse from his song: „Befiehl du deine Wege.” Charles Wesley has a translation of some verses of this song in the old red Service Book and Hymnal, # 579, but not of this verse. What is so daunting in Gerhardt’s verses is the acrostic, where the first word of every verse reads: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, He’ll do it all.” Psalm 37:5. To work on it a bit:
“With groans and heavy grieving, self-torture and despair,
we will not be receiving, what God only grants by prayer.”
36. „Studiere nur und raste nie, du wirst es nicht begreifen. Ende alle Philosophie, ist dass wir galuben müssen.”
(Keep on studying and do not rest. But after all our Philosophy we end up having to believe.)
37. „Wer einen Pfennig nicht ehrt, ist einen Taler nicht wert.” (”Whoever doesn’t value a penny will also not be worthy of a dollar.”) I thank Priscilla for this one!
38. „Du hast kein Sitzefleisch!“ (How to translate that? “You have no flesh to sit on!” Father would say this when we squirmed on a chair and could not remain still and seated.
39. „Ich muss mal gehen wo der Kaiser selbst zu Fuss geht.“ (“I have to go, where the kaiser himself has to walk and do it himself,“) that is, go to the bathroom.
40. My father would stroke his mustache, sein Schnurrbart, and say, „Nur eine Kleinigkeit!” (“Just a detail!”) I’m not sure what he meant by it.
41. „Noch einen Spatenstich!“ (“Dig one spade more!“) My father always said this when my youngest brother was digging the garden and he didn’t dig a full row.
42. „Acht Tage Schwanheim!“ (“Eight days of Schwanheim!“) Whenever we did not like our food and complained or did not eat it all, someone would say that. We starved so much in that UNRA camp in Schwanheim, that baby James died, and we would eat anything we could get our hands on. I remember eating apple peals thrown into a hole behind the guard house at the entrance of the camp.
43. „Nichts ist schwerer zu ertragen als eine Reihe von guten Tagen.“ (“Nothing is harder to endure than a series of good days.”) This saying my father said often. It’s a little like Lake Woebegone.
44. „Studenten Jahren sind keine Herre Jarhen.“ (“Student years are not the years of Lords.”) My father said this to emphasize that being a student was hard work, drudgery, poverty, slavery. In graduate school they said, “If you live like a lawyer when you are a student, then you’ll live like a student when you’re a lawyer.” That referred to taking out student loans. What happens if you take out such loans and you remain unemployed? Sigh!
45. „Ich bin ein geplagter Eheman!“ (“I am a tormented husband!“) When my father had to do housework or deal with criticism from my mother. I say this to myself when I do the dishes.
46. „Andrer Leuten Fehler sind angenehme Lehrer.” (I’m not sure of the wording on this one.) (“The mistakes of others are precious instructors.”)
The mistakes of others are pleasant teachers, because they suffer and we get instruction from them.
47. „Wie ist dein Wettkampf gegangen?“
„Sehr gut. Bald lag er oben, bald lag ich unten.“
“How did your wrestling match go?”
“It went very well. Sometimes he was on top and sometimes I was on the bottom.” This was one my father’s jokes.
48. Another one. Student comes into his dorm room, while the other is already in bed.
„Du, schloppst Du?“ “Hey, are you sleeping?“
„Nein, ich schlopp nicht.“ “No, I’m not.“
„Kannst Du mir ein Dollar Pumpen?“ “Can you lend me a dollar?“
„Nein, nein. Ich schlopp.“ “No, no, I’m sleeping!“
49. A beggar has a sign saying,
“Please help me. I’m deaf.”
A fellow, putting something into his cup, asks,
“How long is it you’ve been deaf?”
“Since my birth.” He answers. „Seid meiner Geburt.“
50. „Er /sie hält kein Blatt vor dem Mund!“ (This means a person is very outspoken, blunt.)
51. „Bestellt aber nicht abgeholt.” (“Ordered but not picked up.”)
(When people or children just stand there somewhat forlorn and in disarray.
52. „Nun hat die liebe Seele Ruh!“
(“Now finally your soul will get some rest.”)
When you finally received something you really wanted, but my father resisted your getting it until he gave in.
53. „Bist Du nicht recht beim Trost?“ (“Are you crazy?“)
54. „Da bleibt einem die Spuche weg!“ (“That takes away a body’s spit!”)
i.e., it’s so outrageous, you can’t believe it.
55. „Von links nach rechts ist schlecht, von rechts nach links gelingst.“
(“From left to right is blight, from right to left is deft.”)
Evidently this is about superstition. When a cat crossed your road from the right to the left, what you set out to do would be successful. When the cat went from left to right, you would not, so you might as well return home. 56. „Bist du nicht ein Strampelman?" One of Mom's little sayings to babies, when she exercised them and they threw their arms and kicked their legs with delight. How would I translate “Strampelman?” 57. „Hop, hop Reiter, Wenn er fählt - ‚er’ schreit er. Fählt er in den Graben, so fressen ihn die Raben, Fählt er in den Sumpf, dann macht der Reiter plumps.“ This was a poem my mother recited while bouncing one of her children up and down on her knees and then letting them fall backward, holding their hands, of course, for the thrill, which was pure delight. It is of course problematic in content, like “Rock-a-bye baby”. “If he falls in the ditch, then the ravens will eat him!” Maybe part of it is mindless rhyming („Reim dich oder fress dich!”) when one rhymed simply for the sake of rhyming, even if it made no sense. 58. “Just think that everybody out there has cabbage heads.” Mom said this when we did public speaking and had stage-fright. 59. „Das sind Geschichten des Lebens, die im Tode nicht mehr vorkommen.“ My father would say. (These are stories in life that no longer take place in death.)