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“My Mother Tongue,” by Klaus Groth, a Poem Translated from Low German (dithmarscher Mundart)

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My Mother Tongue

by Klaus Groth

My mother tongue, so sweet the sound,

How dear you are to me!

Were my heart made of stone or steel,

To speak it proud I’d be.

You bend my stiff neck so gently

Like Mother with her arm.

You caress my lips and face

And I’m completely calm.

Again I feel like a little child:

The whole world disappears.

You breathe health into my sick breast

Like spring winds of yester-years.

My grandpa folds my hands again

And says to me: “Now pray!”

An “Our Father” I then begin

Like in my childhood’s day.

My heart speaks and everything pours out,

Feeling deeply understood,

As heaven’s peace descends round about

And things again are good.

My mother tongue so simple and fair

Has a reverent air!

If someone merely said “my father,”

It sounded like a prayer.

For me no music or chorus is quite as glorious

Not even the nightingale’s grace.

In the twinkling of an eye, I just sigh,

As tears stream down my face.

By Klaus Groth (1819-1899)

Born in Heide, Holstein, he became a professor of the German language and literature at Kiel and wrote in the dialect of Dithmarsch.

Translated into High German:

Meine Mutter Sprache, wie klingst du schön

Wie bist du mir vertraut.

Wenn auch mein Herz aus Stahl und Stein,

du treibst den Stolz heraus.

Du biegst mein steifes Genick so leicht,

wie Mutter mit ihrem Arm.

Du streichelst mich ums Angesicht

Und still ist alles Larm.

Ich fühl mich wie ein kleines Kind;

Die ganze Welt ist weg.

Du pust mich wie ein Frühlingswind

Die kranke Brust zurecht.

Mein Opa faltet mir noch die Hände,

und sagt zu mir, „Nun bete!“

Und „Vater unser“ fang ich an,

wie ich wohl früher getan.

Und fühle so tief, das ich’s verstand

Und so spricht das Herz sich aus

Und Ruhe vom Himmel weht mich an

Und alles ist wieder gut.

Meine Mutter Sprache, so schlicht und recht

Du alt frommes Reden.

Wenn blos ein Mund „mein Vater“ sagt,

so klingst mir wie Beten.

So herrlich klingt mir keine Musik,

und singt keine Nachtigall.

Mir läuft jetzt gleich im Augenblick,

die hellen Tränen hernieder.

Nun in dithmarscher Mundart:

Min Modersprak.

  1. Min Modersprak, wa klingst du schön!

Wa büst du mir vertrut!

Weer ok min Hart as Stahl und Steen,

Du drevst den Stolt herut.

2. Du bögst min stiwe Nack so licht,

As Moder mit ern Arm,

Du fichelst mi umt Angesicht,

Un still is alle Larm.

3. Ick föhl mi as en luttjet Kind,

De ganze Welt is weg.

Du pust mi as en Voerjahrswind

De kranke Boss torecht.

4. Min Obbe folt mi noch de Hann’

Und seggt to mi: Nu bee!

Un „Vader Unser“ sag ick an

As ick wohl früher dee.

5. Un föhl so deep: dat ward verstan,

So sprickt dat Hart sick ut,

Un Rau vunn Himmel weiht mi an

Un all’ns is wedder gut!

6. Min Modersprak, so slicht un recht

Du ole frame Red!

Wenn blot en Mund „mi Vader“ seggt,

So klingt mi’t as en Bed.

7. So herrli klingt mi keen Musik

Un singt keen Nachtigall;

Mi lopt je glik in Ogenblick

De hellen Tran hendal.[1]

[1] From Otto Hattstädt, Professor am Concordia Gymnasium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Handbuch der deutschen Nationalliteratur von ihrem ersten Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1906), page 495.


Written by peterkrey

May 13, 2009 at 6:37 am

Posted in My Poems, Translation

6 Responses

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  1. Dear Readers,

    Translating this poem from Low German was very difficult. Sometimes I strayed from meanings that I understood for the sake of the poetry, but sometimes I was not sure of the meaning. If you can help me, I would be very thankful.

    The Translator,

    peter krey


    May 13, 2009 at 7:13 am



    January 6, 2011 at 2:11 am

  3. great sir

    Pratik Devchand Bahira

    January 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  4. Dear Peter Krey, your have chosen very good poetry and made wonderful translation! It goes straight to the heart! Many thanks! Keep going and bring more or your works here and to people in general – Great Poetry is uniting us, is n’t it true-?! Good luck! =:)))


    April 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

  5. […] “My Mother Tongue,” by Klaus Groth, a Poem Translated from Low German (dithmarscher Mundart) […]

  6. […] “My Mother Tongue,” by Klaus Groth, a Poem Translated from Low German (dithmarscher Mundart) […]

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