Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jack Harvey writes

Al Mein Gelt Verspilt
      After Grimmelshausen's
Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim

You son of a whore;
you goddamned arrogant bastard,
all your money pissed away,
again and again,
vagrant and on the move
your locomotion never stops,
travel never gets old
and vagabondage becomes
a rhombus;
Paris to Vienna
to the Schwarzwald,
to Moscow, to mermen,
ending on an island paradise;
idylls of an
out and out scoundrel,
a picturesque rogue,
leaving his life,
his skirmishes
on the road and
of his own free will,
coming to peace at last.

What a life!
Melchior comes juggling
along life's distorted turnpike,
his cloak, a crust of wool,
disappears around a corner,
but like an architrave,
supporting and adorning,
Melchior, our low water,
our ebb tide,
our luck, reappeareth!

Along this road
his breastplate creaks and
squeaks, debased from
too much hard use;
a skillful soldier,
a better captain, but
bad decisions among
gentle folk folded him up;
a bungled passage,
a few hasty words and
departure was final.

Skipping out in the night,
the moon is reticent
and behind closed doors
what goes on is
nobody's business and
no help to this wanderer;
no charitable souls
in God's light or livery
live here.

Melchior strides on like
the dragoon he never was,
tramps comically and
catching some
dumb country lass,
retires at last with a sphinx
who stinks of more than knowledge;
in the morning her lovely
stone arms hold no more than
the billow of Melchior's bedclothes.
He left hours ago,
marching across the inhospitable heath;
his intent lasted to a satisfying root,
a roll in the hay and
no goodbyes;

doesn't have the time.

These adventures come in flocks,
and what in all the world,
what in all the world
is as real as the red herrings
thrown across his meandering trail,
in the windings of his ways,
and windy, too, from too
many open windows,
too many getaways;

no time for introspection
in the heat of the moment.

Melchior whispering in the
grey ears of Death, it's not time   
yet, it's not, but Melchior's fears
assume oracular importance;
on his snorting horse
he rides hard, rides on and on;

any delay may pitch him down.

The poetry of the moment given
to the most Fabian of his
lights of love,
the best of all his rare birds and
clear-toned canaries;
let her do with it
what she wants,
speak clear-toned vowels
never before heard
in any of the lands he saw,
the cities and villages he visited;
like a Bengal tiger raging and
shifting his line of march,
like a beggar, too,
when occasion demanded.

This is the end.
An island of peace,
a romance of fate and abdication.

Before we resume our
various hyperborean tasks,
let us pay some respect
to this scoundrel, this devourer,
this waster, this wanderer;
let us be warm and friendly
all the livelong day
to his memory,
to a man
not afraid to go his own way,
large bold unpredictable,
who performed tawdry wonders,
who had his luck,
good and bad,
and laughed at it.

Let a last percussion of
prima-donnas shout loud
the glad verbiage of
approbation and love;
glory, glory, glory,
in excelsis,
cog and wheel,
type and terminal of
the armies of disorganized chance.

Melchior, props we are
and we know it,
not necessary for your support,
but in your unwritten reports
signal us sometimes,
put us in your island scrapbook,
for we, too, trace your footsteps
and this, too, Melchior, remember
delusion we do and deceit,
when the harpoon of doomsday
pierces our gloomy backs.
KAISER Friedrich,Landsknecht, an eine Mauer gelehnt, sich ein Essen bereitend,Auktionshaus Quentin,Berlin
 Landsknecht, an eine Mauer gelehnt, sich ein Essen bereitend -- Friedrich Kaiser

1 comment:

  1. “Al Mein Gelt Verspilt” (Everything is Temporary) was the Landsknecht motto. In 1487 emperor Maximilian I formed the Landsknechte (servants of the Lowlands). He exempted them from his sumptary laws and gave them the right to wear whatever colors and types of clothing they wished, so they generally wore garish costumes with multiple colors, spoils of battle, and huge feathered hats. Their "Puff and Slash" style was so named because the outer fabric or garment was slashed, torn, and sewn with holes through which another, contrasting, fabric was pulled through to form puffs. Landsknechte became the best-trained and highest-paid mercenary troops of the time and fought in almost every 16th-century military campaign, sometimes on both sides of the engagement. When Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen was 10 he was kidnapped by Hessian soldiery and impressed into military service. With the end of the 30 Years' War (which resulted in 8 million fatalities) ended in 1648 he entered the service of the bishop of Strassburg. In 1668 he wrote “Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch, d.h. die Beschreibung des Lebens eines seltsamen Vaganten, genannt Melchior Sternfels von Fuchsheim” (The Account of the Life of an Odd Vagrant Named Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim: namely where and in what manner he came into this world, what he saw, learned, experienced, and endured therein; also why he again left it of his own free will), the most popular 17th-century novel, and the 1st German adventure novel. The protagonist was separated from his home by foraging dragoons and adopted by a hermit, who named him Simplicius because he was so simple that he did not know what his own name was. When his mentor died Simplicius was conscripted and embarked on a lifetime as a soldier, male prostitute, outlaw, jester, castaway, and hermit as well as a traveler to Schwarzwald (the Black Forest), Russia, France, Korea, japan, Madagascar, and the country of mermen at the Earth’s core. In one episode he dressed like a girl to escape capture and became the maid to a rich merchant family, and the merchant, his wife, and his servant all tried to seduce him. Throughout the novel Simplicius denounced the corruption, debauchery, and violence he found, while wholeheartedly indulging in it. “Fabian” is an adjective derived from Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, or Cunctator (“Delayer), a 3rd-century BCE Roman dictator who adopted guerrilla tactics against Hannibal.

    St. Hilarius of Pictavium (bishop Hilary of Poitiers) translated “Gloria in excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the highest) into Latin. It was a hymn based on the words that the angels said when the birth of Jesus was announced to shepherds in The Gospel of Luke (2:14), decades before the Vulgate translation of the Bible in 382. He had acquired it in Konstantinopolis, where it was one of the popular “psalmi idiotici” (private psalms written in imitation of the Biblical Psalms) written in the 2nd or 3rd century. In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches it is known as the Doxology and is read on weekday afternoon and evening services and sung on Sundays and feast days , and in the Roman Catholic church is sung or recited in the Mass on most Sundays and feast days. The Anglicans sang it just before the concluding blessing, but in modern usage it may be sung in its original Catholic position instead. It has been sung to hundreds of melodies, including 2 by Antonio Vivaldi.


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