Feb 29: I sing the monotonous hexameter

And so on Leap Day today's reading is Goethe's Hermann and Dorothea
Which was written in noble hexameters (so beloved of the Greeks and the Romans)
But preserving the meter in English makes the poem sound kind of retarded
For the ponderous length of the line makes characters talk just like windbags:
“Tell us,” the pastor returned, “what legerdemain he made use of.”
“That will I gladly relate, for all may draw from it a lesson;”
(That's my favorite part of the reading, involving not Hermann, nor Dorothea
Instead it's just business, delaying the entrance of our nominal heroes
And to us imparting a lesson -- that the cure for impatience's the coffin:
Then that house of boards they will busily bring over hither,
Which must at last receive alike the impatient and patient,
And which is destined soon with close-pressing roof to be covered.’
The poem otherwise is a love story -- she's French and he's a big German
She's running away from the Terror, and he hires her as his servant.
What our would-be maid's little suspecting is that she's to be wedded instead --
Although in terms of the workload there seems to be little distinction.
What a treat it must be for a French girl, to become Mrs. Hermann the hausfrau!

No comments: