Loriot and his poem about “Advent” – an example of German humour

During this time of the year we’re used to stories showing the values of our traditions and religions. Most of them are shared with children.

The poem I would like to share in this post is about the time of advent and St. Nicholas.


Ödipussi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is written and performed by the German comedian, humorist, cartoonist, film director, actor and writer Vicco von Bülow (1923-2011) alias Loriot. He is best known for his cartoons, the sketches from his 1976 television series Loriot, alongside Evelyn Hamann, and his two movies, Ödipussi (1988) and Pappa Ante Portas (1991).

In six episodes of Loriot, he presented sketches, usually being the protagonist himself, and short cartoons, drawn by himself.

Loriot’s humour focussed on the peculiarities of German people including the awkwardness of everyday situations and miscommunication in human interaction.

“What I am interested in most of all are people whose communication fails. All that I consider comical results from crumbled communication, from talk at cross purposes.” (Loriot)

His cartoons hinged on the contrast between the presented situation, the dignity displayed by his typically big nosed characters and the picture’s caption. Inevitably one of these elements gets out of line, for example, when he combines the caption “We demand equal treatment of men and women, even if the suckling baby might temporarily lose weight.” with the picture of a bulbous-nosed man breast-feeding a baby in a distinguished manner. The topics of his cartoons were mainly drawn from everyday life, scenes of the family and middle-class society. (wikipedia)

This contrast between absurd an situation and dignified behaviour are very characteristic for his sketches and films. Loriot was incredibly popular. The accuracy of his language and the “high-brow sense of comedy led to the adoption of a large number of phrases and inventions from the series’ sketches into German common knowledge and everyday speech.” There is the “yodel diploma”, the “stone louse” and sentences like “With that, you have somehing on your own!”, “Please, don’t talk right now…”, “There used to be more tinsel”, “Look, a piano! A piano, a piano!” or the laconic “Ach!?” (“Oh, is it?”…).

In this macabre poem entitled Advent (1973), Loriot lent Knecht Ruprecht its diabolic-sinister context from which he originated.



Es blaut die Nacht, die Sternlein blinken,      / The night turns blue, the stars are twinkling

Schneefloecklein leis herniedersinken.      / snowflakes quietly are sinking.

Auf Edeltaennleins gruenem Wipfel     / The fire tree tops are beaming green

haeuft sich ein kleiner weisser Zipfel. / and little snow heaps can be seen.

Und dort vom Fenster her durchbricht / There! From a window  rather bright

den dunklen Tann ein warmes Licht.   / through the trees there goes a light.

Im Forsthaus kniet bei Kerzenschimmer / Lit by candles, woodman’s hut

die Foersterin im Herrenzimmer. / the woodman’s wife sits on her butt (in the woodman’s study).

In dieser wunderschoenen Nacht  / Just in this silent winter time

hat sie den Foerster umgebracht.  / has she committed murder crime

Er war ihr bei des Heimes Pflege / and killed the woodman in great haste

seit langer Zeit schon im Wege.   / she thought of him as rather waste.

So kam sie mit sich ueberein:   / Thus was the plan. At Nichlas Eve

am Niklasabend muss es sein. / poor wasteful woodman had to leave

Und als das Rehlein ging zur Ruh’, / when deer was from the forest creeping

das Haeslein tat die Augen zu,  / the little rabbit started sleeping

erlegte sie direkt von vorn  / a rifle took the woodman’s wife

den Gatten ueber Kimme und Korn. / and took away her husbands life.

Vom Knall geweckt ruempft nur der Hase / The bang annoyed the rabbit’s sleep

zwei-, drei-, viermal die Schnuppernase  / for just a minute, when he was deep

und ruhet weiter suess im Dunkeln, / and in the forest, thinking

derweil die Sternlein traulich funkeln.  / while high above the stars were twinkling.

Und in der guten Stube drinnen / And in the woodman’s snuggery

da laeuft des Foersters Blut von hinnen. / his blood escapes the artery.

Nun muss die Foersterin sich eilen, / The woodman’s wife must quickly act

den Gatten sauber zu zerteilen. / and cuts the woodman – that’s a fact

Schnell hat sie ihn bis auf die Knochen / as custom is for woodmans doing

nach Waidmanns Sitte aufgebrochen. / she skins her husband without woeing.

Voll Sorgfalt legt sie Glied auf Glied / With care she places all the pieces

(was der Gemahl bisher vermied)-, / and keeps a filet for her nieces

behaelt ein Teil Filet zurueck / as festive roast, a tender part

als festtaegliches Bratenstueck / she thinks that this is really smart.

und packt zum Schluss, es geht auf vier / The rest she wraps like Christmas gifts

die Reste in Geschenkpapier. / and thinks of them as precious thrifts.

Da toent’s von fern wie Silberschellen, / Hark! Silver-bells are ringing sweetly

im Dorfe hoert man Hunde bellen. / a dog is barking rather neatly.

Wer ist’s, der in so tiefer Nacht / Who might it be, so late at night,

im Schnee noch seine Runden macht ? / to walk in snow and without light?

Knecht Ruprecht kommt mit goldenem Schlitten / The helper of Santa Claus (Ruprecht) is riding

auf einem Hirsch herangeritten ! / on a stag, and law-abiding,

“He, gute Frau, habt ihr noch Sachen, / he asks the woodman’s wife for presents

die armen Menschen Freude machen ?” / to kids and to the poorer peasants.

Des Foersters Haus ist tief verschneit, / The woodman’s hut lays in the snow

doch seine Frau steht schon bereit: / but woodman’s wife – she isn’t slow:

“Die sechs Pakete, heil’ger Mann, / “Good man, all that I have is gathered here.

‘s ist alles, was ich geben kann.”  / Six wrappings, to the peasants’ peer.

Die Silberschellen klingen leise, / The bells are ringing, nice and pure

Knecht Ruprecht macht sich auf die Reise. / Santa’s helper makes his tour

Im Foerstershaus die Kerze brennt, / a candle in the woodman’s vent

ein Sternlein blinkt – es ist Advent. / is shining there – it is Advent.


translation into English from © Mathias and tastyarts

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