Mudcat Café message #4004319 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #166505   Message #4004319
Posted By: keberoxu
12-Aug-19 - 04:56 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Ick Bin Ein Franzose (Holzerne Bein)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Ick Bin Ein Franzose (Holzerne Bein)
"Hoelzerne Bein," of course, is German for
"wooden leg."
Thus, this military veteran lost one foot, and part of one leg, while serving in the war. He walks with a wooden prosthesis.

Some brief remarks of mine summarizing
the Yves Keler quote in the preceding post.

This lyric falls into the category of written letters, and occasionally poems, written by soldiers to their families during the Napoleonic war while stationed in Germany.

Such lyrics are characterized by a mixture of German and French, along with Alsatian dialect or other dialects according to the soldier's origin.

The many written gaffes/mistakes in the writing occur as often in the French words as they do in the German words.

Many of these surviving letters from soldiers of French ancestry demonstrate that
the author learned his French in his childhood, got as far as elementary school in his formal education.
After finishing elementary school, this French-speaking author did nothing to refresh or maintain his formal learning.
As for his command of German, such a soldier's writing shows that he learned his German on duty.

The author of our poem does not speak the Alsatian dialect, rather he speaks German,
which he could well have picked up in Germany while stationed in the country at a garrison.
This soldier is presumed to be from France.

The next-to-last verse
expresses the dark humor typical of
young men who are,
as the poet Apollinaire phrased it,
better acquainted with death than they are with life.
And that penultimate verse contains, I fear, a typo of some kind.
I copied it exactly as I found it in the Weckerlin edition.

However, "gittig" is a non-existent word, I now find.
I suspect the word is supposed to be the German adjective "giftig."

Here is my attempt at the ninth verse:

What a nasty surprise for the worms who arrive, with joy,
when the battles of my life are over,
expecting to feast on my remains,
when the worms try to devour my wooden leg!