On the Death of a Drinking Buddy

By Johann Peter Hebel
Translated by Daniel Webster

They’ve put a man into his grave
A shame his genius could not be saved!
Go where you will to meet his kind
his equal you will never find.

He was a scholar of astonomy.
In every village he came to, he
would run to each house, near and far,
to see if there hung the sign of THE STAR.

He was a courageous knight, they say.
In every village he’d ask straight away
if there might be some dark spots where
he’d find the sign of THE LION or BEAR.

A pious Christian, certainly,
both day and night, in villages, he’d
do penance in his quiet way.
Beneath THE CROSS he’d go to pray.

His name is known in town and country
to all the people of quality.
His dearest friends at all times were
THE THREE KINGS, whom you know, I’m sure.

He sleeps now,  knowing nothing. There comes
a time like this for everyone.

from the Alemannic dialect  ca. 1803


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