Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

(Originally published in the September 28, 1983 issue of
The Shopping News)

Der Dichder Un Der Kinschdler
A Pennsylvania German Play
By Ernest Waldo Bechtel
Cast Of Characters


Der Dichder – The poet

En Bedreibder Mann – A depressed man

Der Kinschdler – The artist

Curtain Uffgang

We see a park scene. Seated on a bench is the poet and a depressed man. In due time, the artist appears on the scene carrying a large briefcase, an easel and some paint brushes.


Dichder: (to the depressed man seated on the bench beside him) En scheener Daag heit!

Bedriebder Mann: Sell kummt yuscht druff aa wie mer die Welt un die Mensche seht. Lewe is schwer un Elend an alle Eck.

D(ichder): Des scheint as wann dir alles verleed waard. Was is die Druwwel?

B(edriebder) M(ann): Kann’s Lewe net verschteh. Wu kummt mer bei? Wu geht mer anne? Nemm mich fer en Beischpiel – en ausgelebder Mann. Un wann ich zurick iwwer die Yaahr guck, kennt ich brille.

D.: Ferwas brille? Gewiss die Lewe waar net so schlecht!

B.M.: Ya un nee! Awwer mei ganz Lewe waar die gross Froget in meine Gedanke: “Wu kummt mer bei un wu geht mer hie?”

D.: Well, es wunnert mich net so viel, wu mer beikumme, awwer ebmols wunnert’s mich aa, wu mer annegehne nochdem as mer do waare.

At this time, the artist appears even while the conversation is taking place. He stops and listens.

Kinschdler: Un wie seid dir Kalls heit?

D.: (looks at depressed man, then replies) Mir is alles recht gut, awwer ihm is scheins alles verleed.

K(inschdler) (with great zest): Was is die Druwwel? Lach un die Welt lacht mit dir, blarr un du blarrscht eeleenich – Lewe is yuscht en Schissel voll Kasche.

B.M.: Seller as gsaat hot: “Lach un die Welt lacht mit dir, blarr un du blarrscht eeleenich, hett “brille” saage selle un daer as mehnt es Lewe is yuscht en Schissel voll Kasche is entwedders gsoffe adder narrisch!

K.: Yammer, Mann, du bischt imme schlechde Mut. Well, ich binn en Kinschdler (opens brief case) un iwwer die letschde paar Woche hawwich es Menschevolk wennich schtudiert un hab die Dinger as ich gsehne hab do druff in Fareb (shows a woman carrying a baby).

B.M.: Un was soll sell saage?

K.: Des weisst der Aafang vumme Lewe – en Kind in die Aarem vun seine Memm.

B.M.: Un was is so wichdich mit sellem? Sis yuscht der Aafang vumme Elend.

D.: Loss uns mol dem Kall sei Pickders begucke. Verleicht kenne mir ebbes lanne.

K.: (Shows a second painting. This painting shows two toddlers. One is wobbling along while the second has taken a tumble.) Do kennt dir sehne wie’s eich gange is en eier Kindheit.

D.: (Has removed a notebook from his pocket and begins to write.)

K.: (Shows a third painting: A young man walking erect with great enthusiasm.) Do, gmaant des eich net an eich selwert wu dir yung Mischthaahne waart?

B.M.: Sell sin yuscht Pickders un sie duhne nix fer mich un ich seh aa nix as des ebbes dutt fer ihn (points to Dichder). Er is am Schreiwe – verleicht an seim Wille mache?

K.: (Shows a fourth painting: A young man working on a farm.) Datt, kennt dir eich sehne im Daagluh.

B.M.: Huh! Un was soll so arig sei mit sellem? Mer hen uns halwer dod schaffe misse fer yuscht paar Sent. (A slight pause.) Ich, ennihau!

K.: (Shows a fifth painting depicting an old man stooped in age.) Do is wu die annere Pickders uns anne gfiehrt hen. Es Bobbli zum schtolze yunge Mann, zu de zwee Menner im Daagluh, un nau zu dem alde Mann.

B.M.: (While Dichder continues to write.) Reib’s net weider nei. Ich selwert bin graad wie seller alt Bock in deim Pickder. (He shakes his head.) Dei Pickders saage nix zu mir as ich net schun wees – unne mei Froget: “Wu gehne mer hie?”

K.: (Shows final picture. This picture can show a casket carried by six men or simply a grave site.) Do, des is es End!

B.M.: (Jumps from bench in anger.) Du dummer Ox! Witt nau noch die Dode fer Narr halde? Nee, die Pickders saage mir nix!

K.: Mei liewer Friend. Hoscht du net gewisst as ee Pickder en dausend Wadde waart is?

B.M.: Net zu mir. Ich such Wadde as die Gwalt hen fer dief in em sei Seel schluppe. Ich bin en Pennsilfaanisch Deitscher un ich such selle Wadde as ich bescht verschteh un dei Pickders kenne sell net duh – yuscht die rechde Wadde kenne mir helfe, awwer wu finn ich selle Wadde?

D.: (Holding notebook.) Verleicht hawwich die Antwatt zu dem Mann sei Druwwel. Er sucht Wadde. En Gedicht, verleicht?

K.: Bischt du en Dichder?

D.: Well, ebbes vun eem. Hab schunt blendi geschriwwe. Fer en Beischpiel, do sin zwee as ich yuscht gschriwwe hab die Weil as dir am Schwetze waart. (Dichder reads what he has written. Both the artist and the depressed man listen.)

(Continued next week)


The Poet And The Artist

Poet: Beautiful day today!

Depressed Man: That depends on how one views the world and mankind. Life is troublesome and there is misery everywhere.

P(oet): It appears that your life is filled with troubles. What’s the matter?

D(epressed) M(an): I can’t understand life. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Take me for an example – a burned out man. And when I look back over the years, I could weep.

P.: Why weep? Certainly your life was not that bad!

D.M.: Yes and no! But throughout my entire life the great question was in my thoughts: “From whence have we come and whither are we going?”

P.: Well, I’m not bothered so much by where we come from, but sometimes I too ask myself, where are we going after we’ve been here.

Artist: How are you fellows doing today?

P.: I’m fine, but he appears to be depressed.

A(rtist): What’s your trouble? Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone – and life is but a bowl of cherries.

D.M.: He who said: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone!” should have said “cry” (instead of “laugh”) and he who thinks that life is but a bowl of cherries is either drunk or a fool.

A.: Mercy, man, you are in a bad Mood. Well, I am an artist and during the past few weeks I’ve studied mankind a bit and the things I’ve seen I put here in paint.

D.M.: And what does that represent?

A.: This shows the beginning of life – a child in the arms of its mother.

D.M.: And what’s so important about that? It’s but the beginning of our misery.

P.: Let’s look at this fellow’s pictures. Perhaps we can learn something.

A.: Here you can see how it was in your childhood.

A.: Here, doesn’t this remind you of yourselves when you were young barnyard roosters?

D.M.: Those are but pictures and they do nothing for me and I see nothing that does him any good. He’s writing – perhaps making his will?

A.: There, you can see yourselves earning a living.

D.M.: Huh! And what’s so special about that? We had to work ourselves half to death for a few cents. At least I had to!

A.: Here is where the other pictures have brought us to. A baby, to a proud young man, to the two men earning their daily bread, and now to this old man.

D.M.: Don’t rub it in again. I’m just like the old goat in your picture. Your pictures tell me nothing that I don’t already know – without my question: “What is our destination?”

A.: Here, this is the end!

D.M.: You stupid ox! Now you want to make fools of the dead? No, your pictures mean nothing to me!

A.: My dear friend. Don’t you know that a picture is worth a thousand words?

D.M.: Not to me. I’m looking for words that have the power to slip deeply into one’s soul. I’m a Pennsylvania Dutchman and I’m looking for those words that I can best understand and your pictures can’t do that – only the right words can help me, but where do I find those words?

P.: Perhaps I have the answer to this man’s troubles. He seeks words. Perhaps a poem?

A.: Are you a poet?

P.: Well, some kind of one. I’ve written much. For an example, here are two poems that I just wrote while you two were talking.

(Continued next week.)


We encourage our readers to clip each installment of this Dutch play and reread the entire play when the final installment appears.

September 28, 1983

Es Bischli-Gnippli