Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

(Originally published in the August 6, 1986 issue of The Shopping News)


By Gladys S. Martin

Un Aagscht is dann, der Muun vun Gewidder:

Der Dunner, der gracht hoeh un nidder.

Der Wedderleech so gehl un hell

Macht die Ard zu ziddere mit der Gnell.

Un all der Himmel’s voll mit Wunner

In Aagscht der mechdich Muun vun Dunner.


And August is the moon of thunder:

The thunder cracks high and low.

The lightning so yellow and bright

Makes the earth tremble with the knell.

And all the heaven is full of wonder

In August, the mighty moon of thunder.



By Parre Eli Keller

Im Auguscht kann mer schwitze,

Sogaar schun beim Sitze.

Sis Sunn un Luft un alles hees –

Gewiss, des macht die Faule bees!

Danze soll mer wie die Micke,

Des bringt Welschkann in die Krippe!


In August one can perspire,

Even while sitting.

The sun and the air – all is hot.

Indeed, this even annoys the lazy ones.

Dancing like the flies,

That brings Indian corn into the cribs!



By Eli Keller

Du liebe alte Freundin,

Hab’ dich schon lang gekannt –

Kein Vogel ist mir lieber,

Im ganzen Vaterland!


So oft ich dich betrachte,

Schlaegt staerker mir mein Herz –

Ich denk an Kindheitstage,

Mit wehmutsvollem Schmerz.


Du traegst dasselbe Roeckchen,

Gemischt mit Aschengrau;

Dasselbe rote Westchen,

Ziert dich auf Feld und Au’.


Dein kleines schwarzes Koepchen,

Traegt keine sond’re Zier –

Und doch (Ich muss bekennen)

Ich habe Lieb zu dir!


Dein Nestchen bau’st du einfach –

Mit Steckchen, Kot und Heu –

Koennt selber so eins machen –

Ich sag es ohne Scheu!


Bist Feind wohl allen Moden,

Und aller eitlen Kunst? –

Ich geb’ dir recht und sage:

Die sind auch – leerer Dunst!


Hab’ oft dich hoeren pauken,

Mit Kind – und allerlei –

Wer koennt dir das verdenken,

Ich ruehm es mir auf’s neu.


Bist herzlich fromm – ich weiss es!

Du duld’st das Boese nicht;

Und dienest deinem Gotte,

Auch wenn man dich anficht!


Dein Herz kennt keine Sorgen,

In seinem tiefsten Grund;

Du singst an jedem Abend,

Und in der Morgenstund.


Ach, wenn ich dich betrachte,

Schlaegt staerker mir mein Herz;

Ich denk’ an Kindheitstage,

Mit wehmutsvollem Schmerz.


Du liebe alte Freundin,

Hab’ dich schon lang gekannt –

Kein Vogel ist mir lieber,

Im ganzen Vaterland.


You dear old friend,

I’ve known you for a long time –

No bird is dearer to me,

In all of my fatherland!


As often as I observe you,

My heart beats louder –

I think of childhood days,

With melancholy pain.


You wear the same little coat,

Mixed with ashen gray;

The same red vest,

Adorns you in field and meadow.


You dear little black head,

You bear without special decoration –

And yet (I must admit)

I am very fond of you!


You build your simple nest –

With small sticks, mud and hay –

I could make one too –

This I say without shame!


You’re opposed to all fashions,

And all empty arts? –

I agree with you and say:

They are indeed – empty vapor!


I’ve often heard you drumming,

With child – and all kinds –

Who could hold it against you,

I praise it anew.


Your heart is pious – I know it!

You’re impatient with evil;

And you serve your God,

Even when you are attacked!


Your heart knows no sorrow,

In its deepest depths;

You sing every evening,

And in the morning hours.


Oh, when I behold you,

Louder beats my heart;

I recall days of childhood,

With such sweet sorrow.


You dear old friend,

I’ve known you such a long time –

No bird is dearer to me,

In all of my fatherland.


We want to celebrate this first week in August with the poetry of our own Gladys S. Martin and that of the late Rev. Dr. Eli Keller, who was active over a century ago. Gladys lives on Glenwood Drive by Effredaa.

Eli Keller, the author of EIN LIED AN DIE AMSEL (A Song To The Robin), was born on December 20, 1825 in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, where his great-grandfather, the pioneer Joseph Keller, had settled. In the spring of 1856, Eli was ordained to the ministry by the Mercersburg Classis of the German Reformed Church. For the next eighteen years, he ministered in English and in German to charges in Ohio, but toward the end of the period, only in English. He yearned for Pennsylvania and in 1874 returned tither. For the next 27 years, he served the Zionsville Parish in Lehigh County. In 1880, Ursinus College conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. In 1901, Keller retired from the ministry and moved into Allentown. On December 20, 1919, he celebrated his 94th birthday. A few days later he died peacefully at his home on Chew Street in Allentown.

Eli Keller’s MONET SPRUECH were printed on pages 71-73 of Daniel Miller’s volume entitled PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN, A Collection of Pennsylvania German Productions in Poetry and Prose. The second edition was printed in Reading in 1904. Preston Barba makes no mention of the MONET SPRUECH in “The Life And Works Of Eli Keller,” which he printed in the Allentown Morning Call on May 20, June 3, 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15 and 22, 1967. Barba does mention Keller’s Pennsylvania German almanac which was published in 1885 in Allentown under the title UNSER PENNSYLFANISCH-DEUTSCH KALENNER FOR 1885. We think it likely that Keller’s MONET SPRUECH were originally written for his Dutch almanac, but we can present no proof of this as yet.

These past weeks and months we have been examining with much delight volumes 3-11 (1869-1877) of DER REFORMIRTE HAUSFREUND, a biweekly newspaper in German published for members of the German Reformed Church. The HAUSFREUND was edited by the Rev. Benj. Bausman, who served the first Reformed Church in Reading. The HAUSFREUND, which continued to appear until 1903, is a gold mine of information on the activities of the German Reformed Churches in the period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century. Eli Keller was a regular contributor. EIN LIED AN DIE AMSEL was printed on the front page of the May 27, 1969 issue of the HAUSFREUND. Since Eli Keller wrote poetry in our MUDDERSCHPROOCH as well as in Standard German, DIE AMSEL will serve as an example of the latter.

August 6, 1986

En Bischli-Gnippli

as Hoch un Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch gleicht