Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

Es Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch Eck

(Originally published in the March 30, 1983 issue of
The Shopping News)

By Russell W. Gilbert

Bei uns daheem,

Wu waxe Beem

Schier himmelschoch,

Mer schtrewe nooch.


Im Summergrie

Mer biege Gnie

Uff sanfder Grund

Un bede gsund.


Wann Winder kummt

Un’s Grie verschtummt,

Watt laut mei Mund

In Goddesbund.


Im Hatz ken Angscht

Weil Gott Du langscht

Mer Lewesbrot

In greeschder Not.


Mit Oschdre siegt

Wer Mensch mol wiegt,

Der Schtee rollt weck,

Fatt Dodesschreck.


O scheener Daag,

Uns Schuld veryaag!

O liewi Zeit,

Bring Freed uns heit!

Oschdre, 18. April 1976



At our home,

where trees nearly

reach the heavens,

we strive upward.


In summer’s green

we bend our knees

upon gentle soil

and offer sound prayers.


When winter comes

and the green turns silent,

my lips speak

in God’s covenant.


No fear in the heart,

because you God hand me

the bread of life

in greatest need.


With Easter He who will

some day judge (“weigh”)

mankind conquers;

the sone rolls away,

gone the terror of death.


O beautiful day,

cast out our guilt!

O lovely season,

Bring us joy today!


In this holy week (die Karwoch) between Palm-sunndaag (Palm Sunday) and Oschdersunndaag (Easter Sunday), it is most appropriate that we read together a masterful poem in Dutch by Dr. Russell W. Gilbert, emeritus professor of German at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove in Snyder County.

Some of you will probably need the English translation to help you through parts of the poem, but the effort is well worth the satisfaction! This is not everyday Pennsylvania Dutch; this is the dialect raised to a poetic level. Read the verses aloud slowly and majestically and savor the effect.

In his translation (given above), Dr. Gilbert points out that the words “verschtummt” and “Mund” are rare in the dialect. Those of you who know the dialect well will recall that “die Engschde” (fears) is the plural of “die Angscht” (fear), which is used less frequently. Professor Gilbert also mentions the fact that the form “siecht” would be used more frequently than “siegt,” which appears in the poem.

Are we not fortunate to have in this 300th anniversary year in our midst a poet, en Dichder, of the stature of Russell W. Gilbert! He has enriched our Easter season with his poetic gifts.

No more beautiful words have been written in the dialect that these: “Im Hatz ken Angscht, weil Gott Du langscht Mir Lewesbrot in greeschder Not.”

March 30, 1983

Es Bischli-Gnippli