Nursery Rhyme

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Nursery Rhyme

Post by mariarose » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:13 am

I heard the cutest poem about three birds perching together in winter, and it ends with it saying two birds' names on either side, "and Hans in the middle, none warmer than he".

Anyone know this one and have the rest of the poem? I have searched online and in books for years!!!

Thanks in advance to anyone who can unlock this mystery of the past for me.
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Re: Nursery Rhyme

Post by Phil White » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:11 pm

I think I can solve that one for you.

It is a German poem by the very strange poet Christian Morgenstern (1871 - 1914), who wrote a lot of surreal nonsense poetry with a very sharp, satirical undertone. He is great fun if you read German fluently, but does not translate well.
Die drei Spatzen

In einem leeren Haselstrauch,
da sitzen drei Spatzen, Bauch an Bauch.

Der Erich rechts und links der Franz
und mittendrin der freche Hans.

Sie haben die Augen zu, ganz zu,
und obendrüber, da schneit es, hu!

Sie rücken zusammen dicht an dicht.
So warm wie der Hans hat's niemand nicht.

Sie hör'n alle drei ihrer Herzlein Gepoch.
Und wenn sie nicht weg sind, so sitzen sie noch.
There are a few translations around. This one by Max Knight seems to be the one people know, but it misses the last verse out:
The Three Sparrows

Upon a hazel branch I spied
three little sparrows, side by side.

At left is Erich, at right is Franz,
and smack in the middle is smarty Hans.

Their sleepy eyes they tightly close,
and over their backs it snows and snows.

They snuggle closely together, all three -
but Hans is the warmest, none snugger than he!
The last verse in the German echoes the traditional ending to fairy tales:
Their little hearts beating all three can hear.
And if they're not gone, you'll still find them near.
Ed. In German, fairy tales traditionally end with "Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, so leben sie noch heute" (and if they haven't died, they're still alive today). In English, of course, it is "and they all lived happily ever after".
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

End of topic.
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