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Erhard Hans Josef Lang

(January 8,1957 / Günzburg/Danube Germany)

Wretched Abel (translation)


In the fir forest on the heath there's a hut quite miserable,

and even more miserable life is for the dwellers of the hut.


But, yes, also he has once been rich, been young in his time,

decrepit he now is, eats bread baked of tree bark flour,

his only daughter his happiness & joy.


Late one autumn evening it was, bright fire flaring in the oven.

'What is the commotion there outside?

Who in the night is getting here? '


Through the low door steps into the hut a man, proud in his moves.

From his dress shines gold and from his eyes lustful desire.


'Good evening! ' - 'Peace be in the Lord! '

'What is it that brought the earl into a hut? ' -

'You are poor, I'm bringing help to you

which can remove your wants.'


And pieces of gold he scattered a handful on the table,

and they glittered so wonderful by the shine of the fire.


'And your daughter so beautiful I shall lead into a gorgeous court,

dress her in gold, silk and in costly stones.'

Thus he spake, the gold was glistening,

and that virgin blushing red,

and he fast went over

stroking her cheek by his hand.


But a burning flame flew into the meek eye of the Old Man,

and he got up, and a look full of fire he thrust to the stranger.


'Be gone, daring one! ' so he shouted taking hold of his stick,

'be gone, daring one; off your hands obscene!

Let the maiden be at peace with herself! '

'You have drunk the blood of your people, robbed them of their sweat,

their toil,

and now you still want to bereave a wretched of his honour? '


'This dear one with gold to buy.

Be gone, along you take your gifts!

I have never moved about in shame,

and even now there is no need to do so.'


'If it's the Creator's wish, I may die in my hunger,

but to sell the honour of my child, this, o Lord, this cannot be.'


He sat down and wiped the gold away from him,

as though it got him burnt;

but the stranger, fallen silent, took his means

without a word and sneaked away.


And beaming with joy, the daughter rushed to her father's loving side,

and the fire dwindled into a burning coal slowly dying.


written by Finnish poet

Paavo Cajander

(24.12.1846 - 14.6.1915) and published in Finland's National

Enlightenment Calender in 1882

transl. by Erhard Lang

Submitted: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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Comments about this poem (Wretched Abel (translation) by Erhard Hans Josef Lang )

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  • Diana Van Den Berg (10/3/2013 5:17:00 AM)

    This is a delightful story! I can't comment on the translation, not being able to speak Finnish (or Romani or the Karelian language) , but I can say that it is beautifully told in English. (Report) Reply

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