As he trudged along to school,
It was always Johnny's rule
To be looking at the sky
Just look at him! there he stands,
With his nasty hair and hands.
See! his nails are never cut;
They are grimed as black as soot;
As he had often done before,
The woolly-headed Black-a-moor
One nice fine summer's day went out
To see the shops, and walk about;
Here is cruel Frederick, see!
A horrid wicked boy was he;
He caught the flies, poor little things,
And then tore off their tiny wings,
'I pray you now, my little child,'
Thus once a kind old lady
Spoke to her niece in accents mild,
'Do try to be more steady.
Now Minnie was a pretty girl,
Her hair so gracefully did curl;
She had a slender figure, too,
And rosy cheeks, and eyes of blue.
'Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman;
Let me see if he is able
To sit still for once at table:'
This is the man that shoots the hares;
This is the coat he always wears:
With game-bag, powder-horn, and gun
He's going out to have some fun.
Oh! how this Mary loved to eat,-
It was her chief delight;
She would have something, sour or sweet,
To munch from morn till night.
I never saw a girl or boy
So prone as Sophie to destroy
Whate'er she laid her hands upon,
Though tough as wood, or hard as stone;
Augustus was a chubby lad;
Fat, ruddy cheeks Augustus had;
And everybody saw with joy
The plump and heart, healthy boy,
When the rain comes tumbling down
In the country or the town,
All good little girls and boys
Stay at home and mind their toys.
One day Mamma said 'Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don't suck your thumb while I'm away.
'Oh, why are you always so bitterly crying?
You surely will make yourself blind.
What reason on earth for such sobbing and sighing,
I pray, can you possibly find?
When the children have been good,
That is, be it understood,
Good at meal-times, good at play,
Good all night and good all day—
This Phoebe Ann was a very proud girl,
Her nose had always an upward curl.
She thought herself better than all others beside,
And beat even the peacock himself in pride.
Betsy would never wash herself
When from her bed she rose,
But just as quickly as she could
She hurried on her clothes.
'Here, Charlotte,' said Mamma one day.
'These stockings knit while I'm away,
And should you fail, be sure you'll find
Mamma is strict, although she's kind.'
Heinrich Hoffmann was a German psychiatrist, who also wrote some short works including Der Struwwelpeter, an illustrated book portraying children misbehaving. Early Life and Education Hoffmann was born in Frankfurt on Main to an architect father, Philipp Hoffmann, who was responsible for the city's streets and waterways. Hoffmann's mother died when he was a baby. His father later married her sister, Antoinette Lausberg, who was a loving and more than adequate mother to him. Lazy and easily distracted, Hoffmann at first struggled at school, but became a successful student after conforming to the strict discipline imposed by his demanding father. At university in Heidelberg, he immersed himself into the corps student culture. His zest for dueling was small, but owing to his sociability, good humour and wit, Hoffmann soon became the center of many social circles, a pattern that would later repeat itself in his hometown. His progress in his medical studies was slow because of the many distractions. To flee these he left Heidelberg for Halle, where he concentrated on his studies under Professor Peter Krukenberg, the founder of a charity clinic. His first brush with medical practice coincided with a cholera outbreak in Halle. After getting his medical degree, he intended to spend a year in Paris (funded by the Frankfurt Bethmann bank) to improve his knowledge of surgery. But due to the deteriorating health of his father, he had to return home early. Career as a Writer Hoffmann published poems and a satirical comedy before, in 1845, a publisher friend persuaded him to have a collection of illustrated children's verses printed which Hoffmann had done as Christmas present for his son. The book, later called Struwwelpeter after one of its anti-heroes, became popular with the public and had to be reprinted regularly; many foreign translations followed. "Struwwelpeter" was not perceived as cruel or overly moral by Hoffmann's contemporaries. The original title, "Funny stories and droll pictures", indicates that entertainment was at least partly the author's intention. After the book's success, Hoffmann felt persuaded to write other children's books, of which only the first, König Nussknacker oder der arme Reinhold, became popular. He also kept on writing satires and (often comic) poems for adults. His satires show his strong skepticism towards all kinds of ideology and his distaste for religious, philosophical or political bigotry. Even in Germany, he is today largely remembered for his Struwwelpeter. Politics Hoffmann from early on had liberal leanings, meaning he supported German unity under a constitutional monarchy, democratic elections, freedom of the press, and equal rights for all male citizens including Jews (whose emancipation had suffered setbacks in many German states after "liberation" from Napoleonic rule). As a member of the city's legislative assembly he was (according to his own testimony) instrumental in opening the sessions to the public. His sense of equality was such that he founded a club ("Bürgerverein") which expressly invited (male) members of all walks of life, including the uneducated and Jewish citizens. Also, he left his freemason's lodge after antisemitic tendencies took hold there. Seized with patriotic-democratic sentiment during the early days of the German 1848 revolution, he became a member of the Frankfurt preliminary national assembly that prepared the elections, but was soon disillusioned by the divisive and dogmatic, unproductive discussions that followed. Pro-bono public activities Hoffmann, a popular and well-connected figure in his hometown, became an active member of several non-political public bodies during his lifetime. Among them were the administration of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut (Städel Institute of Art) and the Mozart Foundation (who funded Max Bruch, among others). Trivia He wrote under the following names: Polykarpus Gastfenger (The given name is the German version of that of a Christian martyr; the surname sounds like "Gastfänger", which could be translated as "guest-catcher".) Heulalius von Heulenburg Heinrich Hoffmann Heinrich Hoffmann-Donner (The second half of the compound surname is the maiden name of his wife Therese. It would mean "thunder" as a common noun, or a name for the Germanic thunder-god Thor.) Heinrich Kinderlieb (The surname means roughly "child-friendly"/"nice to children") Reimerich Kinderlieb Peter Struwwel (This name reverses the order of the components of "Struwwelpeter".) Zwiebel (As a common noun, this would mean "onion") In Frankfurt there is a Heinrich-Hoffmann-Museum. He is the subject of the historical novel, 98 Reasons for Being. He and his book Der Struwwelpeter is mentioned in The Office episode "Take Your Daughter to Work Day". One of the short stories contained within Der Struwwelpeter, "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" or "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb" is the loose basis for the song "Scissor Man" by the British band XTC. The story involves a little boy whose punishment for sucking his thumbs is getting them cut off by the tailor. The song was more popularly covered by Primus. Struwwelpeter's statue stands in the center of Frankfurt am Main, in Hoffman's honour.)
The Story Of Johnny Head-In-Air
As he trudged along to school,
It was always Johnny's rule
To be looking at the sky
And the clouds that floated by;
But what just before him lay,
In his way,
Johnny never thought about;
So that every one cried out
'Look at little Johnny there,
Little Johnny Head-In-Air!'
Running just in Johnny's way
Came a little dog one day;
Johnny's eyes were still astray
Up on high,
In the sky;
And he never heard them cry
'Johnny, mind, the dog is nigh!'
Down they fell, with such a thump,
Dog and Johnny in a lump!
Once, with head as high as ever,
Johnny walked beside the river.
Johnny watched the swallows trying
Which was cleverest at flying.
Oh! what fun!
Johnny watched the bright round sun
Going in and coming out;
This was all he thought about.
So he strode on, only think!
To the river's very brink,
Where the bank was high and steep,
And the water very deep;
And the fishes, in a row,
Stared to see him coming so.
One step more! oh! sad to tell!
Headlong in poor Johnny fell.
And the fishes, in dismay,
Wagged their tails and swam away.
There lay Johnny on his face,
With his nice red writing-case;
But, as they were passing by,
Two strong men had heard him cry;
And, with sticks, these two strong men
Hooked poor Johnny out again.
Oh! you should have seen him shiver
When they pulled him from the river.
He was in a sorry plight!
Dripping wet, and such a fright!
Wet all over, everywhere,
Clothes, and arms, and face, and hair:
Johnny never will forget
What it is to be so wet.
And the fishes, one, two, three,
Are come back again, you see;
Up they came the moment after,
To enjoy the fun and laughter.
Each popped out his little head,
And, to tease poor Johnny, said
'Silly little Johnny, look,
You have lost your writing-book!'