Banat Poets & Poetry

Nikolaus Berwanger  Vorm Elternhaus / In front of my parental home

Nikolaus Lenau  Einst und Jetzt / Then and Now

Peter Jung  Nacht auf der Heide / Night on the Heath

Johann Wagner  Ackre / Plowing

Hans Bader  Dei Heimat is jetz do / Your Homeland is Now Here

Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn  Banater Schwabenlied / Song of Banat Swabians

Mihai Eminescu  Mother

Josef Gabriel d. Ä.  's gibt vielerlei Narre! / There are many kinds of fools!


In front of my parental home
          von  Nikolaus Berwanger

I want to say goodbye. Don’t be mad at me! Tomorrow I’m leaving, but my soul remains; I buried it here for all times.

I don’t know what awaits me, I have never crossed the border before. I am hoping for the best; one keeps hoping, for as long as one lives.

Perhaps I will build a new house for myself, over there, who would know that now. I feel so lost, I am suddenly so lonely. I will never forget you, that is as certain as the night following the day. You witnessed my laughter and saw my tears running, you lived through all that I had to live through. Life was often hard with me, much too hard …

You’re staying but you cannot say anything … All your rooms now stand empty, only the old stained picture of Christ hangs on one wall. It belonged to grandmother, I let it stay. The summer kitchen is also empty. I left only a little stool standing in the corner, next to the place where the heard once stood. There I always liked to sit, it was my place. …

At the cemetery, I had everything fixed. I had them place concrete covers on all our graves, I had them write all the names with golden letters. Perhaps there will be people that now and then will place fresh flowers on the cold concrete.

On All Saints Day, that I promised myself, I want to come back every year. For how long, I do not know, but if I come, my first steps will be to you. From across, from the corner, I will say to you "Good Day!", and then I will leave again.

I want to say goodbye. Don’t be mad at me, tomorrow I am leaving, I am leaving for good. But my soul remains here; I buried it here for all times.

Vorm Elternhaus
       Translated by Nick Tullius, Ottawa, 2010/03/31

Ich meecht mich verabschiede. Sei mir net bes! Morje fahr ich, mei Seel awer, die bleibt, die hann ich do begrawe, for alli Zeite.

Ich weeß net, was mich warte tut, ich war noch nie iwer die Grenz. Ich hoff awer es beschti, de Mensch hofft halt, so lang wie er lebt.

Vielleicht bau ich mir e neies Haus, dort driwe, wer kann des jetz wisse. Ich kumm mir awer so verlor vor, so alleenich sinn ich uf eemol. Dich werr ich nie vergesse, des is so sicher wie nohm Tach die Nacht. Du hascht mei Lache miterlebt un mei Träne rinne gsiehn, du hascht alles mitgemach, was aach ich mitgemach hann. Es Lewe war oft hart mit mir, viel zu hart ...

Du bleibscht un kannscht nicks saan. ... Alli Zimmer sinn jetz leer, nor an eene Wand hängt des alti fleckichi Christusbild. Es stammt noch vun de Großmotter, ich loß es hänge. Aach die Summerkuchl is leer. Nor en Hockl hann ich stehn geloß dort im Eck, gleich newer dem Platz, wu mol de Sparherd gstann war. Dort hann ich immer so geere gsitzt, dort war mei Platz. ...

Ufm Friedhof hann ich alles gereglt. Uf alli unser Gräwer hann ich Betondeckle mache geloß, die Name hann ich mit Goldbuchstawe schreiwe geloß. Vielleicht get’s doch noch Leit, die wu hie un do e frischi Blum uf den kalti Beton leje.

An Allerheiliche, so hann ich mir’s fescht vorghol, mecht ich jedes Johr kumme. Wie lang, des weeß ich net, awer wann ich kumm, dann is mei erschte Wech zu dir. Vun driwe, vum Eck, werr ich dir Guntach! zurufe, un dann widder gehe.

Ich mecht mich verabschiede. Sei mir net bes, morje fahr ich, for immer fahr ich. Mei Seel awer, die bleibt, die hann ich do begrawe for alli Zeite. (Berwanger 1982: 85-93)

Einst und Jetzt (gekürzt)

Then and Now (abbreviated)

von Nikolaus Lenau
translated by Nick Tullius

”Möchte wieder in die Gegend,
Wo ich einst so selig war,
Wo ich lebte, wo ich träumte
Meiner Jugend schönstes Jahr!”

Also sehnt‘ ich in der Ferne
Nach der Heimat mich zurück,
Wähnend, in der alten Gegend
Finde ich das alte Glück.

Endlich war mir nun beschieden
Wiederkehr ins traute Tal;
Doch es ist dem Heimgekehrten
Nicht zu Mut wie dazumal.

Mögen deine Grüße rauschen
Vom Gestein, du trauter Bach;
Doch der Freund ist mir verloren,
Der in dein Gemurmel sprach.

  “How I wish I could go back there,
  Where such happiness was mine,
  Where I lived and where I dreamt through
  My youth’s year the most divine!”

  While away I felt the longing
  To return to the homeland,
  The old bliss, I kept on hoping,
  Would still be there close at hand.

  Finally good fate and fortune
  Brought me to that vale again;
  But I found upon returning
  That my hope had been in vain.

  The old brook was there to greet me
  Bouncing sounds from rocks around;
  But my good friend’s voice was missing,
  From the rhapsody of sound.


Nacht auf der Heide Night on the Heath
von Peter Jung
translated by Nick Tullius
Die Heide schlief. Ein Blauer Traum
War auf sie ausgegossen.
Der Mond stand hoch im Himmelsraum,
Und weit bis an der Erde Saum
Ist weich sein Glanz geflossen.

Ein Vogel rief. Es war ein Schrei
Voll Sehnen und Verlangen;
Er klang an Busch und Baum vorbei,

Riss jäh der Stille Flor entzwei,
Der sanft mich hielt umfangen.

Die Nacht war tief. Es roch die Luft
Nach reifendem Getreide;
Sie Trug der Blüten süßen Duft

Nach fernen Bergen, Tal und Kluft
Von der Banater Heide.
The heath’s asleep. A deep blue dream
Was softly spread across it.
The moon high in the sky stood still
And far away to the world’s seam
Sent his soft lustre flowing.

A bird just called. It was a cry
Of yearning and of longing;
Its sound went around shrub and tree,
Abruptly split the silent glee,
That sofltly had embraced me.

The night was deep. Fragrant the air,
Of ripening golden wheatfields;
It carried the sweet flowers’ scent

To far mountains, valleys, canyons,
From the Heath of the Banat.

Translator’s Note:  Peter Jung (1887 – 1966) lived and published in Hatzfeld (Banat). Perhaps his most well-known poem is “Mein Heimatland” (My Homeland) which was set to music and became part of the Danube-Swabian choral repertoire. NT

Ackre Plowing
von Johann Wagner (*1870)
translated by Nick Tullius
De Hans is g'storb, sei armi Seel'
is schun im Himmel drowe,
Denn, weil er gar so wackrich war,
Derf sie beim Herrgott throne.

Seit Wuche huckt sie schun beim Thron
un werd allmählich kränkr;
De liewe Herrgott gsieht's un saat:
"Kumm, Hans, ich wer dir helfe.

Ich kanns net dulde, daß d' bei mir
dich tuscht vermaltretiere;
Geh hin wu D' willscht un wus dir g'fallt,
kannscht ruhich rumloschiere."

De Hans hat sich no ufgemacht,
im Himmel zu spaziere;
Doch 's  hat net g'holf, er is bald gang
zum Herrgott appeliere.

Er saat: "Gottvat'r ! Hör' mich an!
Ich bin 's gewohnt, des Rackre,
Ich han de Plug am liebschte g'hat;
loßt mich im Himmel ackre!"

De Herrgott lacht un saat zum Hans:
"ich loß dir gere dei Wille,
Do hascht a Plug aus purem Gold,
tu jetz dei Wunsch erfülle."

De glücklischte is im Himmel jetz
de Hans, ganz ohne Sorche,
Bei Sterneglanz und Vogelsang
zieht 'r mit 'm Plug die Furche.

Un sterbt a Schwob, do han die Schmied'
im Himmel nichts zu lache,
Sie misse glei uf Gott's Befehl,
a Plug aus Gold mache.

Un alles kennt im Himmel glei
die Schwowe, wie sie ackre...
Wie sie in alli Ewichkeit
mit Luscht sich tun abrackre.
Our Hans has died and his poor soul
Is already in heaven,
And since he was so good on earth,
It's sitting there, right next to God.

For weeks it has been sitting there,
And looking more and more unhappy;
God Father notices and says:
"Come here, Hans, let me help you.

I cannot stand it, if here with me
you're punishing yourself;
Go forth wherever you may wish,
And stay wherever you are happy."

So Hans got up and walked away,
And looked around in heaven;
It did not help, and soon he's back
With a request for Father.

He says: "God Father! Please now listen!
I'm used to work,
I liked my plow the best,
Please let me plow in heaven!"

And laughing loud God says to Hans:
"I'm glad to grant your wishes,
Here is a plow, it's made of gold,
Go plow so that you're happy."

Our Hans is now a happy soul,
Completely free of sorrows,
As starlight glows and birds are singing,
With his plow he draws deep furrows.

And when on earth a Schwob is dying,
The blacksmiths work in heaven,
To make a plow out of pure gold,
Because God has so commanded.

All souls in heaven know
The Schwobs and how they plow.
And how in all eternity
They're glad to keep on plowing.

Dei Heimat is jetz do Your Homeland is Now Here
von Hans Bader
translated by Nick Tullius

E Lewe lang hascht du geackert,
dich geploot, dei Feld bebaut,
taachaus, taachein dich abgerackert
un dich em Herrgott anvertraut,

hascht nie geklaat, gezweifelt nie,
die Hoffnung, nie de Mut verlor.
Warscht stolz uf dei Banat, un wie!
Un deiner Heimat ganz verschwor!

Dann hat mer dich uf Rußland g`schickt,
weilscht Deitscher warscht. Dei Hof, dei Haus
hat druf en anre bal beglickt.
Mit deim Banat war`s gschwind dann aus!

Dei Weib, im Baragan is es geblieb!
Dei Sohn, die Flucht is`m gelung alleen!
Dich hat als Schwob mer dann vertrieb!
Du hascht geglaabt dei Herz bleibt stehn!

Mit Schmiergeld bischt uf Deitschland kumm,
mit leeri Hend un doch warscht froh!
Dei schenschti Johre sin aa rum;
Ee Troscht: Dei Heimat is jetz do!

Your whole life long you plowed,
worked hard to till your fields,
day in, day out you slaved
and in your God you trusted,

you never complained, never had doubts,
never lost hope, nor courage.
How proud you were of your Banat!
How dedicated to your homeland!

They sent you then to Russia,
just for being German. Your farm, your house,
soon made another happy.
Your Banat was ending fast!

Your wife rests in the Baragan!
Your son alone escaped!
A Swabian - they expelled you!
You thought your heart would break!

Bribes got you to Germany,
With empty hands, but cheerful!
Your best years are well behind you;
Be happy: your homeland is now here!

Banater Schwabenlied Song of Banat Swabians
von Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn
translated by Nick Tullius
Es brennt ein Weh, wie Kindertränen brennen,
wenn Elternherzen hart und stiefgesinnt.
O, daß vom Mutterland uns Welten trennen
und wir dem Vaterland nur Fremde sind.

Von deutscher Erde sind wir abgeglitten
auf diese Insel weit im Weltenmeer.
Doch wo des Schwaben Pflug das Land durchschnitten,
wird deutsch die Erde, und er weicht nicht mehr.

O Heimat, deutschen Schweißes stolze Blüte,
du Zeugin mancher herben Väternot,
wir segnen dich, auf daß dich Gott behüte,
wir stehn getreu zu dir in Not und Tod!

There burns a hurt, like tears of children crying,
When parents’ hearts are like they’re made of stone.
That from our motherland the worlds do part us
And we’re called strangers in our fatherland.

From German soil our ancestors departed
To this small island in the global sea.
But where a Swabian’s plough the land made fertile,
The soil is German, and he will not leave.

O homeland, proudest bloom of German effort,
You witness of our fathers’ hardy deeds,
We bless you so that God may keep you,
We stand in faith with you in life and death!

Translator’s Note: Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn (1852 – 1923) worked for many years as a theater director and writer in Vienna. He was in the forefront of the struggle against the assimilation of the Danube Swabians into the Hungarian ethnic culture, and for the preservation of the German cultural life in the Banat, becoming the speaker and poet of the Danube Swabians. In the poem, ‘motherland’ refers to Germany; ‘fatherland’ refers to Hungary. Many proponents of an ethnic Hungarian identity referred to German-speaking Banaters as ‘foreigners’. As used in the poem, both ‘German’ and ‘Swabian’ refer to Banat Swabians or Danube Swabians in general. – N. Tullius

O, mama

by Mihai Eminescu

O, mamă, dulce mamă, din negură de vremi

Pe freamătul de frunze la tine tu mă chemi;

Deasupra criptei negre a sfântului mormânt

Se scutură salcâmii de toamnă şi de vânt,

Se bat încet din ramuri, îngână glasul tău …

Mereu se vor tot bate, tu vei dormi mereu.


Când voi muri, iubito, la creştet să nu-mi plângi:

Din teiul sfânt şi dulce o ramură  să frângi,

La capul meu cu grijă tu ramura s-o-ngropi,

Asupra ei să cadă a ochilor tăi stropi;

Simţi-o-voi odată umbrind mormântul meu …

Mereu va creşte umbra-i, eu voi dormi mereu.


Iar dacă împreună va fi ca să murim,

Să nu ne ducă-n triste ziduri de ţintirim,

Mormântul să ni-l sape la margine de râu,

Ne pună-n încăperea aceluiaşi sicriu;

De-a pururi aproape vei fi de sânul meu …

Mereu va plânge apa, noi vom dormi mereu.


by Mihai Eminescu
translated by Nick Tullius

O mother, dearest mother, through rustling leaves of fall
Through fogs of bygone decades, I clearly hear your call;
Above your crypt of marble, so sacred and so black
The fall winds sway the willows, now forward and now back,
Their branches keep on rustling, as if your voice would weep.
Forever sway the willows, forever you must sleep.
When I shall die, my sweetheart, don't spill tears over me;
Break off a branch from that sweet-lime tree,
Plant at my headstone it without any fears,
And water slowly with all your heart's tears;
I'll feel its gentle shadows that over my grave sweep.
Forever grow the shadows, forever I must sleep.
And if by chance together our fate will be to die,
In no sombre graveyard should they make us lie,
A grave they'd better dig us, next to the river wide,
Together in a coffin place us side by side;
Heart-to-heart we'll lay there, a rest so long and deep.
Forever cry the waters, forever we must sleep.

's gibt vielerlei Narre! There are many kinds of fools!
von Josef Gabriel d. Ä.
translated by Nick Tullius
Ich well Euch Leit uf dere Welt
Ke Menschekind verachte,
Nor Narre gebt es mancherlei,
Wann mr's tut gnau betrachte.
Der een is geizich, hängt am Geld,
Versperrt's un hiits em Kaschte,
Gunnt sich drvun ke Troppe Wein
Un tut sich mager faschte.
Manch anrer wieder lebt zu leicht,
Ke Kummer macht ihms Borche,
Un wieder eener werd fruh alt,
Griet grooi Hoor von Sorche.
Dort laaft der een de Haase noch,
Do zittert eene uf Karte,
Manch anner sucht bei Weibsleit Freed,
Werd närrisch uf solchi Arte.
Ich well jo jedi Närrschkeit net,
Die noch vorkummt, vergleiche
Un oftmals macht de bravschte Mann
Mitunner dummi Streiche.
Es losst am allerbeschte Mensch
Zuletscht sich was bemängle,
Drom welle mr ger Ricksicht han,
Em Himmel gebts nor Engle.
Of all the people in this world
No one we should look down on,
But fools – there are just so many
Don’t say you’re not aware of any.
One is tight, his god is money,
Locked up and guarded in his safe,
Does not enjoy a drop of wine,
Fasting has bent his spine.
The other lives on easy street,
Not worried if he borrows,
And still another ages fast,
Gets grey hair from sorrows past.
One likes only hunting rabbits,
Another one must play his cards,
A third just chases skirts all day,
His foolishness erupts this way.
Much silliness just happens
We should never quickly judge it,
And know that very clever men
May act foolish now and then.
Even the very best of men
May have his little weakness,
Forgive, and you won’t be lonely,
Angels are in heaven only.

Josef Gabriel (1853-1927) was born in the German village of Mercydorf (Banat), where he also attended elementary school. From an early age, he helped his parents with the farm work. He continued to study the German language on his own and published his first poems at the age of 21. He continued farming and writing throughout his life. He married three times and had nine children. Josef Gabriel sen. was greatly respected by the people of Mercydorf and reviled by the Hungarian-educated village elite as a "Pan-Germanist".  

Village Coordinator: Nick Tullius

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Last updated: 26 Aug 2020