Though Art Wealthier

Justinus Kerner (1786 – 1862)

The Richest Prince

By Andreas Justinus Kerner
Translated by H. W. Dulcken

All their wealth and vast possessions
Vaunting high in choicest terms,
Sat the German princes feasting
In the knightly hall of Worms.

“Might,” cried the Saxon ruler,
“Are the wealth and power I wield:
In my country’s mountain gorges
Sparkling silver lies concealed.”

“See my land with plenty glowing,”
Quoth the Palsgrave of the Rhine;
“Beauteous harvest in the valleys,
On the mountains noble wine.”

“Spacious towns and wealthy convents,”
Lewis spake, Bavaria’s lord,
“Make my land to yield me treasures
Great as those your fields afford.”

Würtemberg’s beloved monarch
Eberhard the Bearded, cried:
“See my land hath little cities,
‘Mong my hills not metals bide;

“Yet one treasure it hath borne me, –
Sleeping in the woodland free,
I may lay my head in safety
On my lowliest vassal’s knee.”

Then, as with a single utterance,
Cried aloud those princes three:
“Bearded count, thy land hath jewels!
Thou art wealthier far than we!

Der Wanderer in der Sägmühle

by Justinus Kerner (1786 – 1862)

Dort unten in der Mühle
Saß ich in süßer Ruh’
Und sah dem Räderspiele
Und sah den Wassern zu.

Sah zu der blanken Säge,
Es war mir wie ein Traum,
Die bahnte lange Wege
In einen Tannenbaum.

Die Tanne war wie lebend,
In Trauermelodie
Durch alle Fasern bebend
Sang diese Worte sie:

Du kehrst zur rechten Stunde,
O Wanderer, hier ein,
Du bist’s, für den die Wunde
Mir dringt ins Herz hinein!

Du bist’s, für den wird werden,
Wenn kurz gewandert du,
Dies Holz im Schoß der Erden
Ein Schrein zur langen Ruh’.

Vier Bretter sah ich fallen,
Mir ward’s ums Herze schwer,
Ein Wörtlein wollt’ ich lallen,
Da ging das Rad nicht mehr.

Inspired by Kerner’s book,  two Americans, Ruth McEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine, turned his idea into a game and released it in 1896. Like Kerner who saw something mystical in the inkblot process, Stuart and Paine embraced the art form as an act of chaos and imagination or a gobolink; a “ goblin of the ink-bottle.”  Like Kerner, they penned short poems to accompany some of their fanciful creations, but unlike him they did not tend to further decorate the inkblots to accentuate certain features.  I commend both for the playfulness, encouraging young and old to be creative.  I can’t wait to get out the ink bottle and try making a few myself.  Will you create a gobolink and see what comes slinking forth from your subconscious? 

For the inquisitive who are wondering about the reference to Yeddo in the poem below, there are two references that may apply; Yeddo in Japan, which is the mangled English version of Edo and Yeddo, Indiana, an unincorporated rural town.  Your imagination will have to decide which was their inspiration.  Jack London wrote a short story set in Yeddo, Japan but it would have been published after Gobolinks came out.  It would be curious to know if Jack London had a Gobolinks as a child?

Gobolink Symmetry – Denise Gaskins' Let's Play Math

Gobolinks by Ruth McEnery and Albert Paine, 1896.

The Butterfly

by Ruth McEnery and Albert Paine

How gaily flits the Butterfly
. . Across the seas of clover.
How blue the arching summer sky
. . That hangs the country over.

On wings of purple, brown, and gold
. . He drifts across the meadow.
His harmless flight you may behold
. . From Yucatan to Yeddo.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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