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“When Jenny Wren Was Young”
Shakespeare, Burns und Wordsworth: Gedichte und andere Zaunkönig-Fundstellen in der englischsprachigen Literatur
zusammengestellt von Helge May
Der Zaunkönig ist ein weit verbreiteter Vogel, kein Wunder also, dass er nicht nur bei Äsop und in Grimmschen Märchen, sondern auch in der englischsprachigen Literatur vorkommt. "Schlag nach bei Shakespeare, denn da steht was drin", heißt es im Musical "Kiss me, Kate". Und tatsächlich, selbst wenn man nach dem Jahresvogel 2004 sucht, wird man in Shakespeares Dramen gleich mehrfach fündig; meist dient der kleine Zaunkönig ("wren") dabei als Kontrapunkt zu größerem Getier. Hier die Beispiele:
Der spätere König Richard III. klagt in der dritten Szene des gleichnamigen Königsdramas: "The world is grown so bad, That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch."
Lady Macduff im vierten Akt von Macbeth, in völliger Verkennung von dessen wahren Motiven die Flucht ihres Mannes als Feigheit verdammend: "For the poor wren (The most diminutive of birds) will fight, Her young ones in her nest, against the owl." In der deutschen Fassung liest man wahlweise "Bekämpft der schwache Zaunkönig, das kleinste Vöglein, die Eule doch für seine Brut im Nest" (Tiecksche Übersetzung) oder "Der arme Zaunkönig sogar, der allerkleinste unter den Vögeln, hat Muth, wenn seine Jungen im Nest sind, gegen die Eule zu kämpfen" (Wielandsche Übersetzung).
Meister Zettel (der mit dem Eselskopf
) betört im dritten Akt des Sommernachtstraums die zu diesem Zeitpunkt zauberbedingt in ihren Wahrnehmungen schwer verwirrte Elfenkönigin Titania mit folgendem Gesang: "The woosel cock so black of hue, With orange-tawny bill, The throstle with his note so true, The wren with little quill - ... The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The plain-song cuckoo grey, Whose note full many a man doth mark, And dares not answer nay."
Im "Kaufmann von Venedig" schließlich weiß die schöne Portia den Gesang des Zaunkönig offensichtlich nicht recht zu würdigen. Im fünften Akt meint sie: "The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark When neither is attended; and I think The nightingale, if she should sing by day When every goose is cackling, would be thought No better a musician than the wren. How many thing by season seasoned are To their right praise and true perfection!"
Doch Shakespeare steht nicht alleine. Von Kinderversen bis hin zu Dichterfürsten wie Wendsworth und Robert Burns hat "Jenny Wren" in der englischen und amerkanischen Literatur zahlreiche weitere prominente Auftritte. Ein Klick auf den hinterlegten Titel führt jeweils direkt zur Geschichte oder zum Gedicht:
A Land Dirge, Gedicht von John Webster (1580-1632)
The Wren"s Nest, Gedichtfragment von Robert Burns (1759-1796)
A Wren's Nest, Gedicht von William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
There Was an Old Man with a Beard, Nonsensgedicht von Edward Lear (1812-1888)
For every Bird a Nest, Gedicht von Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
No Communication, Gedicht von Mark van Doren (1894-1972)
Wren on a Low Bush, Haiku von Masako Takahashi
When Jenny Wren Was Young, ein alter Kinderreim
The Marriage of Robin Redbreast and the Wren, Kindererzählung von Robert Burns
Robin Redbreast's Christmas Song, schottische Volkssage
A Land Dirge
Call for the Robin Redbreast and the Wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover,
And with leaves and flowers do cover
The friendless bodies of unburied men.
Call unto his funeral Dole
The Ante, the field-mouse, and the mole
To rear him hillocks, that shall keep him warm,
And (when gay tombs are robb'd) sustain no harm,
But keep the wolf far thence, that's foe to men,
For with his nails he'll dig them up again.
John Webster, englischer Dichter (1580-1632)
The Wren"s Nest (Fragment)
The Robin to the Wren's nest
Cam keekin" in, cam keekin" in;
O weel"s me on your auld pow,
Wad ye be in, wad ye be in?
Thou"s ne"er get leave to lie without,
And I within, and I within,
Sae lang"s I hae an auld clout
To rowe ye in, to rowe ye in.
Robert Burns, schottischer Nationaldichter (1759-1796)
A Wren's Nest
Among the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren's
In snugness may compare.
No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.
So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.
And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.
These find, 'mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.
There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long.
Or in sequestered lanes they build,
Where, till the flitting bird's return,
Her eggs within the nest repose,
Like relics in an urn.
But still, where general choice is good,
There is a better and a best;
And, among fairest objects, some
Are fairer than the rest;
This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where, from out
The forehead of a pollard oak,
The leafy antlers sprout;
For She who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,
Had to a Primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfill.
High on the trunk's projecting brow,
And fixed an infant's span above
The budding flowers, peeped forth the nest
The prettiest of the grove!
The treasure proudly did I show
To some whose minds without disdain
Can turn to little things; but once
Looked up for it in vain:
'Tis gone - a ruthless spoiler's prey,
Who heeds not beauty, love, or song,
'Tis gone! (so seemed it) and we grieved
Indignant at the wrong.
Just three days after, passing by
In clearer light the moss-built cell
I saw, espied its shaded mouth;
And felt that all was well.
The Primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus, for purposes benign,
A simple flower deceives.
Concealed from friends who might disturb
Thy quiet with no ill intent,
Secure from evil eyes and hands
On barbarous plunder bent,
Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,
Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love.
William Wordsworth, englischer Dichter (1770-1850)
There Was an Old Man with a Beard
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!-
Two Owls and a Hen,
four Larks and a Wren,
Have all build their nests in my beard!"
Edward Lear, amerikanischer Dichter und Maler (1812-1888)
For every Bird a Nest
For every Bird a Nest -
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round -
Wherefore when boughs are free -
Households in every tree -
Pilgrim be found?
Perhaps a home too high -
The little Wren desires -
Perhaps of twig so fine -
Of twine e'en superfine,
Her pride aspires -
The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house -
Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?
Emily Dickinson, amerikanische Dichterin (1830-1886)
The wren that rages when I sit
Too close to this crabapple tree
Cannot be told, for all her wit,
I hung the gourd she gaurds from me.
Mark van Doren, amerikanischer Dichter und Kritiker (1894-1972)
When Jenny Wren Was Young
'Twas once upon a time, when Jenny Wren was young,
So daintily she danced and so prettily she sung,
Robin Redbreast lost his heart, for he was a gallant bird;
So he doffed his hat to Jenny Wren, requesting to be heard.
O, dearest Jenny Wren, if you will but be mine,
You shall feed on cherry-pie and drink new currant wine,
I'll dress you like a goldfinch or any peacock gay;
So, dearest Jen, if you'll be mine, let us appoint the day.
Jenny blushed behind her fan and thus declared her mind:
Since, dearest Bob, I love you well, I take your offer kind;
Cherry-pie is very nice and so is currant wine,
But I must wear my plain brown gown and never go too fine.
The Marriage of Robin Redbreast and the Wren
There was an auld gray Poussie Baudrons and she gaed awa' down by a water-side, and there she saw a wee Robin Redbreast happin' on a brier; and Poussie Baudrons says: "Where's tu gaun, wee Robin?" And wee Robin says: "I'm gaun awa' to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning." And Poussie Baudrons says: "Come here, wee Robin, and I'll let you see a bonny white ring round my neck." But wee Robin says: "Na, na! gray Poussie Baudrons; na, na! Ye worry't the wee mousie; but ye'se no worry me."
So wee Robin flew awa' till he came to a fail fauld-dike, and there he saw a gray greedy gled sitting. And gray greedy gled says: "Where's tu gaun, wee Robin?" And wee Robin says: "I'm gaun awa' to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning." And gray greedy gled says: "Come here, wee Robin, and I'll let ye see a bonny feather in my wing." But wee Robin says: "Na, na! gray greedy gled; na, na! ye pookit a' the wee lintie; but ye'se no pook me."
So wee Robin flew awa' till he came to the cleuch o' a craig, and there he saw slee Tod Lowriesitting. And slee Tod Lowrie says: "Where's tu gaun, wee Robin? And wee Robin says: "I'm gaun awa' to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning." And slee Tod Lowrie says: "Come here, wee Robin, and I'll let ye see a bonny spot on the tap o' my tail." But wee Robin says: "Na, na! slee Tod Lowrie; na, na! Ye worry't the wee lammie; but ye'se no worry me."
So wee Robin flew awa' till he came to a bonny burnside, and there he saw a wee callant sitting. And the wee callant says: "Where's tu gaun, wee Robin?" And wee Robin says: "I'm gaun awa' to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning." An the wee callant says: "Come here, wee Robin, and I'll gie' ye a wheen grand moolins out o' my pooch." But wee Robin says: "Na, na! wee callant; na, na! Ye speldert the gowdspink; but ye'se no spelder me."
So wee Robin flew awa' till he came to the king, and there he sat on a winnock sole and sang the king a bonny sang. And the king says to the queen: "What'll we gie to wee Robin for singing us this bonny sang?" And the queen says to the king: "I think we'll gie him the wee wran to be his wife."
So wee Robin and the wee wran were married, and the king and the queen and a' the court danced at the waddin'; syne he flew awa' hame to his ain water-side and happit on a brier.
Gutenachtgeschichte, wie sie der schottische Nationaldichter Robert Burns (1759-1796) seinen jüngeren Geschwister erzählte; aufgeschrieben von Burns" Schwester.
Robin Redbreast's Christmas Song - a Scotch Folk Tale
There was once an old gray Cat, who went for a walk one Christmas morning to see what she could see. As she was walking by a small lake, she saw a Robin hopping about on a branch.
"Good morning, Robin Redbreast," she said, "Where are you going on this cold and frosty morning?" "I'm going to the King," answered the Robin, "to sing him a Christmas Song." "Oh, but wait before you go," said the Cat. "Hop down to me a minute and I'll show you the beautiful white ring around my neck." But Robin looked down on Cat and saw an evil look in his eye. "Ha! ha! gray Cat." He said, "You can't trick me. I saw you show your white ring to the little gray mouse and you ate him! I'm not coming down to you! I'm flying straight on to the King!
So he spread his wings and flew away. He flew, and he flew, and he flew, till he came to a fence. There sat a greedy old Hawk who was looking about for his breakfast. "Good morning, Robin Redbreast," cried the greedy old Hawk, "where are you going on this cold and frosty morning?" "I'm going to the King," answered the wee Robin, "to sing him a Christmas Song." "Oh, but wait before you go," said the greedy old Hawk, come close and see my magic green feather. But the wee Robin did not like the look in the eye of the greedy old Hawk. Ha! ha! old Hawk," he said, "I saw you peck at the tiny birds, and you'll not peck at me. I'm going straight on to the King!"
So he spread his wings and flew away. He flew, and he flew, and he flew, till he came to a hillside where he saw a sly old fox looking out of his hole. "Good morning, Robin Redbreast," said the sly old Fox. "Where are you going on this cold and frosty morning?" "I'm going to the King," answered the wee Robin, "to sing him a Christmas Song." "Oh, but wait before you go, said the sly old Fox, "let me show you the black spot I have on the end of my tail." Ha! ha! sly Fox," said the Robin, "I saw chase a small lamb, I'm not interested in the spot on you tail. I'm going straight on to the King."
So the Robin Flew away once more, and never rested till he came to a rosy-cheeked boy, who sat on a log and eating a big piece of bread and butter. The tired Robin sat on a high branch and watched boy. "Good morning, Robin Redbreast," said the boy. "Where are you going on this cold and frosty morning?" "I'm going to sing a Christmas Song to the King," answered the Robin. "Come a bit nearer," said the boy, "and I'll give you some crumbs from my bread." "No way rosy-cheeked boy," I saw you catch a goldfinch with your crumbs. I am not interested in your crumbs. I'm flying straight on to the King." So, no matter who begged him to stop and wait the Robin flew straight on to the King. And he lit on the window-sill of the palace. There he sat and sang the sweetest Christmas song he knew. He was so happy because it was Christmas Time that he wanted the whole wide world to be as happy as he. And he sang, and he sang, and he sang.
The King and Queen sat at the window, and they were so pleased with his joyful song that they asked each other what they could do to pay him for his loving thought in coming so far to sing to them. "I know what we can do," said the Queen, "we can find him a friend," Then the King clapped his hands and asked his servants to find a friend for Robin Redbreast. One servant knew a bird named Jenny Wren who lived in the kitchen courtyard. "Bring her to me," said the King. Jenny Wren and Robin Redbreast, when introduced, liked each other very much. They sat side by side on the window-sill, and they sang, and they sang. And they sang on that merry Christmas morning and many Christmas mornings there after.