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Hoffmann, Heinrich: The History of Hans Stare-in-the-Air (Die Geschichte vom Hanns Guck-in-die-Luft in English)

Portre of Hoffmann, Heinrich
Portre of Twain, Mark

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Die Geschichte vom Hanns Guck-in-die-Luft (German)

Wenn der Hanns zur Schule ging,

stets sein Blick am Himmel hing.

Nach den Dächern, Wolken, Schwalben

schaut er aufwärts allenthalben.

Vor die eignen Füße dicht,

ja, da sah der Bursche nicht,

also daß ein jeder ruft:

»Seht den Hanns Guck-in-die-Luft!«


Kam ein Hund daher gerannt;

Hännslein blickte unverwandt

in die Luft.

Niemand ruft:

»Hanns! gib acht, der Hund ist nah!«

Was geschah?

Bauz, perdauz! – da liegen zwei,

Hund und Hännschen nebenbei.


Einst ging er an Ufers Rand

mit der Mappe in der Hand.

Nach dem blauen Himmel hoch

sah er, wo die Schwalbe flog,

also daß er kerzengrad

immer mehr zum Flusse trat.

Und die Fischlein in der Reih

sind erstaunt sehr, alle drei.


Noch ein Schritt! und plumps! der Hanns

stürzt hinab kopfüber ganz! –

Die drei Fischlein, sehr erschreckt,

haben sich sogleich versteckt.

Doch zum Glück da kommen zwei

Männer aus der Näh herbei,

und die haben ihn mit Stangen

aus dem Wasser aufgefangen.


Seht! nun steht der triefend naß!

Ei, das ist ein schlechter Spaß!

Wasser läuft dem armen Wicht

aus den Haaren ins Gesicht,

aus den Kleidern, von den Armen,

und es friert ihn zum Erbarmen.

Doch die Fischlein alle drei,

schwimmen hurtig gleich herbei;

streckens Köpflein aus der Flut,

lachen, daß man’s hören tut,

lachen fort noch lange Zeit.

Und die Mappe schwimmt schon weit.

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The History of Hans Stare-in-the-Air (English)

Now when this lad to school did go,

He never saw what's here below;

His eyes were always in the sky,

'mong roofs and clouds and things that fly;

He never saw, along the street,

The common things about his feet,

So people used to cry, "Ah, there!

That is Hans Stare-in-the-Air!"


There came a dog a-tearing by,

Hans was gawking at the sky

Just as ca'm

As a ham —

No one warned him with a yell.

What befell?

What! Ker-blim! and down they go —

Boy and doglet in a row!


Once he snooped along the strand

With his atlas in the hand,

And his pug-nose tilted back

So he could watch the swallow's track;

and never got it through his gourd

That he was walking overboard,

although the fishes, frightened, shout,

"We are orphans, please look out!"


Another step — another yet —

And finds himself amazing wet!

The fishy orphans, scared full sore

Turned tail and travel for the shore.

Now by luck two men arrive,

And with their hooks and sticks contrive

The struggling dunderhead to hive,

and soon they fish him out alive.


Stands he now, the dripping bloke,

And sees no humour in the joke;

Water streams from hair and clothes,

And flows in rivers down his nose;

He's water-soaked from head to heels,

But can't express half what he feels.

Those little fish go swimming by

And up at him they cock their eye,

And stick their heads out full aspan,

And laughs as only fishes can;

Laugh and giggle, jeer and snort —

How strange to see them thus cavort!

Meantime the atlas, gone astray,

Has drifted many yards away.

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