Green are the leaves that grow between birds Outside my window, playing hide and seek with the sky. And green are the last of my vineyard’s hopes too, Among rusty leaves, the last of a summer of grapes.
Green are my thoughts, the ones you see through my eyes – Is my soul green? I surely hope it still is. And green are the thoughts I keep in my heart, For they are not ripe-green yet.
For green is good, I think, As long as aplenty green things there are. The singular green frightens me, envious and cold, Therefore green is good in a bunch.
For green were the seas of my childhood tales Of maidens who could and princes who dared, a tad. And green were my teen years, When I thought I could do it all, like them.
Green are the spines on my bookshelves now, And a magic green pencil lays on my desk For the times inspiration fails me, I pick it and its energy handwrites me new tales.
Green are my hopes that end one more decade, And I think that’s pretty cool too. For green speaks of more springs to come, Of harvests of hopes, and a future in green.
If you enjoyed ‘Green Are… Poem and Photography from my Garden’ you might also like to read:
Tracing the history of name Furstenberg I discovered some coins, perhaps part of a treasure found in a castle, as well as porcelain fit for a King residing on a Parisian Street.
First there was the Fürstenberg castle
Fürstenberg Castle was a medieval fortress located on Fürstenberg hill, in Baden-Württemberg region of south-west Germany, near the source of the Danube river.
The name actually means Prince Mountain, or Prince of the Mountain.
The castle was first mentioned in a deed of 1175. Around 1250 Count Henry of Urach (a land nearby) made it his residence and was the first to call himself a Count of Fürstenberg.
Sadly, the original castle was devastated during the Thirty Years’ War (at the beginning of the 17th century) and never rebuilt. But the Fürstenberg county and the Fürstenberg clan survived history.
Over the years, as it often happened with any big family, holdings were partitioned between different branches of the clan, then unified again as family lines went extinct. One such memorable member was Count Henry VII von Fürstenberg-Fürstenbergmentioned in 1408.
One of the oldest Fürstenberg coins
A Theodore von Furstenberg silver coin from 1614
In 1664, Hermann Egon of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg and his brothers, the bishops Franz Egon of Strasbourg and Cardinal William Egon of Fürstenberg, became Princes of the Holy Roman Empire and the first to be raised to imperial princely status by emperor Leopold I. Therefor Hermann Egon is seen as the founder of the Principality of Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg.
Furstenberg coins from 16th and 17th centuries
Minted under Dietrich von Fürstenberg, Bishop of Paderborn, 1585-1618 (left) and under Ferdinand von Fürstenberg, Bishop of Paderborn and Münster, 1661-1683 (right):
In 1716, Count Joseph Wilhelm Ernst becomes (again) Prince of Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg (due to various partitions followed by unification of the small counties). It was he who changed his residency to Donaueschingen, a small settlement near the confluence of the Brigach and Breg rivers, the source of the Danube river. There he built a residence fit for a prince, he organized the administration of the county and is seen as the founder of the Principality of Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg.
A Furstenberg-Stuhlingen Taler from 1729
A coin that should not exist in such a fine state. The obverse: we see the bust of Josef Wilhelm Ernst Furstenberg-Stuhlingen in armored suit. Do notice the fine details: the edge of each curl fully defined, and his facial features easily pronounced. Also, notice the flan (or planchet, the round metal disk that is ready to be struck as a coin): in russets and golden hues just like a painter’s brush strokes. The reverse: figures at work, with a view of the mines and valley in the background. Do notice the excellent proportions of the details and the 3D perspective created with the use of repoussoir (an object along the right or left foreground that directs the viewer’s eye into the composition by framing the edge).
The Fürstenberg porcelain
Duke Charles I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, who reigned as Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel from 1735 until his death, requested that a porcelain factory be built in 1747 in Fürstenberg.
Below is one of the oldest drawing used by Fürstenberg porcelain factory dating from 1760: the castle and the factory, and painted by Pascha Johann Weitsch. The plate is from the Duke Carl I of Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel set.
It is interesting to know that the Fürstenberg porcelain trademark, the blue “F”, dates since 1740 and the ALT FÜRSTENBERG range is still produced today in its original Rococo style.
Moving on with the history of the Fürstenberg family…
At the end of the 18th century, Prince Joseph Maria Benedikt, the third Prince of the House of Fürstenberg-Stühlingen, is known to have studied at the University of Salzburg and was a passionate musician and a patron of the arts. For this, the Prince upgraded the riding school in Donaueschingen into a 500 seat theater to play the works of great composers of the day. He is also remembered to have regulated the lives of his subjects with moral severity…
In 1766 and age 10, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited the Fürstenberg home in Donaueschingen for twelve days and performed for the Prince, his family, and guests. Both Mozart and his sister received diamond rings as a sign of gratitude for their performance.
Later, Mozart proposed that the Prince of Fürstenberg pay him a regular annual salary in return for new compositions for exclusive use at the court in Donaueschingen. The Prince purchased three symphonies and three piano concertos but, sadly, decided not to pay Mozart the salary the musician hoped for. If only he would have.
The Furstenberg-Stuhlingen coin of 1767 worth nearly 40 000 USD
A Josef Wenzel Furstenberg-Stuhlingen coin, struck as part of the Mining Taler series featuring St. Wenceslas standing in front of the Wenceslas Mine:
In November 15, 1772 the Prince of Fürstenberg was contracted to marry Princess Maria Theresa of Thurn and Taxis but it didn’t work out as the princess changed her mind. He married instead Maria Antonia of Hohenzollern-Hechingen in 1778. An alliance that did not work out wither, although they shared a passion for music and she was an “excellent soprano”, courageous, determined and ingenious although unusually small.
Over the centuries members of Fürstenberg family have risen to prominence as soldiers, churchmen, diplomats, and academics. Sometimes the name was gallicized as de Furstenberg or anglicized as Furstenberg. 🙂
The Principality of Fürstenberg was one of 16 principalities dissolved by the treaty of the Rhine In 1806. Most part was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Baden, smaller parts were given to the Kingdom of Württemberg, the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and the Kingdom of Bavaria.
The Fürstenbergnoble title was retired.
The Fürstenberg family no longer rules as princes, yet it still resides at Donaueschingen (with its gardens, grounds and an extensive library), at Heiligenberg and Weitra.
And a Furstenberg street in chic Paris
Rue de Furstemberg is located in one of the most charming squares in Paris.
The street was named after Cardinal Guillaume-Egon de Fürstenberg (1629-1704), ordained Abbot of Saint-Germain-des -Prés in 1697. He was the same Guillaume-Egon which, in 1664 and together with his brothers Hermann Egon of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg and bishop Franz Egon of Strasbourg, were raised to the status of Princes of the Holy Roman Empire by emperor Leopold I.
Place de Furstenberg or Rue de Furstemberg is in the heart of the wealthy 6tharrondissement, tucked between the web of streets found between the left bank of the Seine and Boulevard Saint-Germain.
The square is the foreground to the entrance of the Abbatial Palace constructed in 1586 by Cardinal Charles I de Bourbon and named after the Cardinal Guillaume-Egon de Furstenberg.
Notice below Rue de Cardinal perpendicularly to Rue de Furstenberg?
Rue de Furstemberg, 75006 Paris, France
The surrounding buildings here are placed around a central island and form a charming courtyard. Noticeable here is the Haussmannian architecture that defines Paris, a subtle hint of the romantic and traditional Parisian charm.
A hotspot for intellectuals and artists, Rue de Furstenberg is also famous for having been home to Eugène Delacroix who moved there to be nearer to the Eglise Saint-Sulpice which he had been commissioned to decorate.
Not any know, but an unfinished Medieval statue of the Virgin with Child was reassembled from three pieces of rock discovered in an archeological dig on the Rue de Furstenberg in 1999. The Statue can be admired in the Church of Saint-Germain des Prés nearby, the oldest church in Paris.
Discovering the history behind a family name is a fascinating journey, one I hope you enjoyed taking with me. Thank you for reading ‘A History of Furstenberg: Coins, a Castle, Porcelain, and a Street.’ Until next time.
Enjoy Winternag, Winter Night by Eugene Marais here in both Afrikaans and English. Eugene Marais was a South African lawyer, naturalist, poet and writer. He wrote this poem in 1905.
Winternag, Eugene Marais
‘O koud is die windjie en skraal. En blink in die dof-lig en kaal, so wyd as die Heer se genade, lê die velde in sterlig en skade En hoog in die rande, versprei in die brande, is die grassaad aan roere soos winkende hande.
O treurig die wysie op die ooswind se maat, soos die lied van ‘n meisie in haar liefde verlaat. In elk’ grashalm se vou blink ‘n druppel van dou, en vinnig verbleek dit tot ryp in die kou!’
Winter Night, Eugene Marais
‘Cold is the slight wind and sere. And gleaming in dim light and bare, as vast as the mercy of God, lie the plains in starlight and shade. And high on the ridges, among the burnt patches, the seed grass is stirring like beckoning fingers.
O tune grief-laden on the east wind’s pulse like the song of a maiden whose lover proves false. In each grass blade’s fold a dew drop gleams bold, but quickly it bleaches to frost in the cold!’
English translation by Guy Butler)
Originally published in Afrikaans Poems with English Translations edited by A. P. Grove and C. J. Harvey, Cape Town, Oxford University Press, 1962
Eugène Marais (1871-1936) had twelve brothers and sisters and grew up between Pretoria, Boshof and Paarl, South Africa. Whatever Eugène learnt at home he learnt from his mother, Catharina. Much of his early education was in English, as were his earliest poems. In 1890, at only 19 years of age, Eugène became editor of the weekly Land en Volk, the only Dutch-Afrikaans opposition newspaper in the Transvaal. The following year he became the paper’s co-owner and by 1892 the newspaper’s readership doubled. He was responsible for writing the entire paper and selling advertising space. He is remembered as the father of Afrikaans poetry.
My pen is my wonderland. Word water in my hand. In my pen is wonder ink. Stories sing. Stories sink.
My stories loop. My Stories stop. My pen is my wonder mop. Drink letters. Drink my ink.
My pen is blind. My stories blink.
by Joe Public, South African-based ad agency – source
What the poem means to me as I read it in English
To me, My Stories Begin as Letters is a writer’s confession. Whatever he writes is nascent as an inner thought, as an intimate letter to oneself.
There are so many ideas swimming through a writer’s mind, yet not all of them will come to life in ink on paper and even fewer will reach a conclusion.
But when this happens a part of the writer’s life, of his energy, of his pen, will remain trapped inside that story forever. A bitter-sweet conclusion.
What the poem means when read in Afrikaans
Most of the poem has a similar meaning to what one would get when reading it in English, perhaps with these two minute exceptions:
The pen’s ink is fluid and so are the words it puts on paper, like a fluid that runs through the writer’s hand.
The pen and its ink can, in the hands of a writer, create a wonderful story.
Lost in translation or not?
Between the English and Afrikaans readings of the poem above all the words have the same meaning except for the following three:
The English meaning of the Afrikaans words:
word = become, transform
loop = flow, walk
blink = shiny, sparkly
As we switch between two languages and read through the prism of each one’s cultural background that we basked in when exposed to it, when assimilating it, is our ideology changing as well?
Let’s imagine the poem as a painting we regard in a museum. The culture is the room in which the painting is hanging and the ideology is the way we take the painting in as we first see it.
Change its location, its language in this instance, and we see the painting in a different light.
Are the Afrikaans and English languages related?
Yes, they are both Indo-European languages. The Afrikaans language, also called Cape Dutch, is a West Germanic language developed from 17th-century Dutch by the descendants of European colonists (Dutch, German, and French), of indigenous Khoisan peoples, and of African and Asian slaves living in the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope (today Cape Town, South Africa). Modern Afrikaans language, or informal Afrikaans, is the result of many other language influences, both foreign and indigenous, on the original Afrikaans dialect. The English language is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family and is closely related to Frisian, German, and Dutch (in Belgium called Flemish) languages.
Since 1994 Afrikaans is one of eleven official languages of South Africa.
Welkom by Afrikaanse Vergelykings – Afrikaans simile.
We often use similes without realizing, when we desire to emphasize the meaning of an idea or an image. But similes allow us insight into a different culture, as you can notice from these Afrikaans similes and their English translations.
Ons gebruik gereeld vergelykings, somtyds sonder dat ons dit besef, om ‘n idee of beeld te versterk. Vergelykings gee ons ook insig in ander kulture, soos jy kan opmerk van herdie Afrikaanse vergelykings en hulle (direkte) Engelse vertalings.
so arm soos ‘n kerkmuis = as poor as a church mouse
This simile is probably deriving from an older one, as hungry as a church mouse – illustrating how the Catholic and the Orthodox priests were careful not to mess the smallest crumb of the sacramental bread.
Die vergelyking het heelwaarskynlik sy oorsprong van ‘n ouer een, “so honger soos ‘n kerkmuis”, wat illustreer hoe versigtig die Katolieke en Ortodokse priesters was om nie die kleinste krummel van die heilige nagmaalbrood te mors nie.
so bitter soos gal = as bitter as bile
so bleek soos ‘n laken = as pale as a sheet
In English we would rather say as pale as death, as pale as a ghost, as white as a sheet)
so blind soos ‘n mol = as blind as a mole so blou soos die hemel / die berge = as blue as the sky / as blue as a mountain so dapper soos ‘n leeu = as brave as a lion
so dood soos ‘n mossie = as dead as a sparrow
This simile might derive from as dead as a dodo (referring to the dodo being an extinct species), although I think that as dead as a door nail is more used.
so doof soos ‘n kwartel = as deaf as a quail
Quails are widespread in South Africa and very easy to catch. The expression is based on a misunderstanding between Dutch and German. In German “doof” means “dumb”. Because quails are easy to catch or be lured with simple tricks, the Germans called them “doof” and the word entered Dutch and then Afrikaans. In English we would say as deaf as a post.
so dom soos ‘n esel = as stupid as a donkey so donker soos die nag = as dark as the night so dronk soos ‘n matroos = as drunk as a sailor so droog soos kurk / strooi = as dry as cork / as dry as straw (as dry as a bone is used in English) so dun soos ‘n plank = as thin as a plank (rather as thin as a rail in English)
so fris soos ‘n perd = as healthy as a horse
This is an interesting Afrikaans idiom as the English equivalent originates in the NE of the USA and is best used in summer. In English we would rather say as healthy / as fit as a butcher’s dog. This makes sense as a butcher’s dog would have a diet based on meat and other scraps, thus keeping him healthier than the stray dogs.
so geduldig soos Job = as patient as Job so geel soos goud = as yellow as gold geld soos bossies = money like weeds (has a lot of money) so gereeld soos klokslag = as regular as clockwork so giftig soos ‘n slang = as poisonous as a snake
so goed soos goud = as good as gold (completely genuine)
This simile most probably draws from the end of the 19th century when banknotes were first introduced in the USA. These were actually IOUs, written promises for a later payment, in gold and silver. Thus the expression, IOUs were “as genuine as gold”, as good as gold.
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit… “As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843
so glad soos seep = as smooth as soap so groen soos gras = as green as grass so groot soos ‘n reus = as big as a giant so hard soos klip = as hard as stone so helder soos kristal = as clear as crystal so honger soos ‘n wolf = as hungry as a wolf
so koel soos ‘n komkommer = as cool as cucumber
As cool as a cucumber dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Cool here does not refer to low temperature, but rather to someone unruffled. As cool as a cucumber was first recorded in 1732, in John Gay’s New Song on New Similes.
so koud soos ys = as cold as ice so krom soos ‘n hoepel = as crooked as a hoop so kwaai soos ‘n tierwyfie = as vicious as a tigress so lelik soos die nag = as ugly as the night so lig soos ‘n veer = as light as a feather so lui soos ‘n donkie = as lazy as a donkey so maer soos ‘n kraai = as thin / skinny as a crow so mak soos ‘n lam = as tame as a lamb so maklik soos pyp opsteek = as easy as lighting a pipe
so moeg soos ‘n hond = as tired as a dog
As tired as a dog draws back to the 9th century, originating in the adjectival phrase dog-tired. It is said that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and King of the Anglo-Saxons used to send his sons, Athelbrod and Edwin, out hunting accompanied by their dogs. Whichever son would catch more game would be seated at their father’s right hand side at the dinner table that evening. The hunt would leave both young princes as tired as a dog.
so nat soos ‘n kat = as wet as a cat so nuuskierig soos ‘n aap = as curious as a monkey so oud soos die berge = as old as the mountains so plat soos ‘n pannekoek = as flat as a pancake pronk soos ‘n pou = shows off like a peacock so reg soos ‘n roer = as straight as a barrel (of a gun) so rond soos ‘n koeël = as round as a bullet so rooi soos bloed = as red as blood so regop soos ‘n kers = as upright as a candle rook soos ‘n skoorsteen = smokes like a chimney so sag soos sy = as soft as silk so seker soos twee maal twee vier is = as sure as knowing two times two is four sing soos ‘n nagtegaal = sings like a nightingale so skerp soos ‘n lemmetjie = as sharp as a razor blade so skraal soos ‘n riet = as slim as a reed so skurf soos ‘n padda = (skin) as scabby / dry as a toad
slaap soos ‘n klip = sleeps like a stone
The former version of sleep like a stone would be sleep like a log – metaphorically mentioned in English as early as the 17th century:
“foundering is when she will neither veere nor steare, the sea will so ouer rake her, except you free out the water, she will lie like a log, and so consequently sinke.”
John Smith, A Sea Grammar, 1627
so slim soos ‘n jakkals = as clever, crafty as a jackal so soet soos suiker / stroop = as sweet as sugar / syrup so stadig soos ‘n trapsuutjies = as slow as a chameleon so steeks soos ‘n donkie = as stubborn as a donkey so sterk soos ‘n os = as strong as an ox so stil soos ‘n muis = as quiet as a mouse stink soos ‘n muishond = stinks like a skunk so suur soos asyn = as sour as vinegar so swaar soos lood = as heavy as lead so swak soos ‘n lammetjie = as weak as a lamb so swart soos die nag = as black as the night swem soos ‘n vis = swims like a fish sweet soos ‘n perd = sweats like a horse so taai soos ‘n ratel = as tough as a honey badger so trots soos ‘n pou = as proud as a peacock so vas soos ‘n rots = as steady as a rock so vinnig soos ‘n windhond = as fast as a greyhound
so wit soos sneeu = as white as snow
Imagine the pure, pristine snow of a sunny winter’s morning. Shakespeare was one of the first to use this powerful simile:
… What if this cursed hand Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood, Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens To wash it white as snow? …
Thank you for reading Afrikaanse Vergelykings, Afrikaans simile, a comprehensive and fun guide.
Did you know that South Africans can now order my books through LOOT?
You can order my latest novel, Silent Heroes, a #1 New Release in Amazon US in History of Afghanistan for kindle category for a couple of months, a #2 Best Sellers in Arms Control as well as #4 Best Seller in Middle Eastern Literature from Loot.