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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Election Special 3

One of my daughter's favourite picture story books is the delightful Es klopft bei Wanja in der Nacht (roughly 'A knock on the door in the night at Wanja's').
Wanja lives alone in a cabin deep in the forest. One night there is a terrible snow storm and after he has gone to bed he hears a knock at the door. He gets up and on opening it is surprised to see a hare who begs to be let in out of the storm. Wanja is a good natured soul and lets the hare come into the warm; Der Wanja sagt: "Komm nur herein, ich heize gleich im Ofen ein". Not long afterwards there is another knock at the door. Again Wanja gets up and this time finds a poor fox with frozen toes begging to be let in. Naturally the hare is a bit nervous about this arrangement but the good hearted Wanja extracts from the fox a promise to behave himself and all three settle down for the night. Not long afterwards there is a third knock at the door and  who should be there but a bear who is so cold that he can't stop his teeth from chattering. Now it is the fox who is reluctant to admit the new visitor - a fortnight earlier he stole some meat from the bear and is afraid that he has come to get even. The bear swears that he is harmless, Wanja lets him in and everyone settles down for the night in peace and harmony: Doch drinnen schlafen wohl geborgen Fuchs, Bär und Hase bis zum Morgen.
As morning  breaks the hare is first to wake. The storm has blown itself out. His heart is hammering and he thinks to himself that perhaps the fox's stomach will get the better of his good intentions so he better get off. Next the fox wakes up and realising that the bear may still be angry with him also goes on his way. The bear is nice and warm in his corner but when he eventually wakes he sees, hanging on the wall, Wanja's rifle and realises that he is sleeping in a hunter's cabin and that it would be best if he also slipped away. The last to rise is Wanja:

Der Wanja - noch vom Schlaf umfangen -
begreift nicht, was hier vorgegangen.
Er blickt umher im leeren Raum.
War den das alles nur ein Traum?

Doch draußen sieht er von drei Tieren
die Spuren sich in Schnee verlieren.

Der Wanja schaut und nickt und lacht:
"Wir haben wirklich diese Nacht
gemeinsam friedlich zugebracht. -
Was so ein Schneesturm alles macht!"

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