Mudcat Café message #999147 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61938   Message #999147
Posted By: Joe_F
08-Aug-03 - 06:21 PM
Thread Name: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
Subject: RE: Is 'Frau Wirtin' ever sung?
I wrote the following book review some years ago for a gay apa
(amateur press association -- reader-generated magazine). It contains
some guesses that some of the present company may want to correct:


_Frau Wirtin in Klassikers Munde_ [The Innkeeper's Wife in the
Classical Author's Mouth (how's that again?)], by Beppo Freiherr von
Voegelin (Wissenschaftliche Verlaganstalt zur Pflege deutschen
Sinngutes, Muenchen, 1969). For a long time I have wished to know
more about the _Frau Wirtin_ song [a mistake], which is the German
equivalent of our tradition of dirty limericks. Arthur Koestler, in
his reminiscence of undergraduate days in a Zionist dueling fraternity
in Vienna, describes a drunken raunchfest called the "pigsty":

`One of the [alumni], a giant of Falstaffian dimensions..., was an
expert at reciting the famous ballad of "The Innkeeper's Wife." This
ballad, or saga, was begun in the early nineteenth century; since
then, generations of students have added new stanzas, but only those
that were really witty survived by word of mouth and in rare,
privately printed editions. Altogether it was said to consist of
about two hundred and fifty stanzas, of which P. was alleged to know a
hundred and seven by heart. The verses were Limericks of the kind
which starts "There was a young lady of Trent." The highlight of a
"pigsty" came when somebody recited a new strophe of his own
composition; but it was a risky business, for if it did not find
acclaim, the author had to take severe punishment by diving repeatedly
into his glass.'

You can tell Koestler was a journalist by the number of mistakes he
could get into one paragraph. The song is neither a ballad nor a
saga, but a series of unrelated squibs, having in common only the
verse form (which is _not_ the limerick), the tune (which I have not
yet been able to learn [evidently because it does not exist]), and the
fact that all but the first had to start with "Frau Wirtin...". It
was not begun in the early 19th century, but in 1775, by no less a
person than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who wrote, or at least
propagated, the legendary first stanza:

Es steht ein Wirtshaus an der Lahn
Mit einer Wirtin wundersam --
Greift die zu ihrer Leier,
So sitzen alle Gaeste da
Und greifen sich die Eier.

My German is even worse than my Russian..., but it seems to mean:
"There stands an inn on the [river] Lahn, with a wonderful landlady.
When she takes up her barrel organ (or maybe lyre, or -- who knows? --
maybe cunt), all the guests sit there & grab their eggs (or balls)."
This may be funnier in German because of the repetition of "greifen",
but it seems likely that I am missing something.

You can see that this tradition is not only much older than our
limericks, but also more respectable, having the prestige of the
tribal totem behind it. It is as if Shakespeare had written "From the
crypt of the church at St Giles...". This, together with the student
tradition of adding stanzas as mentioned by Koestler, assured that
every subsequent German writer, great or small, would write at least
one Frau Wirtin stanza. Hence this book, which, for each of forty
famous authors & artists, gives a biographical sketch and one or two
stanzas, followed by a psychological interpretation, which I _hope_
was written partly tongue in cheek, tho you never can tell, especially
with Germans.

Goethe himself started the ball rolling with

Frau Wirtin hatt' auch einen Schlaechter,
Der war bei Zeus kein Kostveraechter --
Wenn den die Geilheit packte,
Da sprang er auf den Ladentisch
Und fickte das Gehackte.

("The landlady also had a butcher, who really enjoyed his food. When
he got horny, he jumped on the counter & fucked the hamburger.")

One of the stanzas, by Rainer Maria Rilke, gave me a start:

Frau Wirtin hatt' auch eine Nichte,
Die onanierte mit dem Lichte,
Da kam sie in Ekstase
Und schob auch noch den Leuchter nach --
Er war von blauem Glase.

("The landlady also had a niece, who masturbated with the candle. She
came in ecstasy, and followed it up with the candlestick -- it was
made of blue glass.") I remembered the second line, which my mother
had quoted to me about 30 years ago; she had heard the song from her
first lover, who was German, about 1930. This shows that some very
small loose ends will get tied up if you wait long enough.

The only gay stanza in the book is an anonymous one in an appendix:

Frau Wirtin macht' fuer ihre Gaest'
Einst auch ein Gau-Kreis-Arschfickfest.
Hei! Gab das ein Gedraenge!
Aus Koeln der Onanistenclub
Gewann um Vorhautlaenge.

("The landlady also once put on, for her guests, a Regional Circular
Assfuck Festival. It drew quite a crowd. The Cologne Masturbators'
Club won by a foreskin length.") My guess is that this unit of
distance was not invented by the author, but is commonly used at
German track events, as we say that a horse wins by a nose. (Qy.
What do women win by?)


An RCH, I dare say.
--- Joe Fineman

||: As Balaam found out, even an ass may see something you :||
||: don't.                                                 :||