Lygen üm Lillike Dråken / Lying about Ugly Dragons

Twey mål torüch skreav ik üm dee grüwlike rease, Hunold. Elkeneyn was slim bang vöär hum, up eyn kearl nå dan:

“Nur Egberinks Arndt aus Hardingen lachte über die alten Geschichten und meinte: “Ik bin för de Düvel nich bange en för Hunold gåh ick nicht loopen!” So war Arnd auch wieder am Puchen und Blasen, als [die Jäger] auf dem höchsten Hügel saßen …”

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, 3. uplåge (1967), s. 33

Vöär wel of et neet erinneren kin: Arndt güng seakers loupen, en hard ouk, dow Hunold hum in de smysen vorsökede to krygen. Tja, vöärof of achterof binnen disse ard lüde altyd de dapperste, klookste kearls dee eyn immer möted hev. Elkeneyn kent vast süksen lüde wel uut de eygen umråd. Teagensworig leav ik in Nimwegen, en dår kum ik up stråte altyd en kearl teagen med syn leeve hund, dee warklik wår elken mål en ny öäverdreaven vorhål hev: how of e twey deeven in enkander slågen hev; how of e, twey dågen nå en hartoperatsioon, al wyder sporten gåt, dår ouk de doktoren segged hebben dat hee en medisk miråkel is; how of e elk dearntyn in de nähe al hard noamen hev. Skeitirritant, mor elken mål lüüster ik vannys.

Dat hev ouk en readen, dat ik elken mål lüüster: disse kearl is en vorteller van starke vorhålen, ouk wel löygensages nöömd. Dit binnen vortellingen dee eyn oft öäver eynsülv vortelt, dee sou öäverdreaven bint, dat et håst neet to glöven is. Bekende vöärbilden binnen de vortellingen van de Baron van Münchhausen, of alle åventüren van Walter Moers syn Käpt’n Blaubär.

Et is de vråg, wat of et percyse mål is van disse ard vortellingen. Eyn kin sik vöärstellen, dat manlüde under mekår dit vortellen vöär ståtus. Byvübbeld in en kleadkåmer wår of eyn vortelt üm en wicht, dår hee vorleaden weekend med snuutkeknuvveld hev. En ander, inspireard döär disse lüstige detais, geit wyder med how of hee eyns twey dearntys uut de kroog mednömmen hev. En darden hev dår wyder wat up to vortellen, en sou geit et al grouter en grouter, et eyn noch minder to glöven as et ander. Myn vråg is düs: geit et wel altyd üm, of de vortelling to glöven is? Is et neet ofter sou, dat et wichtigste is, ytswat to vortellen dår elkeneyn van weyt, dat et neet wår is, mor doch sou vorteld wurdt dat eyn der doch heyl wat vernüverheyd uut hålt?

Up etsülve momint givt et lüde ouk irritatsioon (of in al val my) as eyn siksülv to seriös nimt. Disse irritatsioon is, neavens my, ouk to vinden in alderhande volksvortellingen. Kyk byvübbeld torüch når dee vortelling üm Arndt en Hunold. Arndt is noch sou an et groutpråten, mor dår Hunold hum achternå geit, stüüvt Arndt so håstig vurd as hee kin. Dit seen wy ofter torüch in volksvortellingen, seakers dår der en konfrontatsioon is med eyn of ander monster. Sou givt et ouk disse vortelling uut Meklenburg üm en lindwurm:

“Vör dissen sehg’ dat in Mecklenborg ganz anners ut as hüüttodags. De Wälder wiren väl grötter un hüngen all tosamen. Dorin gew dat nich bloß Büffel un Wülf un anner grote, gefährliche Diere, nee, dat gew ok noch Drachen un Lindwörm de Masse. Je mihr œwer de Wälder runswadelt würden, je mihr verschwünnen ok de Ungeheuer in ’n Land’n.

“Een von de letzten Lindwörm harr sich nah den Kuckuckssee bie ’n Hasenkrog’ twischen Neetzsch un Golm trüchtreckt. Hier un in de Hasenkröger Dannen dreew he sien Unwäsen, un ’t würden nich bloß Kinner, nee, ok grote Minschen von em upfräten …

“Dunn kem nah Schönbeck ’n niegen Jäger, mit Namen Jakob. Dee set väl in den Golmer Krog’, drünk un spält Koorten tosamen mit Schooster Schwieghusen, Schnieder Hillbrandten un den Schmidt Salow. Harr de Jäger nu ierst ’n Lütten drunken, denn prahlt he ümmer grot, wat he för Courag’ harr’. He fürcht’t sich gor för ’n Düüwel nich, säd’ he.

“So vertellt he denn ok an ‘n tweeten Pingstabend, dat he nüülich abends mit Jännern, den Düüwel sülwst, tosamen drapen wir. As he nämlich den Torfwegg rup nah’n Busch geiht – dat wir äben schummrig – dunn kümmt mit eenmal een Kierl gegen em to gahn, dee hinkt ‘n bäten. Un as he sich den lahmen Kierl een bäten genauer ankickt, ward he gewohr, dat dat Jänner is, denn he harr eenen Pierd’fot un eenen Höhnerfot. ‘Dat duert ok gor nich lang’, dunn füng Jänner an, mi nah dit un dat to fragen,’ seggt Jakob … ‘Toletzt frög Jänner: ‘Jakob, wat is denn dat för ’n lang’ Ding, dat du dor up dien Schuller hest?’ – ‘Dat is mien Piep!’ säd’ ick. ‘Willst nich ok mal eens rooken?’ – ‘Ja,’ seggt he. Un ick stäk em dat een End’ in ’t Muul un segg: ‘Töw man, ick ward di Füer upböten,’ un schöt em den ganzen Schuß Hasenschrot in ’t Muul un glööwt doch, de Racker müßt up de Stell dot sinn. Œwer dor harr ‘ne Ul säten. He spuckt mi den ganzen Schuß Schrot wedder in ’t Gesicht un säd’: ‘Pfui, Jakob, wat rookst du för ’n starken Tobak!’ Un dormit was he verschwunnen.’

“’Wenn du nich lüggst, Jakob’, säd’ nu Schnieder Hillbrandt, ‘denn wirst du grad’ de Recht, dee uns hier von den greulichen Lindworm befrien künn.’ … ‘Na,’ säd’ Jakob, ‘dee sall mi gewiß nich entgahn.’

“Un richtig, den Abend vör Johanni geiht Jakob mit sien Duwwelflint nah dat Schorfbrok up e Luer. As em dat Stahn œwer ward, sett’t he sich up eenen ollen Barkenstubben, de Flint in ’n Arm, un dust so äben in. As he upwakt, is dat got Middag.

“Œwer wat kriggt he för ’n Schreck: de Lindworm harr sich in ’n Kreis rund üm em rümleggt, so dick as so ‘n Sag’block, gewiß an sößtig Ellen lang, un keek em mit sien gläuhnigen Ogen grad’ in ’t Gesicht. Vör Schrecken würd Jäger Jakob ganz ohnmächtig, un as he wedder to sich kamm, dun was dat Undiert verschwunnen. Œwer dat he nich dröömt harr, sondern dat de Lindworm würklich dor lägen harr, dorvon wir dat Bewies, dat de ganze Stell, wo he lägen harr, mit witten Schliem as Gallert bedeckt wir.

“Den Lindworm mücht dat hier œwer ok woll unheemlich worden sinn. He harr sich nämlich uprullt un leep as so ‘n Wagenrad von hier weg, an Dürtenhoff un den Kuckuckssee vörbie, wo em de Golmer Kleewermeihers sehn hebben, in de Richtung up Melkenhoff hento.

“To dunnmalige Tieden würden in Mecklenborg von de Buern noch de Föllen un de Pierd’ hödd’t, un denn was dat Mod’, dat sich de Föllenhöderjungs to Pingsten von Maien ‘ne Pingsthütt buugten … In disse Hütt ward sich de Lindworm rinner leggen. Nu harr dat œwer all in ‘ne ganze Wiel nich rägent, un de Hütt wir knasterdrög’.

“As nu de Höderjungs tofällig nah ehr Hütt kamen, sehn se, dat dor unner dat Loow un de Strüüker ’n grotes Undiert liggt. Ratsch! stäken se de oll Hütt in Brand, un obglieks dat Undiert mit sienen Schwanz gewaltig schleiht un towt, möt dat doch in disse Glaut ümkamen.

“Un dor man siet disse Tiet in Mecklenborg nie wedder wat von ’n Lindworm hürt oder sehn hett, so is dit gewiß de letzte wäst, den de Pasenowschen Föllenhöderjungs in ehr Pingsthütt verbrennt hebben.”

Siegfried Neumann, Plattdeutsche Märchen: Volkserzählungen aus Mecklenburg (1978), s. 33-36

Jåger Jakob wurdt uutvorköäsen, umreaden syn löygensage, dee lindwurm to vorjågen. Uutendlik kan Jakob neet en bült uuthålen: van angst vorlör hee syn bewüstweasen, as hee ümringed wurdt döär dat grüwlike bist. Nee, de wåre helden van disse vortelling binnen de höderjungen (doch geyn wårlike koienjungs) dee et bist de hens in setten.

Nowdestyds binnen der neet en bült lüde öäver, dee glöven sellen, dat Jakob wårlik düvel möted hev, of dat lindwurmen wårlike weasens waren. Doch sel et en skyre test west haren, vöär al dee lüde med höär starke vorhålen. See hebben eyns den düvel syn kop derofskouten? Now, dan kinnen see ouk seakers dee lillike dråk vorswinnen låten! En sou wyd kümt et düs neet. Nee, wårlike helden uut disse vortelling binnen neet de upskeppers, binnen de gewoane lüde: dee jungen, dee hun arbeid düt. In wåre arbeid, dee pinksterhütten, givt et de möyglikheyd, lindwurm to vangen en up to brennen. Et givt geyn readen, dårüm to lygen.

Two posts ago I wrote about that horrible giant, Hunold. Everybody was terrified of him, except for one guy:

“Only Arndt of Egberink from Hardingen laughed about the old tale and said: “I am not even afraid of the Devil, and I won’t run away for Hunold!” In that way Arndt was bragging and exaggerating again, as the hunters were seated on the highest hill …”

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche, Third edition (1967), p. 33

For those who can’t remember: Arndt did actually run, and went fast as well, when Hunold tried to grab him. Well, beforehand or afterwards these type of people are always the bravest and smartest dudes that ever walked the earth. Everybody probably knows people like that. Nowadays I live in the city of Nijmegen, and I always meet this guy with his sweet dog on the street who, I kid you not, every time tells me another exaggerated story: how he beat up two thieves; how he, two days after a heart operation, started exercising again, since even the doctors told him that he is a medical miracle; how he banged every chick in the block. Annoying as hell, but time and again I listen to his stories.

That I listen to this everytime has a reason: this guy is a narrator of tall tales, or lying sagas. These are stories which the narrators often tell about themselves, and which are exaggerated to such an extent that one hardly believes them. Well-known examples are the stories of Baron von Münchausen or the adventures of Walter Moers’ Käpt’n Blaubär.

It remains a question what the exact aim of these kinds of stories is. One can imagine that men tell these stories among each other for status. Think about a changing room setting, where one starts of telling about this girl he made out with last weekend. Another one, inspired by the sappy details, continues about how he had a threesome with two ladies he took home from a bar. A third one has something more to contribute, and each and every next narrator expands on the grandeur of their stories, making it even less believable than the one before that. My question would be: are these stories ever meant to be believed? Might it not be the case that it is more important to tell something that, while not believed, still provides a lot of entertainment?

At the same time, it really annoys people (or, at least, it annoys me) when a narrator takes him/herself too seriously. This irritation can be found back, I believe. in all kinds of folktales as well. Think back, for example, to the story about Arndt and Hunold. Even though Arndt is bragging a lot, but once Hunold starts chasing him, Arndt runs away as fast as he can. This we see in other folktales as well, especially when there is a confrontation with some kind of monster. I’ll illustrate this with this story from Mecklenburg about a wyvern:

“In the past, Mecklenburg looks quite different from today. The forests were way bigger and all interconnected. You could find not only buffalo and wolves and other big, dangerous animals in there, no, there were still a lot of dragons and wyverns as well. As more of the forests were cut down, more of these monsters disappeared from the lands.

“One of the last wyverns holed up near the Kuckuckssee by the Hasenkrüg between Neetzka and Golm. Here and in the forests of Hasenkrüg he hung around terrifyingly, not just eating the children, no, also grown-ups fell victim to him …

“Then a new hunter came to Schönbeck, with the name of Jakob. He was well-seen in the pub of Golm, drinking and playing cards together with shoemaker Schwieghusen, butcher Hillbrandten, and the smitch Salow. Once the hunter drank a bit, he would brag about his huge bravery. He said he even wasn’t afraid of the Devil.

“Thus he told on the second eve of Pentecost, that he recently bumped into Jänner, the Devil Himself. When he went to the shrubbery from the Torfweg – as evening was falling – he met with this guy who limps a little. When he looks a bit more closely at the lame man, he realizes that it is Jänner, because he has a horse’s foot and the foot of a rooster. ‘It didn’t take long before Jänner started asking me all sorts of questions,’ Jakob says … ‘At last Jänner asked me: ‘Jakob, what sort of long thing is that, which you carry around on your shoulder?’ – ‘That is my pipe!’ I said. ‘Would you like a smoke from it?’ – ‘Yes,’ he says. So I put it way down his maw and say: ‘Come on man, I’ll light you a fire,’ and with that I pull the trigger and empty my whole load of filling meant for rabbit right into his maw. I think to myself that he surely would’ve died on the spot. However, an owl sat nearby. He spat out all that rabbit filling in my face and said: ‘Wowie, Jakob, you sure smoke some strong tobacco!’ And he was gone with that.’

“’When you’re not lying, Jakob,’ said the butcher Hillbrant afterwards, ‘then you’d be the right guy who can help us get rid of that horrifying wyvern.’ … ‘Surely,’ Jakob said, ‘he will not escape me.’

“And surely, on the night before Johannistag (the night from the 23rd to the 24th of June) Jakob takes his rifle and goes looking for that guzzling snake. After standing around for a while he sits down on an old birch stump, his rifle in his arms, and drifts off to sleep. When he wakes up, the afternoon is well underway.

“But he is scared by surprise: the wyvern has circled itself around him, being as thick as a sawing block, surely 225 feet long, and looking right into his face with its glowing eyes. Jakob passes out in terror, and when he comes to, the horrifying beast has departed. But most certainly he hadn’t dreamt it all: the proof that the wyvern was there is found in the fact that that whole area, on which the wyvern has laid down, was covered with a white, gall-like mucus.

“But perhaps this was also way too much for the wyvern as well. It had rolled itself up and rolled like the wheel of a barrel away from there, past the Dürtenhof and the Kuckuckssee, where it was spotted by the family Kleewermeiher of Golm, moving towards the Melkenhof.

“Back in those days in Mecklenburg, the farmers still herded the foals and the horses, and it was custom that the boys herding the foals built a Pentecost-hut at Pentecost from the leftovers of the mowing of the land … And the wyvern laid down in one of these huts. It hadn’t been raining for a very long time now, and the hut was as dry as straw.

“When the herding boys stumbled upon their hut by coincidence, they see this ginormous monster laying there under the leaves and bushes. Whoosh! they light up the old hut, and even though the monster is trashing around with its enormous tail, it still perishes in the heat and glow of the fire.

“And because no one has heard about or seen a wyvern since that time in Mecklenburg, it must have been the last one, which was burned by the foal herding boys from Pasenow in their Pentecost-hut.”

Siegfried Neumann, Plattdeutsche Märchen: Volkserzählungen aus Mecklenburg (1978), p. 33-36

Hunter Jakob was elected, because of his tall tale, to hunt down that wyvern. In the end, Jakob is unable to do much: out of fear he lost his consciousness, as he is surrounded by that terrifying monster. No, the true heroes in this tale are the herding boys (just not true cowboys) who light the beast on fire.

Nowadays there are not many people left who would believe that Jakob truly met the Devil, or that wyverns really existed. But it would have been such a good test for all those people telling tall tales. They claim to once have shot off the Devil’s head? Well, in that case they would be able to deal with an ugly dragon as well! But it never comes that far. No, the true heroes from this story are not those bragging, but the normal guys: just people doing their work. In true labour, these Pentecost-huts, it is possible to catch wyverns and burn them up. No reason to lie about that.

“…denn wirst du grad’ de Recht, dee uns hier von den greulichen Lindworm befrien künn”/”…you’d be the right guy who can help us get rid of that horrifying wyvern

Spookplåtkepråt

Üm et måken van de foto

Geyn model ditmål. Dit binnen twey landskapsplåten up mekander, eyn dunkere lucht uutknipped üm de lintwurm to teykenen boavenup en plåt van eyn lüddik huuske in et wyde land. Skane van lintwurm dreigend boaven et huus …

Spooky Spectral Speculations

About creating the picture

No model this time. These are two landscape pictures layered together, a dark sky picture cut out to draw the wyvern on top of a picture of a little house in a wide landscape. The shadow of the wyvern is threatening the house …

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