#mauerfall30: Homage to Germany

 Night Thoughts
 
At night I think of Germany,
And then all slumber flies from me;
I can no longer close mine eyes,
The hot and bitter tears will rise.
 
The years pass close upon each other;
And since I last beheld my mother,
Full twelve years long have come and gone,
And ever has my yearning grown.
 
My wistful yearning e’er has grown,
Or o’er my soul a spell she’s thrown;
From her my thoughts I cannot sever,
The dear old dame – God bless her ever!
 
She loves me well, the dear old dame,
And in the lines that from her came,
Tis proven by the words all blurred
How deep her mother’s heart was stirred.
 
My mother’s in my mind always;
Full twelve years have passed away,
Full twelve long years have joined the past
Since to my heart I clasped her last.
 
Oh! Germany will ever stand!
It is a strong and healthy land,
And with its oak and linden trees
I’m sure to find it, when I please.
 
I should not thirst for Germany so,
Did I not there my mother know;
The fatherland will ever stay,
The mother may be called away.
 
Since I have left my native land,
On many Death has laid its hand;
I loved them once – I call the roll
And count them now with bleeding soul.
 
Count them I must; yet, as I count,
Still higher does my torture mount,
As if the corpses, one by one,
Climbed on my breast! Thank God they’re gone!
 
Thank God! Now through my window, glance
The cheerful morning rays of France,
My wife comes with Aurora’s bloom
To smile away the German gloom.

Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856).  Translated by Frances Helman, 1892.

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall – a poem for Germany by exiled German poet Heinrich Heine, as he longs for his home, his mother, and his country. 

Berlin Wall – MADNESS

Since my trip to Berlin earlier this year, I have been my fascinated by the Berlin Wall (it might not have gone unnoticed considering the number of blogs I have done about it).  I am happy that I visited this year because since it is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall, there is a no dearth of information on the Wall, and lots of people are posting new and old images of the Wall on Instagram and other social media.

I am endlessly fascinated by the graffiti on the wall.  It captures the essence of the 1980s and while a majority of the wall and graffiti are gone for good, the images from the 1980s have captured and preserved the essence of that raw, youthful energy forever. This was art on the streets being used as protest. It was the voice of a generation that used the wall as a canvas to reduce some of its horror and make it less threatening. In the words of Thierry Noir, who is the first artist to illegally paint large sections of the Berlin Wall, painting the wall, “subverted this iconic symbol of war into a symbol of hope, granting it real human significance.”

Berlin Wall Graffiti by Thierry Noir (courtesy thierrynoir.com)

One of the remaining sections of the wall has the word MADNESS written in large black letters.  It remains to this day in Berlin in the Topographie des Terrors Center, and is visited by the millions of people that go to Berlin annually.  It would appear to have been done by someone protesting against the madness that was the Berlin Wall. 

However, it turns out the graffiti was done by a member of the British Rock Band called Madness when they visited the wall in the early 80s.  In his twitter feed, Dan Woody Woodgate (one of the band members) writes that in 1980 another band member, Graham Suggs McPherson, climbed on top of a van and wrote MADNESS on the Berlin Wall, which is the same one that exists today.  I was thrilled to see the origin of this fascinating and meaningful word that remains to this day. While most people that see the remaining graffiti naturally conclude that it was a teenager’s commentary on what was going on with the wall and the East German regime, it was actually a band member of a popular 1980s band writing his group’s name on the wall. 

Woody Woodgate’s tweet sheds light on the mysterious MADNESS

In another fascinating find, as I was scouring Instagram for images of the wall, I actually found this word written on the wall from a 1980s image.  What an interesting coincidence – first I found the origin of the word, and then I found an image of what appears to be the same writing from the 1980s.  What do you think? Is it the same writing or another one?

Berlin Wall Graffiti Image from the 1980s (courtesy Instagram Massimiliano T.P.)

I want it to be the same, but I see the differences in placement and letter sizes.  So maybe not the exact same writing but still an interesting find.