Monday, November 14, 2022


These Boots Are Made for Walking

Berthold Brecht, "Jenny's Song," Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (tr. H.R. Hays):
As you make your bed you must lie
And no one denies it's true
And if anyone does any stepping, that's me,
And when anyone's stepped on, that's you.

Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man,
Es deckt einen da keiner zu
Und wenn einer tritt, dann bin ich es,
Und wird einer getreten, dann bist's du.
The same, tr. W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman:
As you make your bed, so you lie on it,
The bed can be old or brand-new;
So if someone must kick, why, that's my part
And another get kicked, that part's for you!
The insistence on rhyme obscures the meaning of Brecht's German in these translations. I think the lines mean:
For as you make your bed, so must you lie,
And no one tucks anyone in there
And if anyone kicks, then I'm the one,
And if anyone gets kicked, then it's you.

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