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A Guinness parable
A Tapster’s Rebuke, administered at the Brazen Head in Dublin

Translator: Michael Shields (Galway) 2000
published in: Germanistik in Ireland. Jahrbuch der Association of Third-Level Teachers of German in Ireland. Hg. Hans-Walter Schmidt-Hannisa u. Florian Krobb. Vol.3/2008
Original title: Das Guinness-Gleichnis - Matthias Politycki
07/02/2008
published in:
Die Sekunden danach
- Germanistik in Ireland. Hg. H.-W. Schmidt-Hannisa u. F. Krobb. Vol.3/2008; A. Leitner u. G. Trinckler (Hg.): Gedichte für Nachtmenschen. München 2008; enth. in: Die Sekunden danach
I.

Stop! said the curate, what’s the hurry, man? when I
had already grabbed the glass that he placed in passing
on the bar. That’s Guinness! You have to give it time, he said,
it’s still alive when it comes out the tap. See
for yourself – look at it seething, pale as ash, disturbed
before it settles down. Now give it three or four
more minutes till it’s set jet black in the glass, its foam
pure pearly white on top, no thicker’n half a dog-
collar, and strong enough to trot a mouse upon
but leave no tracks. Then and only then it was time,
then it was beer and not before. And until then,
reflect.


II.

Disgraced, I looked around: eight hundred years of thirst
looked back, encased in darkened wainscoting, and when
my time was come, the keeper used the tap to inscribe
the outline of a harp upon the foam. This was
the mark of the brewery. But once more: Stop! he said,
when I reached for the glass again. Full well he knew
that I was a stranger in his native town, and foolish
too. For crying out loud, don’t gulp it down. Enjoy
in moderation. Then look into your glass at the end:
You’ll see a line of rings going right down to the bottom,
a story in foam, the history of your thirst. It’s like
a parable. Of what? He didn’t tell. Anyhow,
cheers!


III.

So there I was. The glass stood before me, filled
with blackest smoke and fog, turf-smells, the sound of singing ...
all this awaited me within. Far off, the tapster
busied himself at the other end of the bar with stories
of how he had nearly pulled the eejit over there
a lousy pint. The foreigner. Who now, timidly, raised
the glass at last to his lips, and though he didn’t drink, at least
he sipped.



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