CHRISTIAN MORGENSTERN: The Banshee (An Approach)

Translation by Max Knight

One night, a banshee slunk away
from mate and child, and in the gloom
went to a village teacher's tomb,
requesting him: "Inflect me, pray."

The village teacher climbed up straight
upon his grave stone with its plate
and to the apparition said
who meekly knelt before the dead:

"The banSHEE, in the subject's place;
the banHERS, the possessive case.
The banHER, next, is what they call
objective case--and that is all."

The banshee marveled at the cases
and writhed with pleasure, making faces,
but said: "You did not add, so far,
the plural to the singular!"

The teacher, though, admitted then
that this was not within his ken.
"While bans are frequent", he advised,
"A she cannot be plurized."

The banshee, rising clammily,
wailed: "What about my family?"
Then, being not a learned creature,
said humbly "Thanks" and left the teacher.

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