Tindergarden is the Ode to a Nightingale – choose your own Word of the Year

tender is the night in the Upper Palatinate

Word of the year: How about Tindergarden?

Or if that doesn’t grab your fancy, what about Hopfen-Smoothie? That’s a euphemism for beer, as Hopfen is the German word for one of beer’s essential ingredients. 

No? I’ve got at least one more. Here’s Posttruth for you. 

We’re already deep into the holiday season, and soon enough we’ll be subjected to Word of the Year nonsense before we stumble into the new year. 

I’m still chuckling at Tindergarden, which is a comical play on the word Kindergarden. Your garden of acquaintances you met on the dating platform tinder? There’s a word for that now. 

Lucky us. 

Tender is the Night

And when I think of that soft & gentle dating app, I’m immediately making jokes playing on the word ‘tender‘. Jackson Browne singing in my ear, and I’m a preteen again. Completely unaware of tenderness. The very thought was lost on me. 

Then my thoughts meander to the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. Should reread that damned thing at some point. But then I remember that the title Fitzgerald used was actually ganked from a Keats poem. 

And who wouldn’t agree that we could all use just a bit more decent poetry in our lives. Here’s Ode to a Nightingale:
Ode to a Nightingale

By John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 

         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 

         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 

         But being too happy in thine happiness,— 

                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees 

                        In some melodious plot 

         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 

                Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been 

         Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, 

Tasting of Flora and the country green, 

         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! 

O for a beaker full of the warm South, 

         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, 

                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, 

                        And purple-stained mouth; 

         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 

                And with thee fade away into the forest dim: 
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget 

         What thou among the leaves hast never known, 

The weariness, the fever, and the fret 

         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; 

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, 

         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; 

                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow 

                        And leaden-eyed despairs,

         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, 

                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. 
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 

         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, 

But on the viewless wings of Poesy, 

         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: 

Already with thee! tender is the night, 

         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, 

                Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays; 

                        But here there is no light, 

         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown 

                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. 
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, 

         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, 

But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet 

         Wherewith the seasonable month endows 

The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 

         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; 

                Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; 

                        And mid-May’s eldest child, 

         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, 

                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time 

         I have been half in love with easeful Death, 

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, 

         To take into the air my quiet breath; 

                Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 

         To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 

                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 

                        In such an ecstasy! 

         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— 

                   To thy high requiem become a sod. 
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! 

         No hungry generations tread thee down; 

The voice I hear this passing night was heard 

         In ancient days by emperor and clown: 

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 

         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 

                She stood in tears amid the alien corn; 

                        The same that oft-times hath 

         Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam 

                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell 

         To toll me back from thee to my sole self! 

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 

         As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 

         Past the near meadows, over the still stream, 

                Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep 

                        In the next valley-glades: 

         Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 

                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep? 

 

those witches aren’t easy to get to go to rehab

Watch out! She's a witch!

You’ll be very pleased to know that:

Germany Rehabilitates Its Persecuted ‘Witches’

If I know any of you, and to be upfront I don’t think I’ve met many of you, I think you’ll be pleased to learn that Germany is on the road to making things right with the witches.

Now, if you couldn’t be bothered to actually click on the above link, then you might still believe that there are living, breathing witches swarming round the Fatherland either avoiding or willingly taking part in some form of rehabilitation. That’s not exactly the story, but maybe I should’ve left out the link and told that story instead.

No, that’s not what you want. The real story is actually even more surreal.

Here’s how the article describes what’s the buzz, tell me what’s a happenin’:

Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany’s alleged witches have been largely forgotten. But thanks to efforts by a small group of activists, a number of German cities have begun absolving women, men and children who were wrongly accused of causing plagues, storms and bad harvests.

Doesn’t that sound delightful? Tens of thousands, really? You’re asking, ‘Well, there were more people back then, weren’t there?’ Well, actually…no. There weren’t. Fewer people. More witches. ‘This was Germany. You know Germany!-there must’ve been more witches,’ you say? Well, that’s mighty xenophobic of you.

At some point, I should actually get around to mentioning here that one can’t see everything German through the lens of the National Socialists. It’s really easy to forget that there was a lot going on over here long before the little Austrian with the weird hair and funny moustache seized power.

Long before all that stuff that the History Channel makes its noise about, there was a very agrarian culture here in Germany. When crops failed or things generally went poorly, somebody had to be blamed. Enter stage right: the witches.

I was raised with the picture of the Salem Witch Trials, so it’d be rather easy for me to believe that this was a peculiarly American phenomenon. Nothing could be further from the truth. The old country didn’t let go of all of its fanatical religious bigots (actually, from what I understand German emigrants didn’t leave because of religious persecution-that was more of an English thing. You know? The Pilgrims and all).

It’s really quite convenient to have such an implausible scapegoat. The anti-social little girl who doesn’t play well with others? Must be a witch. What other explanation might there be. The woman in your village who has that weird cock-eyed smile. The only possibility? Witch, of course. Actually, come to think of it…I think I know a few witches that still live round here.

In comes our heroine Hartmut Hegeler (it’s a name that practically rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), who as a witch-trial expert has become active in returning the good names of those long ago persecuted. She states clearly what we see today as the blatantly obvious:

“Of course there were no witches, these were all invented crimes,” says Hegeler, who has written 17 books on Germany’s witch trials. “But in hard times it was a good tool for local authorities to place the blame on others for famines and other problems. The witches were a wonderful scapegoat for whenever things went wrong.”

And although I could point out the funny aspects of the story, such as the fact that some of the witches were stitched up for spoiling the production of beer (this is Germany, after all. Beer is important), but instead I’d like to pose a more uncomfortable question.

Who are our witches today? Who are we stringing up and ignoring? The people who watched their neighbours led away to be tried and killed for witch-like tendencies likely breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t them. ‘Whew, we dodged that bullet,’ you can almost hear them say.

I guess a better blogger would have a pat answer for you at this point, but I’m just not able.

I do know that we’re likely just as eager to cast somebody out of our realm of acceptability. It’s ok for you to have some relatively outlandish ideas as long as I deem you an acceptable member of my tribe. As soon as I can mentally cross you off my list, then as far as I’m concerned you can be led to the scaffolding just as quickly as they can take you. Good luck with that witch accusation.

I’m not accusing you personally. I’m actually wondering about myself.