Sunday, May 06, 2007

"One less thing ..."

Something for the Lord's Day:

Writing in the 1980s, Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) quoted a humorous couplet from the German poet, Wilhelm Busch. I don't read German, and I don't have the German original, but the English translation I have doesn't quite work. So I have "translated" it, retaining I'm quite sure its essence:
Once your worldly reputation is in tatters,
You'll have more time for what really matters.
Cardinal Ratzinger quoted the Wilhelm Busch version of this couplet during those years when he was widely and falsely accused of being an ecclesiastical Neanderthal. It's quite clear to those who bother to read what he wrote during those years that he used his extra time wisely.


Scipio said...

"Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert, lebt sich's völlig ungeniert."

It seems that the quote is actually falsely ascribed to Wilhelm Busch (cf.

I am fine with the first part, but I don't think that you caught/catched the essence of the second: Ungeniert goes more into the direction of "cavalierly, uninhibited by the opinion of others, not being embarrassed or easily embarrassable (if this term exists)".

The Cardinal of course did both: Used his time for what really matters and did so without looking for praise by others or by caring for his reputation.

Gil Bailie said...

I'm so happy to have both a German speaker and a German scholar looking over my shoulder. I notice that Scipio and I share the same tastes in books and movies.

I'm grateful for the corrective.