Sunday, 28 April 2013

vom bamberg bis zum grabfeldgau

There is a saying that there can be no nation without an anthem (keine Nationen ohne Hymne), and while poet and novelist and Auslander, hailing from Karlsruhe in the Duchy of Hessen and by Rhine, Joseph Viktor von Scheffel intended no overtones of political secessionism or dangerous patriotism when he composed the lyrical anthem of the Franconia region (das Frankenlied). I think it was pure exultation and inspiration that he found while on retreat for the summer in 1859, in the midst of a march-writing craze, as a guest of Cloister Banz and explored Little Switzerland (die fränkische Schweiz), which the people later adopted as a regional symbol. Apparently, school children learn the song, rife with references to Franconia’s cities, landmarks and lore, and there’s even the robust refrain “Valeri, Valera.”
Valer-rah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Much of the matter of the lyrics touch on what von Scheffel could take in from his terrace, the peaks each with their own myths, the remainders of Celts, Mongols, the French and the Americans that also passed through. The words are wonderful and genuine, and who wouldn’t just visiting want to break into song with praise for this area. There is a priceless element of pomp to it too, which I suppose resides in all anthems and similar state-songs, like Rule Britannia! (von Scheffel also composed that summer rhymes about dinosaurs when a scientist who was also in residence showed him his fossil discoveries), which I won’t identify, not wanting (nor willing) to take away from this enduring double-rainbow moment and enduring pride.