If Goethe had had to prepare supper

I’m just back from a cycling holiday along the banks of the Danube from Passau, near the German/Austrian border, to Vienna, in Austria. The weather was excellent. I didn’t get saddle-sore, thanks to several pairs of padded shorts. And although my leg muscles were exhausted by the end of day two, I got a second-wind and finished the trip without too many aches.Emerenz Meier

However, the point of this blog post is to highlight a memorial to the authoress, Emerenz Meier, on the river bank in Passau. The written work of this lady suffered due to the pressures on her to earn a living and keep house. She laments this in a poem reproduced on the memorial. It reads:

If Goethe had had to prepare supper, salt the dumplings;
If Schiller had had to wash the dishes;
If Heine had had to mend what he had torn, to clean the rooms, kill the bugs –
Oh, the menfolk, none of them would have become great poets.

Most of us have moaned, at some time or another, about the way chores and working for a living take up too much time. Time which could otherwise be used for productive writing. Today, equality of the sexes means fitting in the housework is no longer a uniquely female problem. But Emerenz Meier was born in 1874, died in 1928 and was married twice, so I’m guessing neither husband was particularly domesticated.

So next time domestic drudgery is getting in the way of creativity, be glad that we have washing machines, vacuum cleaners and many other labour saving devices: Emerenz would have been doing everything the hard way. And we don’t usually have to kill too many bugs!

The memorial was erected by Soroptimist International Club Passau, an organisation of professional women.

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  1. #1 by the #1 Itinerary on June 20, 2019 - 9:13 am

    Great post 🙂

  2. #2 by lynnforthauthor on June 20, 2019 - 10:34 am

    There’s a wonderful poem about why Dorothy Wordsworth never got round to finishing her poem of Daffodils because William kept interrupting her for his shoes etc. Wish I could find it. Carole Anne Duffy perhaps?

    • #3 by Sally Jenkins on June 20, 2019 - 1:34 pm

      Haven’t heard of that poem, Lynn. Can anybody else shed any light?

  3. #4 by lynnforthauthor on June 20, 2019 - 10:36 am

    Found it…Lynn Peters wrote it .Look it up. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to copy it out here.

  4. #6 by juliathorley on June 21, 2019 - 12:24 pm

    As I hurtle towards a few days away, trying to fit a month’s work into three weeks and still keep on top of my domestic ‘duties’, this really struck a chord. 🙂

    • #7 by Sally Jenkins on June 21, 2019 - 2:13 pm

      If only we lived in the days of servants & housekeepers … (and were of the class that could afford them!)

  5. #8 by writingroma on July 23, 2019 - 5:20 pm

    Wow. Very jealous of cycling trip on the Danube. Goethe says something for every life moment:

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on July 23, 2019 - 6:28 pm

      Thanks very much for the link, WritingRoma. I’ve just clicked through and can see your knowledge of Goethe is much better than mine! (And I can recommend the cycling if you ever get the chance!)

      • #10 by writingroma on July 23, 2019 - 6:57 pm

        Yes, the cycling. I have some friends who want to go on a Danube cruise. I thought may be I could cycle as they float. I must investigate that possibility. On the other hand, I have really stopped cycling in the US. I live in New York. The number of distracted drivers is immense. Have you noticed this phenomenon there?

      • #11 by Sally Jenkins on July 24, 2019 - 12:49 pm

        The company we booked with, Freedom Treks, offer a Danube cruise with cycling along as an option.
        I live in the Midlands in the UK, so not as frantic as New York but I will only cycle on quiet country roads (preferably on a Sunday morning) or in the park. Don’t like the traffic!

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