Ship Of Fools

It’s getting cold, all signs indicate a storm
There’s only stupid giggling and nagging from the command tower
And a dull grinding sound from the engine.
Rolling and pounding and heavy seas
The band is playing a joyous song
And mad laughter is heard from the latrine.
The cargo is rotten, the papers are fake
The bilge pumps leak and the bulkheads are blocked
The hatches are wide open and all alarm bells are ringing.
The waves are crashing six-foot high into the loading bay
And St Elms fires are seen on the bay deck
Yet nobody on board is able to understand the signs!

The helmsman lies, the captain is drunk
And the machinist is sunk into dull lethargy
The crew are just perjured crooks
The radio operator is too cowardly to send an SOS
Kobolds are leading the fools’ ship
Full steam ahead for the reef!

On the horizon, the signs of the times are signaling
Perfidy, greed, vanity.
On the bridge, idiots are gawking.
Sharp-toothed sharks are fishing in the murky waters
Bringing their prey to tax havens
To the sandbank, the well-known treasure island.  
The others, money launderers, and pimps, are already waiting
Brothel kings and gambling barons
In the bright light, nobody has to sneak around in the dark
In the banana republic, where even the CEO
Has lost all shame and knows no scruples,
To show himself with the tax thief in public.

People have become brown-nosers, have gotten used to it.
All our ideals have drowned
And the great rebel, who never tired of fighting
Became a servile, poisonous gnome
And tamely sings songs to the bad old man in Rome

It’s true: times change!

Formerly wild young men are now submissive, devout and tame
Bought out, anesthetized and unable to fly
With little velvet paws in exchange for their once so sharp claws.
And vain old men arrogantly present themselves
With far too young women on the upper deck
They warm their flaccid limbs and pre-chew their food.

They are arming themselves against the enemy, but the enemy has long been here.
He has his hand on your throat, he is right behind you.
He shuffles marked cards, protected by law.
Everyone can see it, but all look away
And shady characters emerge from their hiding-places
And deals drugs right in front of the kindergarten.
The lookout shouts from the highest mast: It’s the end of times!
But all are petrified and don’t hear him
They move like lemmings, mindless hordes.
It is as if all have lost their mind
Committed themselves to the downfall and decline
And a ghost light has become their beacon.

The helmsman lies, the captain is drunk
And the machinist is sunk into dull lethargy
The crew are just perjured bandits,
The radio operator is too cowardly to send an SOS
Kobolds are leading the fools’ ship
Full steam ahead for the reef!

Text and Music by Reinhard Mey
A song from 1998, but more up-to-date than ever
Original in German “Das Narrenschiff”

I have made it a goal to publish and also translate more texts into English because it always bothered me that the United States rarely returns the favor. While so many American films, books, and songs are played, read, and watched in countries all over the world, we here in the US seem to think that we don’t need to know what the rest of the world writes, listens to, and watches. I politely disagree and perhaps I can change that a little bit.

Songwriters “Liedermacher”

Liedermacher is a form of singers/songwriters whose art (and musical style) has its origins in literature and theatre. It is mostly political and socially critical. Ranging from humorous to downright silly (in content). The singer-songwriter (English) in the understanding of Bob Dylan is to be distinguished from the term Liedermacher, especially regionally (North American area) and stylistically. In addition, there are also the Chansonnier (French), the Cantautore (Italian) or Cantautor (Spanish) and the Bard (Russian). The contents are usually personally or politically influenced.


9 thoughts on “Ship Of Fools

  1. This was a great share… it is really sad we don’t get more art and culture from other countries, it leaves us at a great loss. That is one of the things I love about Word Press and its global community!


  2. I really enjoy it when you share poetry or music, Bridget. American education as a whole is poor, I believe. The standard American classroom from Kindergarten through high school anyway doesn’t offer much of a glimpse beyond our own borders. That’s a generalization, I know, but I think it’s true. You offer a challenge to do our own homework, as well. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your generalization is pretty much spot on. I think I told you that before, there was time when I didn’t answer truthfully when people asked me where I am from. I said ‘Germany’ because I couldn’t handle the Kangaroo respond anymore.
      “I am from Austria” was 80% of the time followed by, “Do you miss the Kangaroos.” At the beginning it was funny, but later I had a hard time biting my tongue.
      I know Austria is a small country but not knowing the different between Austria and Australia shows an ignorance I don’t want to deal with.
      The rest of the world is important, as is the history of the countries. The Greek Empire as well as The Roman Empire, both World Wars, French Revolution and colonialism in Africa, to name just a few.
      You are very well educated and also a very intelligent woman. You see beyond the horizon they painted for us. 🙂


  3. I really enjoyed this Bridget and was trying my inadequate best to follow the German against your marvellous translation. It is so, so true of many countries today, whether we are all heading full steam ahead for the reef, or going to hell in a handcart!

    Liked by 3 people

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