Here is an English translation of the original 15th Century poem Schlaraffenland, by Hans Sachs, which inspired the Lehár operetta and the Schlaraffia Society. Franz Lehár was a member of the Schlaraffia society which included a variety of musicians and artists from all walks of life. Some of the rituals of the group and ceremonies are touched upon in Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod.
Freely translated by Hans Hinrichs and “purged of some vulgarities which the modern reader will prefer unprinted.”
In fabulous Schlaraffenland
The Sluggards sit in full command.
It lies three leagues past Christmas Day;
And he who’d go must eat his way
(Digging a tunnel like a mole)
Through hills of porridge, to his goal.
But once he does, with breeches tight,
He’ll belch at all the wealth in sight:
There peaked roofs are Pancake-shingled,
Walls and halls are solid Cake,
Porches Pork, and ceilings Steak;
Stout Sausage strings, all crisp and brown,
Are strung for fences in the town.
From every well you crank up Wine;
Malmsey and Mulberry and Rhine;
The hemlock trees are hung with Scones,
Buttered well and shaped like cones;
The pine produces Pies forsooth,
The dogwood - Doughnuts. It’s God’s truth!
The willows bend with Rolls and Bread
By waters that run Milk instead;
And all streams teem with toothsome
Fried, baked, roasted, as you wish;
In fact they swim so close to land
You reach and catch them with your hand.
Roast Chickens, Geese and Pigeons go
Flying within reach, and slow:
And when the birds are winging South
Just gape - they’ll fly into your mouth!
The Hogs you meet on every side
Are sleek and fat and crisply fried:
They carry knives - it’s very nice -
And stand by while you carve your slice!
The very horses drop - poached Eggs!
And Figs pile up by donkey’s legs;
For Fruit you never climb a tree:
Cherries hang down to each man’s knee.
The Fount of Youth flows down past benches
Filled with oldsters mad for wenches;
For others there’s the target shoot,
Where he who misses gets the loot.
The last man wins in every race,
And being first is a disgrace.
Thus if you loose while rolling dice
The winning player pays you twice;
If you owe money past one year,
The lender pays you back I hear.
A whpping Fib is worth a crown:
Great Liars gather great renown;
Whereas the man with honest wit
Provokes the populace to spit.
There is no place in all the land
For anyone who works by hand,
And he who calls for Trust and
Is promptly shooed across the border.
But any good-for-nothing
Is honored as a man of class;
The laziest lout is crowned the King,
The Boor becomes an Atheling;
The Poltroon, all afraid to fight,
Is promptly dubbed a gallant Knight.
If you have hugely drunk and whored
You’re promptly honored as a Lord;
And every kind of Rotter can
Announce himself a Nobleman.
Are you like that? Alack-a-day!
Go to Schlaraffenland and stay!
To warn my hearers this was writ;
Now go and do the opposite!
Not greedy, gross, nor lazy be,
And shun my friends, iniquity;
Be diligent, and work, and pray,
For laziness will never pay.
Pictures of the original Viennese Production in 1907 from the Australian National Library. Carlo Bohm and Heinrich Pirk as Peter and Paul im Schlaraffenland. Ludwig Gutman, photographer.
Picture of the scene 3 set in Peter und Paul im Schlaraffenland, Vienna 1907. Set designed by Carl Triebel.