Friday, May 4, 2012

Life's Like a Cigar: "And like tobacco--you--to ashes turn."

I offer our readers a poem about cigars which compares the fleeting smoke to our fleeting lives. It is written by a largely unknown German philosopher, theologian, and writer, Christoph Weißenborn (1699-1731). There is not much biographical material on the internet regarding him; however, I am quite sure that he was a Lutheran by confession.  This goes to show that cigar smoking is valuable ecumenical device, as it encourages of dialogue, builds camaraderie, and, if our friend Weißenborn is followed, helps promote reflection and contemplation.

I stumbled upon a poem attributed to him sort of accidentally:

Betrachtet man den flüchtgen Rauch,
so muß man als ein Christ gestehen.
Wir müssen endlich eben auch,
wenn Zeit und Stunde kommt, vergehen.
Und steigt der Mensch gleich noch so hoch
und wär der größte auf der Erden,
so muß der Leib doch endlich noch
wie du, Tabak, zu Asche werden.

 The poem is quoted in Georg Böse, Im blaue Dunst: eine Klutrgeschichte des Rauchens. I have provided a (very) rough translation.

Consider one might the fleeting smoke,
Indeed, as Christians we ought consider
Just like we also should invoke
That time and hours are here and hither
And though you as man may rise so high
To be the greatest on our earthly sojourn,
So must your body's end draw nigh
And like tobacco--you--to ashes turn.

Christoph Weißenborn (1699-1731)

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