I’d laugh until my sides hurt.

Hans was undoubtedly the smartest person I ever knew. He was also so funny, he’d have me laughing out loud until my sides hurt.

In going through my papers and throwing out thousands (honestly) I came across this poem of his and couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

Hans came from Vienna as a young adult, where he spoke German and another local dialect. He said other languages were easy because he’d studied Latin at school and Latin is the root of so many languages. But I think it was much more than that. I hope you enjoy this playful poem he wrote about English.


by Hans Muller

Hans could and did read several languages

All of us languish
with speech induced anguish
and parsing our sentences
gives rise to repentences.
Hence using the vernacular
looms as positively Dracular.

Much joy to many gives
The usage of genitives
and even a native
can have fun with a dative.
Then why do brains turn into sieves
when confronted with accusatives?

Hans on one of our ‘motor’ trips which we thoroughly enjoyed

Is it HE or HIM, is it ME or I,
WE or US, SHE or HER — and why?
or are they the same — no, not quite.
When I go to bed, do I LAY or LIE?
Did they LEARN me wrong
or should it be TEACH?
I’ve got doctorates in English and Speech.

Aren’t the schools rich
in certified rules which
prescribe things grammatical?
Do I seem fanatical
if I declare that I’m aghast
finding ignorance so deep, so vast.


If the abusive
of mother-tongue usage
prevails incontestably
and quite indigestibly.
I’m asking with unceasing awe:
Ain’t lingocide against the law?

I get jittery and tlnglish
speaking so-called good English,
The King’s, the Queen’s or the Bard’s
For me that is not in the cards.
What the heck — WHOM or WHO,
why don’t I just do
what Tom and Dick and Harry can,
talking simple North American.


14 thoughts on “WHO’S ASKING WHO?

  1. I hope you manage to show some photos of Hans. He was as handsome as he was brilliant and hilarious — an unforgettable man! What was it you told me about what he said when you told him he was arrogant? Something like, “Of course I am, and who has better reason?’

    • I don’t know why I couldn’t print the photos. I scanned them into my computer but they wouldn’t copy into my blog. I’ll try again later. Yup! Hans was very self-confident and it made him easy to deal with — plus he was very funny. Thanks for reading Susan, love, Maughm

    • Yes Selma, I am grateful for have had him in my life. In reading through oodles of letters from him, I find myself chuckling again and again. He was brilliant AND really funny. Thanks for reading. Stay well, Muriel

  2. Love this. It’s absolutely wonderful. Wish I’d written or at the very least had it when I taught English (ms, hs, college). What fun it would have brought (really “wrought” in honor of Hans). Can see why you feel blessed and thought so highly of him. Thanks for sharing.

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