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The Two-Way
5:12 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

From Our Readers: Germany's Forest Boy, A Second Act?

"Joseph Erhardt" writes that the appearance and enigmatic identity of Germany's "Forest Boy" reminds him of the tale of Kaspar Hauser, who appeared in Nuremberg in the spring of 1828 with a very odd story as to his origins.

At the time, Hauser's claims that he was raised in an isolated cell by a man whose face he never saw stimulated much public debate and hypothesis.

Famed French poet Paul Verlaine was inspired to write a poem about the mysterious young man, and included it in his volume Sagesse (1881):

Kaspar Hauser Sings:

A quiet orphan, I came forth,

rich only in my tranquil eyes,
to men of the great towns of earth:
they've found me neither shrewd nor wise.

When I was twenty a new care,
the flames of love, set me aglow,
and I thought every woman fair:
but they have not found me so.

Although not being brave at all,
with neither king nor country, I
yet wished in some great war to die:
but death passed up a thing so small.

Born too early or too late,
what have I on earth to do?
My misery is deep and great:
pray for poor Kaspar, all of you!

(translated by C. F. MacIntyre)

Hauser died of a stabbing wound in 1833, but directed authorities towards a pouch at the scene of the crime. Inside was a note, allegedly from Hauser's early caretaker, yet curiously folded exactly as Hauser was known to fold his notes.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.