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Roll of Honour
Vinod Anand | 09 Sep 2011

In the preface to his Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth once described poetry as emotion recollected in tranquility.

IN THE preface to his Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth once described poetry as emotion recollected in tranquility. German toilet-paper manufacturer Georges Hemmerstoffer's adaptation of this could be defined as "motion recollected in tranquility".

His company; KIo-Verlag, has started printing poems by renowned writers like Heinrich Heine and Christian Morgenstern on rolls of toilet paper. Those who like to read in the toilet need no longer carry newspapers and books with them. Hemmers offer is also printing detective stories on toilet rolls. Each text is printed more than once so that the next visitor does not miss out on the yarn even if the previous roll has been read and used. "We want our books to be read. That's our philosophy;" Hemmerstoffer told Reuters while elaborating on his objective of ensuring that KIo-Verlag consumers get exposed to good writing at the start of the day.

While many of Heine's poems -including the Book of Songs lyrics inspired by his cousins Amalie and Therese -have been set to music by composers like Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Wagner, Hemmerstoffer has not yet come up with audio-cassettes which can also be used as toilet paper. KIo-Verlag would have printed not just Heine's poignant love lyrics but also his more ironic verse from Gedichte since some toilet-goers might prefer less romance and more realism while on the job. When Goethe wrote, "Modern poets mix too much water with their ink", he. could not have anticipated that KIo-Verlag would replace water with toilet paper verse. However, too much ink on KIo-Verlag's product could cause problems, especially if it is of the indelible variety. The toilet-goer might be unaware that some of the finest verse of Heine and Morgenstern has left an indelible mark not just on posterity but on his or her posterior, even if it has to be read the other way.