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Showing posts from October, 2006

Ernst Jandl: Not a concrete pot

dingfest

auf einem stuhl
liegt ein hut.
beide
wissen voneinander
nichts.
beide
sind
so dingfest

thingsure

on a chair
lies a hat.
neither
knows anything
of the other.
both
are
so thingsure

Dedalus Press has re-issued Ernst Jandl’s Dingfest/Thingsure, a handsome dual language edition of the poet’s work with translations by Michael Hamburger, which replaces the volume originally published by the same publisher in 1997 as part of its Poetry Europe Series. The book collects the shorter poems of this wide-ranging experimental Austrian poet – a poet whose work, so embedded in the verbal possibilities of the German language, is often regarded as untranslatable. Here, for example, is his famous ‘ottos mops’ (otto’s pug), not included here, a poem which depends wholly on the different qualities of the sound of ‘o’ in German .


ottos mops

ottos mops trotzt
otto: fort mops fort
ottos mops hopst fort
otto: soso

otto holt koks
otto holt obst
otto horcht
otto: mops mops
otto hofft

ottos mops klopft
otto: komm m…

Goat song

Aleksander Wat and Czesław Miłosz


Aleksander Wat
(1900 – 1967)

To a Roman, My Friend

Everything that lies in rubble
reaches tenderly at me:
the ruins of my Warsaw
the ruins of your Rome.

In April ’forty-six
I saw two old goats
searching for some special herbs
in the former Albrecht’s Café
(now overgrown with nettles,
thistles, burdock, spear grass).
Their barefoot shepherdess
in graveyard stillness
stood gaping, a child, under a pathetic column that once adorned
     the fourth floor
                                of the Credit Society building,
where then it was just a fancy ornament
changed today into an orphaned pendicle
on a fragment of charred wall.

On the Aventino I met two goats, roamers of ruins,
and a barefoot shepherdess
staring at faded frescoes.

Thus after man’s glory,
after his acts and disasters
goats arrive. Smelly,
comic and worthy goats
to search among remnants of glory
for medicinal herbs and forage
for earthly nourishment.

Translated from the Polish by Czesław Mi…