in a strange language...

Hilde Domin


The mouth dying
The mouth twisted
The mouth trying
to say the word right
in a strange language.


Else Lasker-Schüler

My Blue Piano

At home I have a blue piano.
But I can’t play a note.

It’s been in the shadow of the cellar door
Ever since the world went rotten.

Four starry hands play harmonies.
The Woman in the Moon sang in her boat.
Now only rats dance to the clanks.

The keyboard is in bits.
I weep for what is blue. Is dead.

Sweet angels, I have eaten
Such bitter bread. Push open
The door of heaven. For me, for now—

Although I am still alive—
Although it is not allowed.

         (Trans. Eavan Boland)

                – from After Every War, E. Boland ,ed.


Two devastating poems about the ravaged scale of war – and what remains. These works carry the reader into that haunting and silent place where words are not possible.


Pris said...

Wow. These sock a punch!

James Owens said...

This speaking against silence, the struggle to say what is not allowed (or even possible), is so important to German poetry. After Every War is one of the best books of translation we've had for a long time, and it is long overdue that poets like Domin and Lasker-Schuler are coming to the attention of American readers. I think these two poems are well chosen to represent the book.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the read, Pris.

And James, I agree with you completely about After Every War. An astounding collection. Thanks for reading.

SarahJane said...

Nice translation of the Lasker-Schüler.
Last year I saw a German documentary of Hilde Domin's life - sad and interesting. I like her poem about Abel, if you know that one. Enjoyed this one, too.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

I do know the poem. Good one. Thanks for reading, Sarah Jane.

Pamela said...

I tried translating that Lasker-Schuller poem. After Every War really inspired me to try that. Thanks for the post!

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the visit and read, Pamela.