All The Countries Are Ready

All the countries are ready
To rise up
From the map
To shake off their star-stained skins
To fasten the blue bundle
Of their oceans on their backs
To cover their smoky hair
With their fire-rooted mountain-caps.

Ready to take along in their knapsacks
The last ounce of melancholy
That chrysalis whose butterfly wings
Will one day bear them
To their journey’s end.

 

Bereit sind alle Länder aufzustehen
von der Landkarte.
Abzuschütteln ihre Sternenhaut
die blauen Bündel ihrer Meere
auf dem Rücken zu knüpfen
ihre Berge mit den Feuerwurzeln
als Mützen auf die rauchenden Haare zu setzen.

Bereit das letzte Schwermutgewicht
im Koffer zu tragen, diese Schmetterlingspuppe,
auf deren Flugel sie die Reise einmal
beenden werden.

There Was One Who Blew The Shofar

There was One
who blew the shofar –
throwing back his head
as the deer do, like the stags,
before they drink from the spring.
Blows:
tekia
death exits in a sigh –
shevarim
scattered seed falls –
terua
the air tells of a light!
The earth revolves and the stars revolve
in the shofar
that One blows –
and around the shofar the temple burns –
and One blows –
and around the shofar the temple crumbles –
and One blows –
and around the shofar the ash settles –
and One blows –

Einer war
Der blies den Schofar –
Warf nach hinten das Haupt,
Wie die Rehe tun, wie die Hirsche
Bevor sie trinken an der Quelle.
Bläst:
Tekia
Ausfährt der Tod im Seufzer –
Schewarim
Das Samenkorn fällt –
Terua
Die Luft erzählt von einem Licht!
Die Erde kreist und die Gestirne kreisen
Im Schofar,
Den Einer bläst –
Und um den Schofar brennt der Tempel –
Und Einer bläst –
Und um den Schofar stürzt der Tempel –
Und Einer bläst –
Und um den Schofar ruht die Asche –
Und Einer bläst –

Comment:

Shofar: The ram’s horn used in commemoration of the sacrifice of Isaac by the Hebrews. The last moment before Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac, a ram caught in a thicket was used as a substitute sacrifice. To honor the ram, Jews use a ram’s horn at religious services. 

Horns from cows were rejected because these animals were associated with the worship of the golden calf by the Children of Israel in the desert, a sin vigorously condemned by Moses. 

Originally, the blowing of the shofar was a Temple ritual; it later became a Synagogue ritual. According to the Mishna, two different forms of shofar were used in the Temple: one made of Ibex horn and sounded at New Year’s and during Yovel Days; one made of ram’s horn, and sounded on fast days. In earliest times the shofar was used as a musical instrument. Its most important uses as described in the Bible were to intimidate the enemy, to declare war, and to call the populace to assembly. Apart from its liturgical uses the shofar was closely connected with magical symbolism. Its blast destroyed the walls of Jericho, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls we read that during battles, shofar blowers sounded a powerful war cry to instil fear into the hearts of the enemy while priests blew the “six trumpets of killing”. 

Historically the shofar was used during rites to bring rain and used in the event of local disasters. In modern times its liturgical use is restricted to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

There are three sound patterns established for blowing the shofar: tekia, terua, and shevarim. Tekia is a long blast, terua is 9 staccato notes, and shevarim is 3 undulating or wavering sounds.

Already In The Arms

Already wrapped in the arms of heavenly solace
stands the demented mother
with the rags
of her tattered mind,
with the cinders of her burnt brain,
laying her dead child in its coffin,
laying her lost light in its coffin,
bending her hands to bowls,
filling them from the air with the body of her child,
filling them from the air with his eyes, his hair,
and his fluttering heart –

then kisses the air-birthed babe
and dies!

Schon vom Arm des himmlischen Trostes umfangen
Steht die wahnsinnige Mutter
Mit den Fetzten
ihres zerrissenen Verstandes,
Mit den Zundern ihres verbrannten Verstandes
Ihr totes Kind einsargend,
Ihr verlorenes Licht einsargend,
Ihre Hände zu Krügen biegend,
Aus der Luft füllend mit dem Leib ihres Kindes,
Aus der Luft füllend mit seinen Augen, seinen Haaren
Und seinem flatternden Herzen –

Dann küßt sie das Luftgeborene
Und stirbt!

White in the Clinic Gardens

DIGITAL CAMERA

I.

In the snow
the woman walks
holds behind her
tightly and wrongly clasped
branches in bud broken off
in secret
still under cover of night

Yet in her madness totally silent
in the snow
gazing around her with wide open
eyes where
from all sides nothingness
pours in –

But in deepest secret the faraway thing
in her hand
has started to move –

II.

The silence soaked in so many wounds
religion of the departed intercessors
still survives on martyrdom
ever new like the Spring –

Weiss im Krankenhauspark

I.

Im Schnee
die Frau geht

hält auf dem Rücken

umkrampft mit falschem Griff

ganz heimlich

abgebrochene Zweige mit Knospen

noch von Nacht verdeckt

Sie aber im Wahnsinn ganz still

im Schnee

um sich blickend und weit offen

die Augen wo

von allen Seiten das Nichts
einfährt − 

Aber sehr heimlich das Ferne

ist in ihrer Hand

in Bewegung geraten −

II.

Die Stille mit soviel Wunden getränkt

Religion der schon ausgefahrenen Beter

lebt noch vom Martyrium

immer neu wie Frühling −

Click here for the commentary on this poem by Ruth Kluger (in German)

Israel

Israel
flag crackling in salt,
and flight cut off
with the weeping sword of the sea
or
buried in the cold sweat of fear
against a wall,
smoking with the thirst of the hunt.

Flight, flight, flight,
flight meridians
linked
by broken lines of God-longing

Flight from the black-bled stars
of goodbye,
flight into the lightning-clad
hostels of madness,

Flight, flight, flight
into the fatal blow of flight
from the brief halt
on the shattered path of the bloodstream –

Flight

Flight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Israel,
knisternde Fahne im Salz,
und die Flucht abgeschnitten
mit des Meeres weinendem Schwert
oder
im Angstschweiß vergraben
an einer Mauer,
rauchend vor Jägerdurst.

Flucht, Flucht, Flucht,
Fluchtmeridiane
verbunden
mit Gott-Sehnsuchts-Strichen 

Flucht aus den schwarzgebluteten Gestirnen
des Abschieds,
Flucht in die blitztapezierten
Herbergen des Wahnsinns,

Flucht, Flucht, Flucht
in den Gnadenstoß der Flucht
aus der zersprengten Blutbahn
kurzer Haltestelle –

If Your Magic Spring

If your magic spring, Melusine,
had not the second ending of all fairytales
in heartache,
we would long ago have
passed into the petrified resurrection
of an Easter Island –

But when your Echo countenance,
strewn with the columbines of fatigue,
practises dying in the Sabbath gold,
our blood drinks remembrance
in a pre-existing
landscape
and in the lightly slumbering pre-birth
of the soul –

Deutsch: Julius Hübner 'Die schöne Melusine' 1844

Wenn nicht dein Brunnen

Wenn nicht dein Brunnen, Melusine,
aller Märchen zweiten Ausgang
im Herzeweh hätte,
längst wären wir
in die versteinerte Auferstehung
einer Osterinsel eingegangen −

Aber wenn dein Echoangesicht,
mit der Müdigkeiten Akelei bestreut,
Sterben übt im Sabbatgold,
trinkt unser Blut Erinnerung
in einer Landschaft,
die schon da gewesen,
und in der schlummerleichten Vorgeburt
der Seele −

Comment:

This very dense and difficult poem is analysed (in German) here by Doris Runge. The story of Melusine can be found here.

Translation challenges I have been unable to resolve:

-the ambiguity of the English word spring – but I still prefer it to source, fountain, well or any other equivalent to Brunnen. Hopefully, inserting the adjective  magic reduces the ambiguity without spoiling the overall feel.
– the ambiguity and the opposition of Ausgang / eingegangen, which I find impossible to reproduce in English.
– the weight of the plural in Müdigkeiten. Transferring the plural form to columbines is the coward’s way out. And I prefer  columbine to aquilegia because of the sound, in spite of associations in English that aren’t present in the German Akelei. 
– the onomatopoeic effects in the original poem.

Time Of The Chrysalis

Time of the chrysalis
Time of forgiveness
The decomposing, with their faces in the dust,
already feel the wing pains in their shoulders
Meridians racing on their star skin
The veins of yearning bleeding into the sea of transfiguration
The hearts of stars pounding
on the doors of lovers
who, with the rosaries of their mouths, keep praying
their bodies into the invisible landings of bliss –

Zeit der Verpuppung
Zeit der Vergebung
Verfallene mit dem Gesicht im Staub
verspüren schon den Schulternschmerz der Flügel
Wettlauf der Meridiane auf der Sternenhaut
Aderlaß der Sehnsucht ins Meer der Verklärung
Herzklopfen der Gestirne
an die Türen der Liebenden
die mit dem Rosenkranz ihrer Münder fortbeten
ihre Leiber in die unsichtbaren Landungen
der Seligkeiten –