german

Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956) was a German playwright and poet. A dedicated Marxist, Brecht is perhaps best known for helping to develop the theatrical movement known as epic theater, which considered the stage a medium for exploring political ideas and dialectical materialism. Over his lifetime, Brecht wrote two books of fiction, multiple theoretical works on theatre, over fifty plays, and hundreds of poems. He composed “Vom ertrunkenen Mädchen” [Of the Drowned Girl] after the brutal murder of revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg during the Spartacist Uprising of 1919.

 

R.C. Neighbors

R.C. Neighbors is a sixth-generation Oklahoman and current resident of the strange land of Texas. He has studied literature at the University of Arkansas and screenwriting at Hollins University, and he currently serves as a PhD candidate at Texas A&M University with emphases in creative writing and the Native American South. He hopes to leave Texas very, very soon. His work has appeared in Tampa Review, Barely South Review, Red Earth Review, Parody, and elsewhere.

 

 

The Panther

english translation

The Panther

original German poem

Der Panther

                   Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt. 

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

 

Tony Barnstone

Tony Barnstone is The Albert Upton Professor and Chair of English at Whittier College and author of fifteen books and a music CD, Tokyo’s Burning: WWII Songs. His poetry books include Beast in the Apartment, Tongue of War: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, The Golem of Los Angeles, Sad Jazz: Sonnets, Impure, and selected poems in Spanish, Buda en Llamas: Antología poética (1999-2012). He is also a distinguished translator of Chinese literature, and he dabbles in other languages.

 

Amen

english translation

Amen

original German poem

Amen

Verwestes gleitend durch die morsche Stube;
            Schatten an gelben Tapeten; in dunklen Spiegeln wölbt
            Sich unserer Hände elfenbeinerne Traurigkeit.
Braune Perlen rinnen durch die erstorbenen Finger.
            In der Stille
            Tun sich eines Engels blaue Mohnaugen auf.
Blau ist auch der Abend;
            Die Stunde unseres Absterbens, Azraels Schatten,
            Der ein braunes Gärtchen verdunkelt.

 

Evening Thunderstorm

english translation

Evening Thunderstorm

original German poem

Der Gewitterabend

O die roten Abendstunden!
Flimmernd schwankt am offenen Fenster
Weinlaub wirr ins Blau gewunden,
Drinnen nisten Angstgespenster.

Staub tanzt im Gestank der Gossen.
Klirrend stößt der Wind in Scheiben.
Einen Zug von wilden Rossen
Blitze grelle Wolken treiben,

Laut zerspringt der Weiherspiegel.
Möven schrein am Fensterrahmen.
Feuerreiter sprengt vom Hügel
Und zerschellt im Tann zu Flammen.

Kranke kreischen im Spitale.
Bläulich schwirrt der Nacht Gefieder.
Glitzernd braust mit einem Male
Regen auf die Dächer nieder.

 

Georg Trakl

Georg Trakl (1887 – 1914) was born in Salzburg, Austria, and seems to have been suicidal in childhood. As an extremely young child, he threw himself first in front of a galloping horse and then in front of a train. When both of those suicide attempts failed, he tried drowning himself in a lake and was rescued only when someone noticed his hat floating away. His adolescence and adulthood were marked by bouts of serious mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, a supposed incestuous relationship with his sister, and near-constant failure.

 

The Rats

english translation

The Rats

original German poem

Die Ratten

In Hof scheint weiß der herbstliche Mond.
Vom Dachrand fallen phantastische Schatten.
Ein Schweigen in leeren Fenstern wohnt;
Da tauchen leise herauf die Ratten

Und huschen pfeifend hier und dort
Und ein gräulicher Dunsthauch wittert
Ihnen nach aus dem Abort,
Den geisterhaft der Mondschein durchzittert

Und sie keifen vor Gier wie toll
Und erfüllen Haus und Scheunen,
Die von Korn und Früchten voll.
Eisige Winde im Dunkel greinen.

 

Jay Hopler

Jay Hopler’s poetry, essays, and translations have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation, Interim, Plume, and The Literary Review. Green Squall, his first book of poetry, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His most recent book is Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (edited with Kimberly Johnson, Yale University Press, 2013). The recipient of numerous honors including fellowships and awards from the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the Lannan Foundation, the Mrs.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926) born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, understood the power of words. At a lover’s urging, he changed his name to Rainer, which he thought sounded more masculine. He is probably the best-known 20th-century German-language poet, best known for his Duino Elegies, his Sonnets to Orpheus, and his New Poems. In the Duino Elegies—his most important work—and his other poems, Rilke combined knowledge of classical literature with a mystical sense of existence and religion.

 

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