Sunday, May 11, 2014



Meditar en el origen de la verdad:
sus raíces envueltas en arena,
su huella,
el movimiento medible del aire,
cuando llegó como pájaro.

Conocimientos gracias al Pervitin (1)
reunidos para la partida con las golondrinas.
¡Fuera, fuera, en la noche y sobre la montaña!

Otros, señales de picapedreros en el follaje,
sólo comprensibles en el sueño
e idénticos a las bromas de las abuelas.
Cierra los ojos:
lo que entonces ves
te pertenece.

(1) Droga de efectos similares a las anfetaminas (N.del T.)

Günter Eich

(Traducción de Rodolfo Modern)


Die Herkunft der warheit bedenken:
ihre mit Sand behafteten Wurzeln,
ihre Fusspur,
die messbare Bewegung der Luft,
wenn sie als Vogel kam.

Einschten aus Previtin,
zum Abflug gesammelt mit den Schwalben.
Fort, fort, in den Abend und übers Gebirge!

Andere, Steinmetzzeichen im Laub,
nur begreiflich dem Schlafe
und eins mit den Scherzen der Grossmütter:
Mach die Augen zu,
was du dann siehst,
gehört dir.

(Lebus, 1907-Salzburgo, 1972) Escritor alemán. Estudió derecho y lenguas orientales. Notable por su producción lírica, sus libros más importantes son Poemas (1930), Mensajes de la lluvia (1955) y Ocasiones y jardines de piedra (1966). Escribió piezas para radio (Las muchachas de Viterbo, 1952) y relatos humorísticos.

The Spanner in the Works

Posted By brb On March 30, 2011 @ 7:03 pm In Literature & Criticism,Poetry | Comments Disabled
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by Axel Vieregg
Günter Eich (Photo by Hilde Zemann; used with kind permission of the copyright holder, H. Mulzer)
At last a major portion of the poetry of Günter Eich (1907 – 1972) has been made accessible to an English-speaking readership in a new translation. Angina Days is the title that Michael Hofmann, the translator and himself an acclaimed poet, gave to his selection, quoting a line from one of Eich’s poems. Eich would have enjoyed the ambiguity: “Angina”, in German, is a harmless tonsillitis, and so it is in the poem, while in English it is a critical heart disease. On another  level, the difficulty any translator of poetry has with rendering not just words but also meaning is, in this instance, resolved: “Angina” is a cognate of “Angst” – and that is a feeling which pervades much of Eich’s work.
In an interview of 1964 Eich stated that his main concern had been to “make suffering visible”, to prevent it from being overlooked. He had had high hopes after the end of the war in 1945 that a better world would rise from the ashes. His famous Inventur (Inventory), written when he was still in an American P.O.W. camp on the banks of the Rhine ranks as one of the most striking examples of that spirit of “Zero Hour”, which saw in a radical break with tradition the precondition of a new beginning. Defiantly, the poem lists the writer’s building blocks, his most basic possessions:
This is my cap,
my coat,
my shaving kit
in the burlap bag.
This tin can:
my plate and my cup.
I scratched my name
in the soft metal.
Scratched it
with this precious nail,
which I keep out of sight
of thieving eyes. [...]
The pencil lead
is my favourite:
by day it writes out lines
that come to me at night.
This is my notebook,
this is my canvas,
my towel,
my thread.
Language is here pared back to the minimum, rhyme and conventional poetic vocabulary have disappeared. The poem culminates in the utensils of the craft of the writer, “pencil lead” and “notebook” as if to say: Mind will triumph over matter. The pen will be mightier than the sword.
Michael Hofmann’s judicious selection allows the reader to follow Eich’s development as a poet in detail. It is a journey which accompanies and reflects upon the personal, political and social issues of his time, the Cold War, rearmament, the German “Economic Miracle”, the  Vietnam War, the suffering of the poor and oppressed. It is also an inner journey which was going to lead Eich far away from his earlier beginnings. Needless to say that the optimism expressed in Inventur was not going to last.
In his poetry Eich hardly ever addresses issues directly. Rather, they seem to loom behind his texts, affecting imagery, mood and tone – one of the characteristics that make Eich’s later texts seemingly enigmatic. That is a challenge, and in most cases Michael Hofmann has met it admirably. Fluid and succinct, his translations catch Eich’s dry and laconic sound extremely well. Problems, however, arise when subtleties are overlooked, or when the nature of the text is such that an adequate rendering into readable English is well-nigh impossible.   
What follows here is therefore not intended as a critique, but as annotations and footnotes  meant to clarify some of Eich’s major concerns. Too awkward in a handsome volume of poetry, they seem to me nevertheless required in order to shed additional light on the work of one of the leading poets of post-war Germany, who has been “unjustly neglected in English”, as Hofmann rightly says.
Older Germans will remember the hours they spent listening to their valve radios when a new radio play by Günter Eich was broadcast at primetime. In the 1950s, television, in both East and West Germany, was still a novelty and few people owned a set. Radio plays provided the sounds that entered the mind more deeply and affected it more personally than any TV image ever could. Voices became inner voices, dramatic conflicts became inner conflicts. The medium suited Eich ideally: “I perceive the world through the ear rather than through the eye”, he once said, and his probing, questioning and searching enquiry into ever elusive certainties and realities made for an enthralling radio experience.
Eich’s approach was also ideally suited for the early post-war period. There was in Germany, at a time when the  Cold War was looming and before the  “economic miracle” began  benefiting the individual, an all-pervading sense of unease, of Angst  (Eich uses the word repeatedly). There was an awareness of loss: the loss of lives, of property, of beliefs and old certainties, even of self-worth. There was also an underlying feeling of guilt, mostly unacknowledged and hidden under self-pity, complacency and – almost frenzied – efforts to rebuild one’s own life, home, and self-respect. Eich saw through such efforts, exposed the unease and underlying guilt, but, first and foremost, he called for vigilance to avoid a relapse into an unfeeling barbarism.
The point of departure – and often it is an actual departure – of his “classic radio plays (1950 – 1958) is the sudden loss of the security of empirical reality. Träume – “Dreams”- is the characteristic title of the first of his great post-war radio-plays (1950). It hit the German radio audience like a bombshell and drew furious responses from many listeners who wanted to be entertained rather than disconcerted.
In “Dreams” Eich describes our waking state as a sleep “into which we have all been lulled” while to dream means in fact to awaken in the true reality. The listener is confronted with five endgames, each located in a different continent and hence universal. They are parables of man’s bleak existential situation, recognised with terror in the dream, but immediately forgotten on awakening. The play ends with the ever louder gnawing sound of termites and the crumbling to dust of a world where “the ground on which we stand is just a thin skin, everything is hollow inside.”
Eich then adds a coda which became famous as a poem in its own right (translation Hofmann, my own closer reading in square brackets):
Wake up, your dreams are bad! Stay awake, the nightmarishness [horror] is coming nearer.
To you it is coming, though you live far from the places of bloodshed. [...]
No, don’t sleep while the governors of the world are busy!
Be suspicious of the power they claim to have to acquire on your behalf!
Do what is unhelpful [what cannot be used], sing songs from out of your mouths that go against expectation [those songs they don’t expect to hear from your mouths]!
Be ornery [Be obstreperous], be as sand, not oil in the thirsty machinery of the world!
Or: “Gum up the works” as Hofmann himself suggests, in his introduction, as an alternative rendering of Eich’s ringing appeal: “seid Sand, nicht Öl im Getriebe der Welt!” – “be the spanner in the works” would be the closest idiomatic equivalent of the German saying. A clear understanding of these lines is important. Because it is from here that Eich’s concerns, his motives and motifs, as well as his imagery can best be traced.
Few people recognised at the time to what extent the appeal owed its intensity to Eich’s very own and very personal feelings of guilt. Not until the 1980s, through the investigations of Glenn R. Cuomo in the United States and those by Hans Dieter Schäfer and Wolfram Wessels in Germany, did it become apparent that Eich had indeed been “oil in the machinery” of Hitler’s Third Reich. The 1991 edition of his Collected Works, as well his correspondence which had by then become accessible, could confirm that, with over 160 contributions to the Nazi broadcasting system, which culminated in the 1940 anti-British propaganda play Die Rebellion in der Goldstadt, Eich had been one of the most prolific and popular radio authors of the Third Reich. He was no follower of the regime, but, as the title of Cuomo’s investigation Career at the Cost of Compromise suggests and his investigation then shows, had certainly not sung songs “which go against expectations”. His ”songs” had met them rather: numerous pieces of light, folksy entertainment, as demanded by the authorities, precisely to “lull” the German audience “asleep”. His assertion, in his CV of 1946 or 47, which Hofmann quotes, that in the previous “ten years I did not write a line” (i.e. of poetry, but that, too, is not strictly correct) rings hollow. 
While Eich never revealed his involvement in Third Reich broadcasting openly and in plain prose, much of his post-war production reflects his attempt to come to terms with the past, to distance himself from it, to warn against gullibility and to draw the moral and aesthetic consequences. Fallibility and awakening, guilt and atonement, the appeal to recognise and to mitigate suffering, self-sacrifice in the service of others – these then become the dominant themes. Despair that so little has been learnt, indeed that Creation itself is deeply flawed, characterises the work of his final years.
A poem written in 1961 and dedicated to the Jewish (!) poet and Nobel-Prize winner Nelly Sachs comes closest to a confession. It also clearly develops Eich’s aims as a writer:
Game Paths
for Nelly Sachs
Don’t mention the hunters!
I sat by their fires,
I understood their language.
They know the world from the beginning
and do not question the woods.
You nod to their answers,
the smoke of their fires, too, affirms them,
and they are practiced
not to hear the scream
which annuls all world orders.
No, we want to be alien
and be astounded at death,
collect the breaths of the uncomforted,
cut across the tracks
and deflect the barrels of the rifles.
(translation A.V.)
It is hardly necessary to consult Nelly Sachs’ poetry for the numerous inter-textual references Eich makes to recognise what is meant by the hunters, their game, their fires, by the smoke. Michael Hofmann, in his introduction, talks about Eich’s many “gestures of refusal”: “Eich affirms one of the most ancient human freedoms, that of saying ‘no’”. This poem, which Hofmann does not include, could have served as an illustration.
There are other, oblique references which Eich makes to his past. The shortest is a three-line poem where the “gesture of refusal”, the rejection of any demands made on him is dialectically linked to his early entrapment. Unfortunately, due to the impossibility of rendering the ambiguity in English, the reference is lost. Michael Hofmann translates:
Thank you, but leave us.
We have already been to the caves
of the rat catchers.
Whereas Eich really says: “Long ago we had already been inside the caves / of the Pied Pipers”, (“in den Höhlen der Rattenfänger“). It is a “Once bitten twice shy”, or, as the equivalent German saying goes: “Gebranntes Kind scheut das Feuer”, a burnt child shies away from the fire. That is the meaning of “the burnt children” – “die gebrannten Kinder” – in the poem Brothers Grimm, an allusion which the literal translation in Angina Days also cannot convey. German 20th ct. history is indeed a Grim(m) fairy tale!
Increasingly, Eich developed a cryptic, hieroglyphic style of writing. “Templates for meditation” he called his late texts. The reader is sent on a quest for meaning – through empathy, through following cross references and deciphering key words, through unravelling plays on words. This presents a daunting challenge to any translator. Michael Hofmann translates the last lines of Bestellung (Order) as follows:
hurry up and serve the dishes
that don’t exist,
and uncork the marvels!
Then we won’t mind
opening our mouths
and paying what we owe.
Lost in this translation is Eich’s play on words in the last line, and lost with it is the theme of the poem: “was wir schuldig sind” translates not just as “what we owe” but as “for what we are guilty of”. Currency is the obolus for Charon: “the penny under the tongue”. An early draft of the poem underscores the context of guilt and atonement. One of the “marvels” the speaker wants “uncorked” is a “brandy distilled from tears”.  A similar constellation occurs in the earlier poem Andenken, (Memorial). While the fires are out, their smoke still lingers: “The wind is full of black dust. / It scours the names off the gravestones / and etches in ours / on this day today” – and not “etches this day into us” as Michael Hofmann translates.
Eich’s “gestures of refusal” focus on the opposition to all forms of “Einverständnis”, i.e. agreement, acceptance, assent and affirmation. In Dreams and in its coda, or in Wildwechsel, the emphatic “no” can be understood as a largely political and social protest. Gradually, however, Eich’s rejection of any “establishment” widens into an all-embracing existential revolt, a revolt against God: “I am mad at the establishment, not just the political, but the establishment of Creation”, he said in 1970 in an interview with students from a Berlin High School. Or again in 1971, a year before his death: “Today I no longer accept nature: even although it is unalterable. I am against acceptance [das Einverständnis] of things in Creation. It is always the same thought process: acceptance no longer [das Nichtmehr-einverstandensein].”
Such a rejection of consent calls for persistent questioning, for a rejection of “answers” to which one simply “nods”, as in Wildwechsel.  “With my verse I raise questions. My faith in answers is minimal, my agreement [Einverständnis] is lacking.” The ultimate question for Eich is that which, with the black humour so characteristic of his late work, he calls the “Schlupfwespenfrage (I, 341), i.e. the “ichneumon-question”. It is, of course, the age-old philosophical problem of theodicy, the question why God allows evil and suffering to exist. A passage from the project of a requiem (1957) which remained unpublished during Eich’s lifetime illustrates what is meant:
[...] you can add Creation,
tally-ho and feast of slaughter,
the mouse between the teeth of the cat,
eggs of the ichneumon
in the paralysed body of the caterpillar,
the harmony of horror…
The ichneumon-fly with its sting paralyses the caterpillar, lays its eggs into its body, which is then eaten alive by the larvae. That, for Eich, made Creation a scandal. Such is the scandal that it makes even the dead stir in protest: “the shaking of the gravestones / when the caterpillar arches under the paralysing sting” (Two in the Afternoon). But this is not what the reader finds in Angina Days. Michael Hofmann’s translation fails to evoke the significance of this central concept of Eich’s, and so the line reads instead: “the crippled caterpillar wriggles” – which eliminates the sting, and with it the ichneumon-fly.
Such a scandalous state of the world convinced Eich that any seeming harmony and beauty in nature were just a thin veneer, a ploy even, to make us acquiesce, so as to obtain our “Einverständnis” with the world as it is: “In the evenings / the sunsets are intended to reassure you”, he wrote already in 1955. In his late subversive prose pieces, the Maulwürfe (“moles”, because they undermine all accepted tenets), Eich revisits his themes in a self-mocking theatre of the absurd. In Hausgenossen (“Flat Mates”) “Mother Nature” enters, her mouth smeared with blood, and proudly displays her latest model: “Here, the praying mantis. While his abdomen copulates with her, she gobbles up his thorax. Yuck, mama, I say, you are unappetising. But the sunsets, she giggles.”
In Michael Hofmann’s selection all these aspects are present, but, unfortunately, his translations frequently obscure or ignore them. In Poor Sunday he gives a splendid English rendering of Eich’s mocking picture of the good citizens, all dressed up for their Sunday outing: “it’s hoist all sails and nipples / erect and health here we come.” Basking in self-satisfaction it is their hour: “hour of the magnificent” (“Stunde der Prächtigen”), and one might well hear an echo of “Lorenzo der Prächtige”, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Medici banker. (Before the advent of leisure-wear, conservative Germans used to don their “Sunday Best” – “hoist all sails” – for a stroll through the park; that was then to become designer sportswear.) These are the yes-men, those who have all the answers. But Hofmann translates the line as “hour of splendor” and so the people and the allusions disappear. For Eich, after all, it is but a “poor Sunday”. He mocks the show of wealth and jollity which cannot hide the existential void, nor can the beauty of nature, in this case that of the “sycamore glades”. Their “abgekartete Schönheit” does not translate as “hand-me-down beauties”, as Hofmann has it, but as a beauty “rigged”, a beauty “connived”. Consequently, a useless reject, it can now be consigned to “the museum of consolations” [where] “the drooling sun / points at the merry dust.” Dust to dust – it is a poem about the vanity of all things, a mockery of all solace.
There is a similar derision in Ohne Unterschrift where Eich does list “The answers: caterpillars under the bark / of felled poplars [...] // A world order of cut flowers / and the pleasing line of forest edges. [...] // no more questions now, assent [Einverständnis]…” But, with the caterpillars, the ichneumon is not far. These answers are not his answers: he refuses to subscribe to such cheap and naive satisfaction. The title translates as Unsigned. Rather, these answers are those of “my enemies / with their assent”, as he says in Zwei [Two]: “die Feinde / mit ihrem Einverständnis.” Here, however, Michael Hofmann translates: “with their common purpose”. Consistency is lost and with it a central element of Eich’s thinking.
Eich’s late work is steeped in utter pessimism: “Vain the cruel hope / that the screams of the tortured / might pave the way for a brighter future” (Topography of a Better World). Vain also – Eich had come to realise – was any hope that his writing, intended “to make suffering visible”, could have any consequences. The optimism expressed in the Inventory of 1945 is refuted in a poem from 1966, not included by Hofmann. The similarity of its minimalism makes it almost look like a companion piece, but this time it is a balance sheet – with nothing under the bottom line:
Fewer goals
and smaller,
rice-grain sized.
Not lavish,
most things
in meditations.
Already suited
for poverty and
Brief screams still
across the tarmac,
Told or
and rice-grain sized.
(Translation A.V.)
The “screams” of the suffering which Eich wanted his readers to hear in so many of his texts (cf. Game Paths) still re-echo, but whether “told or untold”, it makes no difference. By now, Eich had reached his ultimate position: that of the Oriental sage, withdrawn into his “rock garden”, meditating over a grain of rice: “I have been here / and here / I could have / gone there too, or stayed at home. / You can understand the world / without leaving home. / I encountered Lao Tse / before I met Marx.[...]”. (Delayed, from Occasions and Rock Gardens) Eich had indeed studied Sinology.
The “meditations” are reflected and passed on in what became Eich’s final literary triumph, the anarchic short prose texts of his “Moles”, “Maulwürfe”, most of them still waiting to be translated into English. They are cackling deconstructions of any form of “Einverständnis”, of acceptance, including that of logic and grammar, a rejection of and reduction to absurdity of a world gone awry. A poem written shortly before Eich´s death, and definitively rendered by Michael Hofmannn, points the way:
Fog fog fog,
in my ears, a
and Raissa’s sweet laugh.
Experience tells
what belongs with what
what belongs with and,
only with and.
No rationale.
It will last
as long as the and doesn’t
slip my mind like the other words.
It’s enough, thanks, it’s plenty.
Günter Eich: Angina Days. Selected Poems
Translated and introduced by Michael Hofmann
Princeton University Press, Princeton 2010.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4008-3434-1
Cloth, 216 pages, US$24.95
Axel Vieregg has written extensively on  Günter Eich and edited Vols. I and IV of his Gesammelte Werke (Collected Works), 1991. He lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand, where he was a professor of German literature at Massey University.
(c) 2011 The Berlin Review of Books.

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Game Paths by Günther Eich

A poem written in 1961 and dedicated to the Jewish (!) poet and Nobel-Prize winner Nelly Sachs comes closest to a confession. It also clearly develops Eich’s aims as a writer:

Game Paths

for Nelly Sachs

Don’t mention the hunters!
I sat by their fires,
I understood their language.
They know the world from the beginning
and do not question the woods.
You nod to their answers,
the smoke of their fires, too, affirms them,
and they are practiced
not to hear the scream
which annuls all world orders.

No, we want to be alien
and be astounded at death,
collect the breaths of the uncomforted,
cut across the tracks
and deflect the barrels of the rifles.

(translation Axel Vieregg)

After World War II the German language, distorted by propaganda and shattered by lies, seemed lost as a vehicle for literary expression. It was Gunter Eich, a soldier and prisoner of war, who most of all among his generation began to resurrect his native tongue as a language for poetry. He accomplished this through an honesty and simplicity that developed into increasingly complex poetic structures and the prose poems, "moles," of his old age.
This volume, published in 1981, was the first to bring Germany's most important postwar poet to the attention of English-speaking readers. It belongs in the library of anyone who cares about modern and postmodern poetry.

And let the snow
come through the door-cracks,
the wind blows, that's his job.
And let Lena be forgotten,
the girl who drank
the spirits from the lamp.
Went into the il-
lustrations of Meyer's Lexicon,
Brehm's Wildlife.
Intestines, mountainranges, beach carrion,
and let the snow
come through the door-cracks
up to the bed, up to the spleen,
where the memory sits,
where Lena sits,
the leopard, the feverish gull,
arithmetic puzzles in yellow
wrappers, by subscription.
And let the wind blow
because that's all he can do
and don't begrudge Lena
one more swig from the lamp
and let the snow
come through the door-cracks.

--Gunter Eich
translated by David Young

Copyright c 1981 by Oberlin College. May not be reproduced without permission.

La Letrina por Günter Eich y mucho más

“Sobre fosas malolientes,
papel con sangre y orina,
entre moscas que refulgen,
me acuclillo en la letrina

viendo una orilla boscosa,
huertas, varado un lanchón.
En el fango putrefacto
cae a plomo un cagajón.

Resuenan en mis oídos
los versos de Hölderlin.
Se reflejan, nieve pura,
las nubes en este orín”

Ve, pues, ahora, y saluda
al hermoso Garona
bajo los pies vacilantes
nadan las nubes...

Pero bueno, lo dije antes de transcribir el poema, esto es algo que nada más puede permitírselo un gran poeta, y Günter Eich lo fue.

Günter Eich | Latrine [escuchar]

Über stinkendem Graben,
Papier voll Blut und Urin,
umschwirrt von funkelnden Fliegen,
hocke ich in den Knien,

den Blick auf bewaldete Ufer,
Gärten, gestrandetes Boot.
In den Schlamm der Verwesung
klatscht der versteinte Kot.

Irr mir im Ohre schallen
Verse von Hölderlin.
In schneeiger Reinheit spiegeln
Wolken sich im Urin.

Geh aber nun und grüße
die schöne Garonne
Unter den schwankenden Füßen
schwimmen die Wolken davon.

"Cautela", de Günter Eich (Alemania, 1907-1972)

Los castaños florecen.
Tomo nota,
pero me abstengo de opinar.

Günter Eich, incluido en 21 poetas alemanes (Visor Libros, Madrid, 1980, selecc. y trad. de Felipe Boso).

Otros poemas de Günter Eich
Demasiado tarde para ser modestosInventario

"Demasiado tarde para ser modestos", de Günter Eich (Alemania, 1907-1972)

Habíamos puesto en orden la casa
y corrido las cortinas;
en el sótano teníamos provisiones suficientes,
carbón y fuelóleo,
y escondida en las arrugas de la cara
la muerte en ampollas.

Por el resquicio de la puerta vemos el mundo:
un gallo decapitado
que corre como loco por el patio.

Ha dado al traste con nuestras ilusiones.
Colgamos las sábanas de los balcones
y nos rendimos.

Günter Eich, incluido en 21 poetas alemanes (Visor Libros, Madrid, 1980, selecc. y trad. de Felipe Boso).

Otros poemas de Günter Eich
CautelaDemasiado tarde para ser modestosInventario

"Inventario", de Günter Eich (Alemania, 1907-1972)

Esta es mi gorra,
éste mi capote
y aquí están, en su bolsa,
los chismes de afeitar.

Esta lata vacía
es mi plato y mi vaso;
en su chapa he grabado
mi nombre.

Lo he grabado con este
clavo, que vale más
que el oro y que oculto
de miradas rapaces.

Un par de calcetines
de lana y otras cosas
que me callo las guardo
en el fardel del pan;

le sirve así de almohada
de noche a mi cabeza.
Entre la tierra y yo.
sólo hay este cartón.

La mina es lo que más
aprecio: por el día
me escribe los poemas
que pienso por la noche.

Esta es mi libreta
y éste mi toldo de lona;
ésta es mi toalla
y éste mi hilo de coser.

Günter Eich, incluido en 21 poetas alemanes (Visor Libros, Madrid, 1980, selecc. y trad. de Felipe Boso).

Otros poemas de Günter Eich
CautelaDemasiado tarde para ser modestosInventario

“Inventario”, de Günter Eich

Esta es mi gorra,
Este mi abrigo,
Aquí mi máquina de afeitar
En la bolsa de lino.

Lata de conservas:
Mi plato, mi copa;
He rayado mi nombre
En la hojalata.

Lo he rayado con este
Clavo único
Que oculto ante
Los ojos codiciosos.

En la bolsa del pan hay
Un par de calcetines de lana
Y algunas cosas que no
Se las cuento a nadie.

Así de noche le sirve
De almohada a mi cabeza.
El cartón aquel, colocado sobre el suelo,
Me separa de la tierra.

La mina del lápiz
Es lo que más quiero:
De día me escribe los versos
Que de noche imaginé.

Esta es mi libreta de notas,
Esta es mi lona,
Esta mi toalla,
Este mi hilo.

en Revista Orfeo, nº 19-20, 1966
Günter Eich visto por Soledad Calés

Günther Eich - Vivo casi sin dolor

Günter Eich en los años sesenta
(© Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland)

"Günter Eich fue el poeta en lengua alemana más influyente de la posguerra. Paradójicamente, su obra vive hoy en un injusto olvido. Una edición bilingüe recupera ahora el trabajo de un autor que buscó la expresión subversiva en medio de un lenguaje pervertido por los nazis." 

(De la reseña de Cecilia Dreymüller citada más abajo, 5-noviembre-2005)


Hay quien tiene recuerdos,
hay quien tiene deseos,
y los pensamientos no se detienen.
No pienso en nada.
Camino sin dolor
por un paisaje en el que quizás
los árboles sólo son sombras de bosques más lejanos.
Oh luces, cuya luz viene quizás de las estrellas,
oh arena que piso al andar, ¿de dónde vienes?

Mis pies andan, mis ojos ven.
De vez en cuando se me ocurren cosas que no he visto.
Un prado, se me ocurre, que es mi amante,
un viento, se me ocurre, que sopló hace años.

Günter Eich

De su libro El legado escrito de Johann Gottfried Seume (Nach Seumes Papieren, 1972), incluído en Poesías completas (Günter Eich) introducción, prólogo, traducción y notas de Aina Torrent-Lenzen. Edición bilingüe. La Poesía, señor hidalgo, 2005.

Reseña de esta excelente edición en El País (5-11-2005) escrita por Cecilia Dreymüller.

Günter Eich (Lebus (Brandeburgo), 1 de febrero de 1907 – Salzburgo, 20 de diciembre de 1972). Poeta, dramaturgo y compositor de obras para radio que fue miembro del Grupo 47.


Manche haben Erinnerungen,
manche haben Wünsche,
und Gedanken hören nicht auf.
Ich denke an nichts.
Ich gehe onhe Schmerzen
in eine Landschaft, wo vielleicht
die Bäume nur Schatten sind von entfernteren Wäldern.
O Lichter, deren Licht vielleicht aus Sternen kommt –
o Sand, auf den ich trete, woher kommst du?

Es gehen meine Füße, meine Auge sehen.
Zuweilen fallen mir ungesehene Dinge ein.
Eine Wiese fällt mir ein, die meine Geliebte ist,
ein Wind fällt mir ein, der von Jahren wehte.

Günter Eich - ¡Cuán difícil es captar la belleza!

Fotografía de HEN-Magonza

Cuando te rozan de alas las huellas,
¿quién es que lo ha podido compreender?:
se le acerca quien de ella se aleja.

¡Cuán difícil es captar la belleza!
Conoces la lengua que ella usa.
En bolas de espinas crecen castañas
y en alguna poesía maduran.

Günter Eich

Poema no publicado en vida de su autor. Poesías completas (Günter Eich) Introducción, prólogo, traducción y notas de Aina Torrent-Lenzen. Edición bilingüe. La Poesía, señor hidalgo, 2005.

Es kommt ihr näher, wer sich enfernt.
Die Flügelspuren, wenn sie sacht ihn streifen,
Wer hat es ganz erlernt?

Wie schwer es ist, die Schönheit zu begreifen!
Du kennst die Sprache, die sie spricht.
In Stachelballen die Kastanien reifen
und reifen zum Gedicht.

Otro poema y datos sobre Eich: Vivo casi sin dolor

Adolescencia renovada!

Adiós, Sylvia

Recuerdos de un adolescente.
Adiós, Sylvia.

Denn das Schöne ist nichts
als des Schrecklichen Anfang, den wir noch gerade ertragen,
und wir bewundern es so, weil es gelassen verschmäht,
uns zu zerstören.

Pues lo bello no es nada
sino el principio de lo terrible, lo que somos apenas capaces de soportar,
lo que sólo admiramos porque serenamente
desdeña destrozarnos.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

miércoles, 24 de octubre de 2012

Hans Magnus Enzensberger - Lo simple que es difícil de inventar

Fotografía de Stefan Dotti


¿Nada tengo en contra del microprocesador,
pero cómo estaríamos sin agua?
¿Qué es una sonda de Júpiter
comparada con el cerebro de una mosca?
¡Cómo se esfuerzan
esos ratones de laboratorio con la clonación!
Mucho mejor es follar.
¡Y el diente de león sobre todo,
cómo se lo monta: graciosa
elegancia insuperable!
Nunca en la vida,
queridos premios Nobel,
habríais inventado nada así.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

De Los elíxires de la ciencia, 2002

Versión de José Luis Reina Palazón leída en A media voz


Nichts gegen den Mikroprozessor,
Aber wie stünden wir da
Ohne Wasser?
Was ist schon eine Jupitersonde,
Verglichen mit dem Gehirn einer Fliege?
Wie sie sich abmühen,
Diese Labormäuse, mit dem Klonen!
Doch vorzüglicher ist es, zu vögeln.
Und der Löwenzahn erst,
Wie der es macht: heitere,
Unübertroffene Eleganz!
Nie im Leben,
Liebe Nobelpreisträger,
Gebt es nur zu,
Hättet ihr so was erfunden.

Gedichte von Günter Eich

Gedichte von Günter Eich

Inventur / Inventario
Winterliche Miniatur / Miniatura invernal
Erster Januar / Primero de enero
Ende eines Sommers / Final del invierno
Zu spät für Bescheidenheit / Demasiado tarde para la modestia
Fußnote zu Rom / Nota a pie de página sobre Roma
Vorsicht / Cautela
Namen / Nombres

Dies ist meine Mütze,
Esta es mi gorra,
dies ist mein Mantel,
este es mi abrigo,
hier mein Rasierzeug
aquí mi máquina de afeitar
im Beutel aus Leinen.
en bolsa de tela.
Lata de conservas
Mein Teller, mein Becher,
mi plato, mi vaso,
ich hab in das Weissblech
yo he en la chapa
den Namen geritzt.
el nombre grabado.
Geritzt hier mit diesem
Grabado quí con ese
kostbaren Nagel,
valioso clavo,
den vor begehrlichen
que de ansiosos
Augen ich berge.
ojos yo rescato.
Im Brotbeutel sind
En la bolsa del pan están
ein Paar wollene Socken
un par de calcetines de lana
und einiges, was ich
y otras cosas que yo
niemand verrate,
a nadie revelo
so dient es als Kissen
así sirve como almohada
nachts meinem Kopf.
por las noches a mi cabeza.
Die Pappe hier liegt
El cartón aquí queda
zwischen mir und der Erde.
entre yo y la tierra.
Die Bleistiftmine
La mina de lápiz
lieb ich am meisten:
es lo que más quiero
Tags schreibt sie mir Verse,
por el día me escribe los versos,
die nachts ich erdacht.
por la noche yo pienso.
Dies ist mein Notizbuch,
Esa es mi agenda,
dies meine Zeltbahn,
esta mi tienda de campaña (lona)
dies ist mein Handtuch,
esta es mi toalla,
dies ist mein Zwirn.
este es mi hilo.

Winterliche Miniatur
Miniatura invernal
Übers Dezembergrün der Hügel
Sobre el verde decembrino de las colinas
eine Pappel sich streckt wie ein Monument.
un chopo se estira como un monumento.
Krähen schreiben mit trägem Flügel
Los cuervos escriben con lentas alas
eine Schrift in den Himmel, die keiner kennt.
un escrito en el cielo que nadie conoce.
In der feuchten Luft gibt es Laute und Zeichen:
En el aire húmedo hay sonidos y señales:
die Hochspannung klirrt wie Grillengezirp,
la alta tensión tintinea como cantos de grillos,
die Pilze am Waldrand zu Gallert erbleichen,
las setas blanquean en el margen del bosque,
ein Drosselnest im Strauchwerk verdirbt,
un nido de tordo se echa a perder en los arbustos,
der Acker liegt in geschwungenen Zeilen,
el campo reposa en serpenteantes líneas,
das Eis auf den Pfützen zeigt blitzend den Riss.
el hielo de los charcos, muestra la grieta brillante.
Wolken, schwanger von Schnee, verweilen
nubes, embarazadas de nieve, se detienen
überm Alphabete der Bitternis.
sobre el alfabeto de la tribulación.

Erster Januar
Primero de enero
Nur ein Kalender spricht morgens vom neuen Jahre,
Solamente un calendario habló por la mañana del nuevo año,
die Wände wissen, daß nichts Neues beginnt.
las paredes saben, que nada nuevo comienza.
Draussen die Wolken flattern wie immer so leicht wie Haare,
Fuera las nubes ondean como siempre tan leves como cabellos,
und an die Fenster greift mit denselben Händen der Wind.
y a las ventanas toma con las mismas manos el viento.
März und April wird kommen, und später
Marzo y abril vendrán y más tarde
füllt dich ein Tag mit ewigen Stunden aus,
te satisface un día con horas eternas,
fällt mit Himmel und mit geblähter
cae con el cielo y con ...............
Wolke in deine Hände und in dein Haus.
nubes en tus manos y en tu casa.
Manchmal erblickst du dich nachts in einem Spiegel,
A veces te ves por la noche en un espejo,
das Gesicht undeutlich von Altern erfüllt,
el rostro borroso lleno de vejez,
wie ein verblichener Brief mit nie geöffnetem Siegel,
como ...... .............. carta nunca cerrada con sello
der immer die gleiche Schrift verhüllt.
que siempre el mismo escrito envuelve.
Alle Tage sind neu und sind Jubiläen,
Todos los días son nuevos y son aniversario
aber der Schmerz ist fern,
pero el dolor está lejano,
und du hast von den ewigen Trophäen
y tu tienes de los eternos trofeos
nur noch den Abendstern.
tan sólo la estrella de la mañana.

Ende eines Sommers
Final del invierno
Wer möchte leben ohne den Trost der Bäume!
¡Quién quiere vivir sin el consuelo de los árboles!
Wie gut, daß sie am Sterben teilhaben!
¡Qué bien que tomen parte en la muerte!
Die Pfirsiche sind geerntet, die Pflaumen färben sich,
Los melocotones son recolectados, las ciruelas se pintan,
während unter dem Brückenbogen die Zeit rauscht.
mientras bajo los arcos del puente el tiempo murmuraba.
Dem Vogelzug vertraue ich meine Verzweiflung an.
A las aves de paso confío mi desesperación.
Er mißt seinen Teil von Ewigkeit gelassen ab.
El mide su parte de eternidad sereno.
Seine Strecken
Su trayecto
werden sichtbar im Blattwerk als dunkler Zwang, [sichtbar werden (fig): manifestarse]
se manifiesta en el follaje como presión oscura,
die Bewegung der Flügel färbt die Früchte.
el movimiento de las alas colorea los frutos.
Es heißt Geduld haben.
Significa tener paciencia.
Bald wird die Vogelschrift entsiegelt,
Pronto se desprenderá el escrito de los pájaros,
unter der Zunge ist der Pfennig zu schmecken.
bajo la lengua está el penique para saborear.

Zu spät für Bescheidenheit
Demasiado tarde para la modestia
Wir hatten das Haus bestellt
Habíamos pedido la casa
und die Fenster verhängt,
y las cortinas corridas,
hatten Vorräte genug in den Kellern,
tenían bastantes provisiones en la bodega,
Kohlen und Öl,
carbón y fuelóleo,
und zwischen Hautfalten
y entre arrugas
den Tod in Ampullen verborgen.
la muerte en ampollas presta.
Durch den Türspalt sehn wir die Welt:
A través de la rendija de la puerta vemos el mundo:
Einen geköpften Hahn,
un gallo decapitado,
der über den Hof rennt.
que corre por el patio.
Er hat unsere Hoffnungen zertreten.
El ha pisado esperanza.
Wir hängen die Betttücher auf die Balkone
Colgamos las sábanas en los balcones
und ergeben uns.
y nos rendimos.

Fußnote zu Rom
Nota a pie de página sobre Roma
Ich werfe keine Münzen in den Brunnen,
Yo no tiro ninguna moneda en las fuentes,
ich will nicht wiederkommen.
yo no quiero volver.
Zuviel Abendland,
Demasiado occidente,
Zuviel Welt ausgespart.
Demasiado mundo apartado.
Keine Möglichkeit
Ninguna posibilidad
für Steingärten.
para jardin de piedra (japonés).

Die Kastanien blühn.
Los castaños florecen
Ich nehme es zur Kenntnis, [etw zur Kenntnis nehmen: tomar nota de algo]
Tomo nota,
äussere mich aber nicht dazu.
pero no me pronuncio.

Namen mit i
Nombres con i
oder Namen mit o,
nombres con o,
umsonst versuche ich
en vano intento
mich an Konsonanten
de las consonantes
zu erinnern.
Es rauscht vorbei
cruje pasando de largo
wie ein Telefonrauschen,
como un crujido del teléfono
wie wie.
o algo así.
Ich horche angestrengt.
Yo oigo aguzando el oído.
Viele Gespräche
muchas conversaciones
im Jahre 1200,
del año 1200,
sie betreffen mich,
que se refieren a mí,
aber die Aussprache ist anders,
pero la pronunciación es diferente,
ich habe Mühe.
tengo que esforzarme.
Jemand mit a spricht
Alguien con a habló
auf mich ein,
de mí,
eine Art Händedruck,
una especie de apretón de manos,
den ich nicht erwidere,
al que yo no contesto,
ein Schluck Wein
un trago de vino
en seco
ein übriggebliebenes u,
una u sobrante,
ein vergebliches Ypsilon.
una y griega ociosa.

Poemas de la posguerra

Presento tres poesías escritas en una época mal llamada “la hora cero”, tres testimonios de la posguerra idóneas para la literatura y las generaciones venideras. Tres poetas pilares de la literatura del siglo XX en Alemania : Gottfried Benn, Karl Krolow y Günter Eich.

Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)

Bilder (1948)

Siehst du auf Bildern in den Galerien
verkrümmte Rücken, graue Mäuler, Falten
anstößiger gedunsener Alten,
die schon wie Leichen durch die Dinge zieh’n,
Brüchige Felle, Stoppeln, käsiger Bart,
blutunterflossenes Fett von Fuselräuschen,
gewandt, für Korn zu prellen und zu täuschen,
den Stummel fischend und im Tuch verwahrt;
Ein Lebensabend, reichliches Dekor,
Reichtum an Unflat, Lumpen, Pestilenzen,
Ein Hochhinauf wechselnder Residenzen;
im Leihhaus tags und nachts im Abflussrohr,
Siehst du auf Bildern in den Galerien,
wie diese Alten für ihr Leben zahlten,
siehst du die Züge derer, die es malten,
du siehst den großen Genius — , ihn.

Retratos (1948)

Si ves en retratos en la galerías
espaldas retorcidas, bocas grises, arrugas
de viejos flatulentos, asquerosos
que pasan cadavéricos entre las cosas,
pieles resquebrajadas, barbas duras y pálidas,
gordura amoratada por la borrachera,
listos para estafar y engañar por aguardiente,
pescando la colilla guardada en un pañuelo;
ocaso de una vida, adorno suficiente,
riqueza en inmundicias, andrajos, pestilencias,
el colmo de cambiantes residencias ;
de día el Monte Pío, de noche los desagües,
si ves en retratos en la galerías
cómo esos viejos pagaron con su vida,
si ves los trazos de quienes lo pintaron,
ves al gran genio –, a él.
(traducción: Ines Hagemeyer)

Günter Eich (1907-1972)

Inventar (1949) 

Dies ist meine Mütze,
dies ist mein Mantel
hier mein Rasierzeug
im Beutel aus Leinen.
Mein Teller, mein Becher,
ich hab in das Weißblech
den Namen geritzt.
Geritzt hier mit diesem
kostbaren Nagel,
den von begehrlichen
Augen ich berge.
Im Brotbeutel sind   
ein Paar wollene Socken
und einiges, was ich       
niemand verrate,
so dient es als Kissen   
nachts meinem Kopf.
Die Pappe hier liegt
zwischen mir und der Erde.
Die Bleistiftmine
lieb ich am meisten:
Tags schreibt sie  mir Verse,
die ich nachts erdacht.                                                
Dies ist mein Notizbuch,
dies meine Zeltbahn,
dies ist mein Handtuch,
dies ist mein Zwirn.

Inventario (1949)

Esta es mi gorra
este es mi abrigo
aquí mis cosas de afeitar
en la bolsa de lona.
La lata de conservas:
mi plato, mi vaso,
he rayado el nombre
en la hojalata.
Rayado aquí con este
clavo valioso
que oculto
a ojos ávidos.
En la bolsa de pan
un par de calcetines de lana
y algo
que no revelo a nadie,
así sirve de almohada
de noche a mi cabeza.
Aquí esta cartulina
entre la tierra y yo.
La mina de lápiz
es lo que más quiero:
de día me escribe versos
que por la noche inventé.
Esta es mi libreta
esta es mi lona
esta es mi toalla
este es mi hilo de coser.
(traducción: Ines Hagemeyer)

Karl Krolow (1915-1999)

Liebesgedicht (1955)

Mit halber Stimme rede ich zu dir :
Wirst du mich hören
Hinter dem bitteren Kräutergesicht des Mondes,
Der zerfällt?
Unter der himmlischen Schönheit der Luft,
Wenn es Tag wird,
Die Frühe ein rötlicher Fisch ist mit bebender Flosse?
Du bist schön.
Kühl und trocken ist deine Haut.
Dein Blick — sanft und sicher wie der eines Vogels.
Ich sage es dem schwingenden Wind.
Dein Nacken — hörst Du? — ist aus Luft,
Die wie eine Taube durch die Maschen des blauen Laubes schlüpft.
Du hebst dein Gesicht.
An der Ziegelmauer erscheint es noch einmal als Schatten.
Schön bist du. Du bist schön.
Wasserkühl war dein Schlaf an meiner Seite.
Mit halber Stimme rede ich zu dir.
Und die Nacht zerbricht wie Soda, schwarz und blau.

Poema de amor (1955)

A media voz te hablo
¿Me oirás
detrás del rostro amargo de la luna
que se resquebraja?
¿Bajo la celestial belleza del aire
cuando se haga de día
y el alba sea un rojizo pez de aleta temblorosa?
Eres hermosa.
Fresca y seca es tu piel.
Tu mirada – suave y firme como la de un pájaro.
Se lo digo al viento que vibra.
Tu cuello — ¿oyes? — es de aire
que como paloma se escurre entre las mallas del follaje azul.
Levantas el rostro.
Sobre el muro de ladrillo reaparece como una sombra.
Hermosa eres. Eres hermosa.
Fresco como el agua fué tu sueño a mi lado.
A media voy te hablo.
Y la noche se quiebra como soda, negra y azul.
(traducción: Ines Hagemeyer)