Monday, September 7, 2015


M A R I E   L U I S E   K A S C H N I T Z


The man who dropped death on Hiroshima
Has taken vows, rings the bells in the cloister.
The man who dropped death on Hiroshima
Jumped into a noose and hanged himself.
The man who dropped death on Hiroshima
Has gone insane, fights apparitions
Made out of dust that come for him,
Hundreds of thousands every night.

None of all this is true.
Just the other day I saw him
In his front yard in the suburbs.
The hedges were low and the rosebushes dainty.
It takes time to raise an oblivious forest
For someone to hide in. Plain to see
The new, naked house, the young wife
Beside him in her flowered dress
The little girl holding her hand
The boy who was sitting across his back
Cracking a whip over his head.
He himself was easy to recognize
On all fours on his lawn, his face
A grimace of laughter, because the photographer stood
Outside the hedge, the eye of the world.

By Writing

By writing I wanted

To save my soul.

I tried to make poems

It did not work.

I tried to tell stories

It did not work.

You cannot write

To save your soul.

Given up, it drifts and does the singing. 

The White Ships

In our mathematical world

Who can still remember

Anything that decays

And anything that takes root?

White whitest white

Sooner or later we too

Will get our coats of oil-base paint

Then we'll stop getting older

We'll eat blancmange

The clocks will stay white

Except that the night

Drums up hordes of unknown stars. 

My Ground

I have staked out my ground

With frozen fishes

My path to freedom

Is marked by rustling corn husks

I raise ice ferns

On my windowpane

I breathe a circular hole

For my visitors

They see my eyes

My lashes waving

In vain

Around midnight the slalom of ghosts

Sweeps through the corn. 


translated by Lisel Mueller
Princeton University Press 1980